Students coming into college come for various reasons, including the opportunity for an education, identifying a career path, making a lot of money post graduation, and meeting new friends and associates.
Then, of course, there are other reasons that do not apply to all students. But let's be honest, the parties, drinking, clubbing and you can fill in the rest. Or, some students like myself, had no clue why they were coming to college.
I did it because it was the "Next Phase" after high school, and I didn't have a sense of purpose coming into Old Dominion University. However, over time I discovered my passion, desire, goals, aspirations, ambitions and most importantly my reason. One of the lessons I learned of myself is the passion for children in the school systems to be fully equipped for the next stages of their lives whether it's elementary to middle, middle to high school or high school to college/trade school/job/none.
As I started to volunteer at the local schools near my University, I observed the need for college students to volunteer at these schools and adding volunteerism to their list of reasons for coming to college.
1. The Kids/Teachers/Staff/Parents at the schools need you
If you've ever felt like you aren't needed anywhere and there's nothing you can do to help anyone, then here is your opportunity. The students are in dire need of volunteers in their schools. The teachers love having college students assist in their classrooms, after school programs and special events.
The parents are inspired by your commitment and your desire to assist their children in their development. Your presence in the school alone begins to motivate the children as they see "younger" looking adults in their environment. And this leads me to reason No. 2:
2. Become a Role Model
College students have the ability to become role models at an early age. The kids look up to you because they understand that you take time out of your day to genuinely spend time with them, inspire them and educate them. They see you as a big brother/big sister and you will also gain little brothers and sisters. My students become attached and I build relationships with them overtime, which is honestly so priceless. As you build these friendships, you begin to see something great in them and regardless what you are currently studying at your University, it will lead you to this next point;
3. Discover Passions and Talents
You have the ability to identify what you are truly passionate about. For me, I am an Accounting Major with a minor in Philosophy. At first, I had no idea what the relationship between those two concentrations were. Being around the students, I realized why these two mattered together. The students lack understanding of basic financial literacy and needed accounting principles, specifically in the Middle and High Schools. I discovered a passion of merging my accounting education with ethical guidelines and the ability to debate philosophically on the behalf of the children. Through this discovery, I also realized a talent of training and equipping students to understand business concepts and own their futures. This led me to start a non-profit called CorEight Initiative.
4. You do have an obligation
In the famous words of the great Muhammad Ali, "Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth." Although we have all these aspirations for college and the future, we must remember that others helped us to get to where we are now. It was their service to us that helped propel us into greatness, let's turn around and pay it forward.
5. Building Relationship with the Community
The one thing college students tend to fail at is graduating without building community relations. It is so rewarding when I get to know the parents and residents of the local schools and the local community. There is one particular family that has basically become my home away from home. I spend time with them, dine with them and watch TV with them. And they are not even from the same country or community I grew up in. This all started because their child was one of my students when volunteering. It's a great way to build relationship.
6. Opportunity for Networking/Internships
Volunteering at these schools is a great way to network. I know many students are starting to understand the importance of networking for their career and their future. There are a lot of opportunities to network and this is one of them. I have met administrators, teachers and coaches which led me to other opportunities and other networking programs. This has the potential of opening doors for internships as well. The schools have internship opportunities, they can create one for you or lead you to other organizations or companies. Take advantage of this and get connected.
7. Resume Builder
The obvious reason for volunteering at these schools is building your portfolio. College isn't only about the 4.0 and academics. Potential employers are looking for a student who has the "total package." A student who knows how to take initiative, create opportunities, has good social capital and is connected well. Volunteering is the doorway to standing out and giving yourself the advantage. So start building that resume and give your local Elementary, Middle, or High School a Phone call!
Hopefully this inspired you to make volunteering one of your reasons for attending college. After all, college is what you make it, so make it one to remember and help build your local community through the school system!