How To: Change the World
Make a difference at a university that emphasizes public service.
Community service is a great item to include on your activities resume when applying to a college or university. But even though you might not expect to continue your volunteer efforts after you've been accepted, there are lots of reasons to look for a college or university that encourages public service.
Where to Volunteer in College
While you can probably volunteer for a cause on your college campus, there will also be plenty of public service opportunities in the surrounding community. Most colleges and universities have a community outreach center that can help you.
Saint Louis University's Center for Service and Community Engagement connects undergraduate students to volunteer opportunities in the St. Louis Public School District, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Habitat for Humanity and more sites around the city. In fact, the university works with 50 non-profit organizations that are within walking distance from campus.
Even though volunteering is not a requirement at SLU, it is almost an expectation because of the culture of service at the university, says Robert Wassel, assistant director for community service and outreach at Saint Louis University. Nearly 80 percent of SLU students volunteer, which is three times the national average.
Reasons to Volunteer at College
Each year, the university holds a day of service called Make a Difference Day. With thousands of students at work at more than 100 volunteer sites, it's one of the largest collegiate days of service in the entire country. Find out more.
Volunteering is a learning opportunity - sometimes literally. Some colleges and universities incorporate volunteering into their curriculum through service learning projects. Saint Louis University offers between 80 and 100 service learning courses. Other university student organizations and college clubs require members to complete a certain number of volunteer hours.
Undergraduate students who volunteer in college say it strengthens their leadership skills and gives them an appreciation for people's differences and diverse backgrounds. It can also improve your professional network, help you develop references, and allow you to explore your interests and learn about yourself. No matter why you do it, get out there and volunteer and make a difference!