Students set positive example for alternative spring breaks

It's that time of year again – students all over the country are setting off to places like Florida and Cancun to blow off some steam during Spring Break. However, some college students are proving that the spring vacation from school can be used to set a good example and help people in need.

For instance, students from Boston University (BU) are planning a series of road trips to lend a hand in communities across the country. The International Rescue Committee and Project Open Hand in Atlanta; Vital Bridges and Pets Are Worth Saving in Chicago; and the Homless and Runaway Street Outreach Center in Iowa are among the organizations that BU students plan to help during their alternative spring break. According to the initiative's official blog, the university has operated the program since 1988.

Students from all over the country are getting involved. Aspiring lawyers at the University of Memphis recently offered their services to local people free of charge, according to The Commercial Appeal.

"I'm excited and I'm intimidated," Erin Coates, a law student, told the news source shortly after meeting her first client. "But mostly, I'm enthusiastic."

The University of Rhode Island recently sent students to Austin, Texas, to volunteer at a local food pantry as part of its Students Actively Volunteering Engaging in Service (SAVES) program. College students moved almost 30,000 pounds of food for the pantry and helped build homes alongside volunteers at the local Habitat for Humanity branch, according to the university's student newspaper, The Cigar.

"It’s been tremendous seeing students get involved in local nonprofit organizations or in areas that are part of their interests," Chelsea Tucker, president of SAVES, told the news source. "They end up having so much fun and learning so much about themselves."

Volunteering can be a great way to spend spring break. If you're interested in helping local communities, ask your admissions adviser if your prospective schools offer these kind of programs when you're doing a college search. Many schools operate general initiatives that allow you to explore different ways to help people, and others might offer specialized programs that align with your personal interests.

Alternatively, if you're already involved in a nonprofit or volunteer organization, this experience can look good on a college application. In your admissions essay, consider mentioning how volunteering has affected you and how you have helped others. 

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