Volunteering in high school provides so many benefits:
- helping others
- exploring interests
- expanding experiences
- building self confidence
- activities on college applications
- and on and on.
We all know the benefits of service hours, but what about the nitty gritty? When does my student need volunteer hours?
Need help understanding how colleges make choices on who to admit each year? Attend a college planning workshop.
How much volunteer time is enough? How do we keep track of all this?
This hot topic comes up every year for juniors. Each fall, qualifying juniors are invited to join their school’s chapter of the National Honor Society because of their GPA. YAY! Many learn (upon opening the application) that completed service hours are required as part of the application. Ummm…how did we miss this???
The National Honor Society does not dictate a specific number of service hours required to become a member (schools will require additional hours after becoming a member in order to be recognized at graduation). Those numbers can vary by district. Dublin Jerome requires 20 hours if applying as a junior. Olentangy Liberty requires 24 per year. Lakota East requires 30. As you can see, the requirements can vary, but most look for a split between hours devoted to school activities and hours devoted to community activities.
Most school districts do NOT require service hours from all their students simply to graduate; although Catholic or other private schools may. A local exception is the Delaware City Schools here in Ohio who do have a volunteer hour requirement. Though not required for graduation, colleges do like to see service hours on their applications.
Again, requirements vary by school. Dublin Coffman appears to have a service form that needs an adult’s signature. Other forms may require that students provide the name and contact information, but it does not ask for a signature. No matter the requirements, families can create their method as soon as a student starts high school to keep track of activities from freshmen year onward. Those college applications will need that info.
Get started early
We urge parents to help/support by creating opportunities to volunteer early in high school. The summer after freshman year is a GREAT time to get a chunk of hours in.
Propose a few options and let them select what they will enjoy. Not all volunteer opportunities will be open to all ages; however, perhaps they can be a counselor at a camp they enjoyed as a child. Or they can volunteer at the library for the Summer Reading Program. Or, or, or…
Here are some websites to get some ideas (some specific examples in parenthesis):
- 50 Community Service Ideas for Teens
- Volunteer Match (searchable site)
- POINT app (currently available in Ohio)
- Food pantries (Mid-Ohio Foodbank in Central Ohio)
- Free stores (Common Ground Free Store in Delaware, Ohio)
- Habitat for Humanity
- Libraries (Google your “local library and volunteers”)
- Animal shelters/humane societies (Columbus Humane Society in Central Ohio)
- Zoos (Columbus Zoo)
- Hospitals (Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus and Ronald McDonald House–search for your local chapter)
- Events and festivals (like 5Ks and food fests)
Due to COVID-19, online opportunities were necessary. Here are some resources we found:
- 9 Places to Volunteeer Online (and Make a Real Impact)
- How Your Teen Can Find a Virtual Volunteer Opportunity
- 10 Virtual Volunteer Ideas for Teens
- Virtual Volunteering Opportunities from Points of Light
- Ideas for Volunteering at Home
Getting started early on volunteer hours is good in so many ways, and when they open that NHS application in the fall of their junior year, they will have completed those required hours. Good luck and congratulations to all of those who are invited to apply!
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