PRO: Mandatory volunteering opens doors to benefits

With tests, quizzes, extracurriculars and hours spent on homework, it’s easy for students to forget the benefits of volunteering. Community service should be adapted as a graduation requirement because it offers valuable gains to students.

Although this might not be the case for all colleges or universities, volunteering during high school is a plus and should be a requirement to graduate. While college admissions are most commonly associated with students’ GPA, people tend to forget colleges also consider volunteering when looking at applications.

A study of admissions officers from the Top 50 colleges and universities by U.S. News & World Report showed that community service is something they believe students should have on their résumés. If the main purpose of high school is to gain entrance to and succeed at a college, then volunteering is a step every student should be encouraged to take.

While the number of volunteer hours will not tell colleges which students are actually passionate about what they are doing, if students are also required to explain what they did in those hours, colleges will be able to distinguish between students volunteering for graduation requirements and volunteering out of their own volition. If a student volunteers in five different clubs with no correlation to their major, the hours will look differently than a student volunteering for groups connected to their career choices.

Along with helping the college application process, it can also help students acquire real world experience before looking into a career. Students who want to pursue a medical profession can volunteer at a local hospital and expand their knowledge in the field. With the experience, students are offered the opportunity to network and gain connections with those in the profession who could help them in the future. Students also have the chance to experience what they’ve learned in classrooms in a practical and applicable way, which can help them see if a career is the right fit for them.

Volunteering also provides mental well-being. According to a study by UCSD researchers, serving others reduces stress and improves health, as focusing on someone else interrupts usual tension-producing patterns. Students might also feel more fulfilled after helping others who need their assistance.

Putting personal advantages aside, the purpose of volunteering is to give back to the community and help the needy. Many social issues need attention, but high schoolers are often too focused on their own situation to take action. We take time to complain about every bad test score, every argument with our parents and how we are not getting everything we “need.” Meanwhile, there’s a world outside our school that needs help. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that about 815 million people in the world suffered from chronic undernourishment in 2016. Yet, teens are constantly complaining about hunger two hours after they ate. Volunteer at a soup kitchen to witness what real hunger is all about.

High school graduation should require volunteering. They should be pushed to gain these academic and personal benefits while helping the community and expanding perspectives.