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Volunteering: How Helping Others Helps You

Volunteering has a positive effect on your community — and it’s good for you too. Ben, a college freshman who did volunteer fund-raising work, calls it “a win-win situation." He says, "You feel good because you're helping others, and the others feel good because they're getting help.”

Volunteering can help you learn more about yourself and even put you on a path to your future career.

Reasons to Volunteer

Giving back to your community is valuable in itself, but helping others also offers many benefits. For example, it can help you learn more about yourself and even put you on a path to your future career. Learn more about the reasons to volunteer below.

Gain Valuable Life Experiences and Skills

Whether you build houses for the homeless or mail flyers for a local politician, you can experience the real world through hands-on work. And you can explore your major or career interests at the same time.

For example, as a premed freshman, Gregory spent his summer volunteering at a local health clinic. He picked a clinic in an area with a lot of Spanish speakers so he could practice his language skills while observing medical workers. He also found time to ask the doctors questions.

Meet Interesting People

Both the people you are helping and your fellow volunteers can give you new insights. No matter what groups of people you’re working with, you’ll find that they have information and ways of looking at the world that can broaden your horizons.

Get Academic Credit

Some high schools offer academic credit for volunteer work through service learning — a program that offers hands-on learning through service to the community. To find out if your school offers service learning, talk to your school counselor.

Show Colleges You’re Committed

Your volunteer work illustrates your interests and character. When you list your volunteer work on your college applications, you show admission officers the value you’ll bring to their campus community.

Make a Difference

It’s eye-opening to realize that doing even small things can have a big impact on others. Rhea, a college sophomore, still remembers a visit she made to a senior home with a choir when she was in middle school. “An elderly man in a wheelchair looked up at me after the last strains of ‘Frosty the Snowman’ and said in a gravelly voice, ‘You’ve made my day. This means so much.’” She recalls, “No one had ever thanked me in such a way for doing something so small, and a stranger no less!”

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Expert Q&A

Susan Kastner Tree , Director of College Counseling, Westtown School

Did you know that admission officers are interested in your personal qualities as well as your grades? Find out what traits colleges look for.

High school is the perfect time for you to explore your talents and hobbies, and find out what it is that you really enjoy doing.

Explore career options: What are you into?

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