In its essence, community service is volunteerism – an altruistic activity intended to improve people’s quality of life, help a certain cause, and promote good values. These activities have always been part of high school education. When students are given an opportunity to be active contributors to the society, they acquire skills and knowledge that can determine the development of their education and professional career. Community service leads to great psychological, social, and cognitive benefits for the students; and results with a positive impact on college acceptance.
When high-school students are subjected to well-planned community service, they show improvements in their mental health and positive feelings, while the depression and stress tend to decrease. According to the analysis of Peggy Thoits and Lyndi Hewitt (2001), voluntarism buffers the negative consequences of stressors, decreases depression and increases life satisfaction. Serving the community gives students a sense of purpose and personal satisfaction. When they contribute towards the creation of better living conditions for other people, the students start feeling good about themselves, understand people who are different, learn to respect others, become more patient, and develop their leadership skills.
The most important social benefit that students gain from community service is active engagement within the community, which increases the feeling of responsibility. When they participate in service projects, they create connections with other people, improve their social network and develop better interpersonal skills. The feeling of social responsibility and connection with the community has a positive impact upon the entire personality of the student. Volunteerism can change the viewpoints of the student and shape the direction of his life. In addition, community service contributes towards improved cognitive skills. Through practice, service and contact with other people, students obtain new experience, skills and knowledge. The challenges of the real world improve the volunteer’s critical thinking and problem solving skills.
High-school students who participate in community service are more likely to get accepted into the college of their choice. Volunteering is one of the most effective ways for the student to apply the learned lessons into practice and work towards addressing real human needs. As they build their network and get letters of recommendations, these students have a greater chance to obtain scholarships and get the attention of admissions officers. Being a good citizen is a precondition of instrumental value in the admission process.
Volunteering makes a real difference to the community, but is also important for the student’s personal development. Through community service, high-school students gain important experience and acquire a multitude of psychological, social, and cognitive benefits. This package of skills is a proven stepping stone for many students who aim towards college education and apply for scholarships.