Philanthropy in the University: Why College Students Make Good Volunteers

College students make some of the best volunteers. In fact, the number of college students who volunteered grew by approximately 600,000 from 2.7 million in 2002 to 3.3 million in 2005, according to a study by the Corporation for National and Community Service. College students often volunteer twice as much as adults, and for this reason, it’s no wonder that organizations often target college students in their recruiting efforts.

So how can you take part in this growing movement? Well, first of all figure out what sorts of charity work you’re most interested in doing. Do you like to work with children? Are you very organized and detail-oriented? Do you like to travel? Once you’ve found an answer to some of these questions, think about your skills. Are you a music major? Do you like to read and write stories? Do you like to teach others? Think about how certain organizations can allow you to apply your skills to helping others. Check with local non-profits to see if they could use you as a tutor or mentor. Should you choose this path, you’d be joining the majority of college-aged volunteers who work with children in mentorships and tutoring roles.

Other opportunities are more involved. You could work as a weekly volunteer at a homeless shelter or soup kitchen. You could offer your services to a retirement community, teaching classes or playing music for the retirees. Or, if you’re up to it, you could travel abroad and provide aid to third world countries suffering from famine, disaster, or general poverty. The opportunities are, literally, endless for a college student who desires to make a difference.

And what makes college students so good at being volunteers is the unique experience they have while attending university. Their schedules are often less busy. They have free weekends and wide-open summers to devote to volunteer work. They are often actively involved in politics and projects for social change. Their youth, enthusiasm, and intellectual interests usually make them perfect volunteers, giving them the ability to reach out and help others. If you’re a college student who wants to help others, volunteering is your best bet.

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