Volunteering in College

In my experience, one of the most important lessons you can learn from your undergraduate is the value of community service. Only about 7 percent of the world has a college education, so we should leverage our good fortune to help others in need. At most universities, there are many avenues through which you can engage with the community and do some good. Here are some possibilities that individuals interested in helping their fellow man could look into:

#1 Volunteer Service Trips
Many universities provide the opportunity for students to go abroad during their holiday breaks, or even study abroad in a service context. At my alma mater, we had the opportunity to travel within the continental US to serve domestically during our shorter breaks, and to travel to countries like India, Rwanda, or Russia between each semester. Not only do you get to experience another culture, but you also learn to put your life into perspective and truly realize your privilege. If you have the funds or the time to do so, I would greatly recommend this option.

#2 Join a service-oriented club
This is probably the easiest way to help out your community, and also as time-intensive as your schedule allows. There are many clubs that focus on individual issues, so you can choose the organizations that fit your specific passions. Habitat for Humanity, for example, addresses low-income housing, and helping build a house is a great way to spend a weekend. If you want a greater breadth in terms of activities, you can always join an organization like Circle K International or Rotary Club. These clubs are usually more general and carry out a wider variety of activities.

#3 Join a fraternity/sorority
Although fraternities and sororities are known primarily for their social functions on campus, they often leverage their funds and clout to do large-scale philanthropy events. From my personal experience, Greek Life philanthropies usually raise the more money for their partner charities than any individual club does, just because of their manpower and resources. There are also service-oriented fraternities, such as Alpha Phi Omega, which are often co-ed. These organizations combine elements of both service clubs and social Greek organizations, so this may be a good alternative for those who can’t choose between either.

#4 Explore your community
If none of the options on campus pique your interest, you might have some luck interfacing with the community directly. There are many non-profits that you could look into volunteering with, even if they aren’t directly affiliated with your school. Additionally, if you see a specific need in the community that isn’t being addressed, don’t be afraid to take the lead and start your own group! Even if it starts as something small-scale, any positive change you can impart is something worth doing. The opportunity to lead an organization can provide marketing, fundraising, recruitment, and logistical skills, and your initiative will look great on a resume.

There is nothing more fulfilling than working for a cause larger than yourself, so I hope you guys keep these opportunities in mind for when school starts up again!