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The Value of Teen Volunteering

Maryline Michel Kulewicz and Tracy Sullivan of College 101 Admissions Consultants

Giving back to the community is a great way for teenagers to develop career and life skills, in addition to experiencing a mental health boost. Teenagers face academic and social pressures, and research indicates that focusing on others can enhance happiness and emotional well-being; while fostering qualities that will serve them well in their education and professional pursuits.      

Good things happen to those who volunteer! 

1. Build confidence & self-esteem:  Doing good things for others can help create a feeling of greater self-worth because it can provide a sense of pride in one’s accomplishments.  Students can see first-hand how their actions have an impact. 

2. Increase empathy:  When teens volunteer, they learn that other people’s lives can be very different from their own. By helping others with different life experiences, teens not only gain a deeper understanding of others but also learn to respect them, fostering a heightened sense of social awareness.  

3. Identify your sense of purpose:  Volunteering can help teens develop a sense of purpose. As an example, a teen volunteers to help a local official run for election, they learn first-hand how a team effort can create positive change, which then fuels their motivation to major in a similar area of study.

4. Earn stronger grades: Volunteering can help a teenager achieve stronger grades.  According to the United Way, “There is a positive correlation between students who earn good grades and those who participate in community service. Volunteering also helps teens gain new skills necessary for the job market such as leadership, communication skills, dependability, time management, and decision making.”

5. Strengthen your college application: Volunteer experience promotes collaboration, resourcefulness, and initiative. Studies show that teen volunteers have a higher level of maturity and compassion than their peers who do not volunteer. Colleges love to see a student engage in their community and show impact.  So, whatever you do, do it consistently and do something you are enthusiastic about - it shows.   


Ways to get involved!  

1. Ask yourself one question: If you could help solve one problem, what would you choose, and how could you help? The problem could pertain to global issues, high school concerns, or local community matters. This simple question has prompted such insightful and mature answers among my students. The act of volunteering becomes significantly more fulfilling when driven by a genuine passion for a cause - which can often extend its influence into other aspects of life. 

2. Volunteer Resources:

a. a great website to find a broad range of volunteer opportunities.  

b. created in 1993 with the vision that volunteerism can be as cool as sports. 

c. People making a difference: Their vision is for everyone to be able to volunteer productively a few times a year so that together people can make a real difference. 

d. matches inspired people with inspiring causes. 

e. Volunteer Match Quiz: It will analyze the student’s answers and identify potential volunteer opportunities that match their interests.  

3. Do-it-yourself activities:  Create a list of local volunteer activities that could be done with a friend. Suggestions include caring for a neighbor’s pet,  grocery shopping for an elderly neighbor or sick friend,  tutoring classmates or young children, running a mini summer camp offering an activity you love to do, volunteering for a cause that’s dear to your heart, collecting items for the local food pantry, or visiting with a family member that lives alone.  Email [email protected] for a FREE resource. 

4. Get approval:  It is important to always ask permission from a parent or guardian before you start any volunteer activity. 

One of my favorite quotes is from Margeret Mead, Anthropologist, who was truly ahead of her time: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”   

Good luck and enjoy the journey!   

College 101 Admissions Consultants LLC. Website:  Email: [email protected]. Phone: (508) 380-3845.


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