Volunteering can change your life.
Not just because it can help strengthen your college application but also because it can strengthen who you are as a person.
No matter your age, you have something to give to others, like your time or your compassion.
In this blog post, we’re going to talk about whether volunteering matters to colleges, what volunteer opportunities are great for teen volunteers, and what you can gain from volunteering.
Does Volunteering Matter to Colleges?
Colleges have to decide whether to invest in you, and that decision becomes easier for them when they see you’ve invested in others.
Local volunteering is a great way to show the character and personality side of you to admissions departments that mainly get to know you through your grades and test scores. Showing that you have a passion for your community will help colleges see that you’ll be an active member of their community too.
On a practical note, showing that you are connected to an organization and are beginning to learn networking skills is a huge benefit too. If you can positively represent an organization by volunteering, you’ll be more likely to positively represent a university by succeeding.
And on another practical note, volunteering can partially stand in for job experience if your resume doesn’t show any paid positions. Holding a position reliably for an extended period of time tells colleges you’re someone to be relied upon.
What Volunteer Opportunities Should You Seek?
Generally, look for a reputable organization with a familiar local or national name. (What we mean by this is that collecting bottle caps around the neighborhood, while commendable, doesn’t usually count as volunteering.)
The way that you find out about the volunteer opportunity is usually an indication of its reputation.
Places to Look for Volunteering Opportunities:
- City website
- School counselor’s resource list
- Local hospital or elder care facility
- Religious institution
- Library, museum, or university
You get the idea. You’ve heard of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and you’ve heard of Habitat for Humanity. Organizations of that caliber are nearly always accepting and training volunteers.
You could also let your interests guide your volunteer opportunity search.
Volunteer Options for High School Students Based on Interests:
- If you love animals, look for animal shelters or animal fostering.
- If you love literacy, find an afterschool program through which you can read with children.
- If you love healthcare, check out opportunities at medical facilities.
- If you love fitness, find out how to become a referee or coach for youth sports team.
The point is that if you discover an organization whose values you share, you’ll get connected more easily and be more excited about volunteering than if you view it as a resume box to check.
3 Things You Can Gain From Volunteering
While volunteering is mainly about what you can give, you won’t come away empty handed.
1) A new perspective
When you volunteer, you gain a new perspective on your community. Every community, no matter how underprivileged or how affluent, has people with needs. You can learn to appreciate the individuals in your community in a whole new way.
You could also gain a new perspective about various political and social issues that you weren’t aware of before you volunteered. Be warned that volunteering could ignite a passion in you for issues you have yet to even learn about.
Volunteering also teaches you gratitude. If you bag food for schoolchildren who may not get to eat when school is not in session, you’ll develop a new appreciation for living in a food secure household.
2) A sense of purpose
Volunteering can give you a feeling of purpose. It’s invigorating to take actions that materially improve the lives of others.
From building a wheelchair-accessible front porch to combing the hair of an elder who can’t grip a brush handle, you could make someone else’s life that much happier just because you are willing to be there.
As well as helping people, volunteers also help the environment, which has a positive effect on an entire community. Volunteering can truly give you a confidence or a purpose that you have never experienced before.
3) A change of pace
Finally, volunteering can give you a welcome and much-needed change of pace from the routine of school and afterschool activities.
Not only can you gain new skills, knowledge, and experience — far too many to enumerate here, as most organizations will provide the equivalent of on-the-job training to anyone willing to learn — but it will also bring you into contact with new industries, cultures, and ways of life. You’ll be amazed at the rich diversity of your community when you travel somewhere local that you don’t usually go.
Volunteering expands your network. It provides you with more opportunities to gain teachers and mentors (who would almost certainly love to write a letter of recommendation for you). Best of all as a volunteer, you can make lifelong friends.
Dallas-Fort Worth Volunteer Opportunities
Here are just a few resources to represent the multitude of opportunities available for teen volunteers in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
Remember, your city website and high school counselor are great resources for your search.
Volunteer Opportunities for High School Students in Dallas-Fort Worth
- Across North Texas: American Red Cross Youth and North Texas VolunteerNow
- Colleyville: Opportunities with Good Shepherd Catholic Communities and Volunteering with the Colleyville Library
- Coppell: Volunteer Organizations Approved by Coppell ISD and Volunteering with the City of Coppell
- Dallas: Search for DFW Volunteer Opportunities through TeenLife
- Flower Mound: Teen Volunteering in Flower Mound
- Frisco: Volunteering with the City of Frisco, Frisco Family Services, and other opportunities for Teens in Frisco
- Plano: Teen Volunteering with the City of Plano
We hope you find a fantastic place to volunteer! For more information on volunteering and why it matters, check out the following blog posts:
- Why Volunteering Matters (and When It Doesn’t)
- Why Community Service Matters When Applying for College