Using community service to prepare for college

Youth can use their experience gained from community service activities to prepare for college.

With a desire to volunteer and serve, all youth can participate in a community service project. This community service is a benefit to the community and also to the youth participants. By participating in a community service activity, youth can build career skills. For youth interested in pursuing higher education, participating in community service can also help them prepare for college.

How can youth use community service to prepare for college? Youth can journal and list their talents, hobbies and favorite classes; or things they are good at, things they love to do, the classes they excel in or a cause in which they are interested. A personal journal or list of these items can be used to help youth find a major at a college. Once identified, youth can use the talents, interests and skills listed for the major or specialization to determine the kind of community service activity they should participate in. Nonprofit agencies, schools, neighborhood associations and hospitals are a few great places to start volunteering, as well as explore future careers. Another option is to create your own community service activity.

While participating in community service activities, journal each experience and take note of the skills gained and lessons learned. Why is this important for college preparation? Volunteerism and community service activities can be listed as extra-curricular activities in college admissions applications. These same experiences can also be used to address a topic in a college application essay. To help finance a college education, young people can write about their community service experience for essays in scholarship applications – there are even scholarships for volunteering and community service.

It is not only important for youth to participate in service activities while in high school, but to continue their service in college. Did you know that colleges and universities have centers for students to participate in service-learning, community service and volunteering? For example, Michigan State University has the Center for Service-Learning and Civic Engagement. Through these centers, students can participate in more service activities while they are in college. If there are students interested in attending certain colleges, they can check to see if their colleges of interest have a service-learning or volunteer center on campus.

4-H is a good option for a students looking to participate in community service. Michigan State University Extension 4-H Youth Development provides resources to assist youth in participating in community service activities such as the 4-H Service Log and Planning your community service project: Based on a community service-learning model.

Start volunteering today! You’ll help others while benefitting yourself and helping to prepare for college.

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