The High School Student Beginner’s Guide to Volunteer Work

If you’re reading this, you’ve probably been told volunteer work is something admissions boards look for on your college application. For some of you, volunteer work is something you’ve already had to do as part of an organization or for a student government class. You already know where you can log those hours! For others, volunteer work is something completely new.

If you’ve never volunteered before, and are not quite sure where to start, read on!

 Why do colleges care if I volunteer?

As a high school student, there’s not a whole lot you can include on your resume just yet. You haven’t earned a degree. You have little-no work experience, and chances are, that work experience is a part-time job completely unrelated to what you want for your future career. So how can you show a potential college what kind of person you are and what you’re capable of? Volunteer work, extra-curricular activities, leadership roles, standardized test scores, sports involvement, GPAs, and your essay will all do their part in shaping who you are as an individual. There is no golden ticket for college admission, but anything that can make a statement about who you are, helps.

 Where can I find out about volunteer work?

Finding potential places to volunteer can be an annoying process, especially if you’re unsure on where to look. Start off by talking to your guidance counselor. You may also want to look in newspapers, bulletin boards at your school, church, or town hall, or just by doing a Google search online. As to which places have been the most enjoyable to volunteer, you may want to ask around. Chances are, your classmates have had to volunteer as well, and could give you an honest review about what volunteering at a specific place is like.

At what type of places could I volunteer?

Volunteer work has something for everyone, no matter where your interests lie. If you pick something you have an interest in, you’re more likely to enjoy as well as take something away from your volunteer work. You may even be inspired to continue working within the same area in college. The following is a list of places that may need volunteers.

  • Animal shelters
  • Nursing homes
  • Hospitals
  • Thrift stores
  • Churches
  • Scouts
  • Benefits/Walks/Fundraisers
  • Soup kitchens
  • Homeless shelters
  • Family shelters
  • Environmental groups
  • Libraries
  • Community events
  • Museums
  • Zoos
  • Clinics
  • Mentor programs

How do I get involved?

No matter where you choose to volunteer, you probably won’t be turned down. Everyone could use some free help. If there isn’t a contact person meant for those interested in volunteering, you can start just by calling/emailing the company/organization.

 How committed do I need to be? 

Volunteer work can be fit around anyone’s schedule. There are some places, such as hospitals and animal shelters, may require a certain amount of training, followed by set hours to volunteer. Other places, such as soup kitchens, may allow you to come and go whenever you’re free without any training needed. You can volunteer as much or as little as you can.

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