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At the end of your semester, you probably want to sleep, sleep, and sleep some more. But once you’re awake, what will you do with your time?
Julia Barnard, former co-director of alternative breaks and 2012 graduate of the University of Kansas in Lawrence, says, “Breaks from school give students time to learn in ways that aren’t possible during school time.”
The benefits of volunteering are numerous: providing assistance to people in need, supporting your community, and according to a 2010 survey by United Healthcare and VolunteerMatch, 95 percent of volunteers agreed that their emotional health improves, too. Ninety-six percent felt helping other people increases happiness, and 68 percent indicated that volunteering made them feel physically healthier. Do good for others, do good for you!
There’s no better time to volunteer than in college. Most campuses are ripe with opportunities.
In a recent Student Health 101 survey, students said they find ways to volunteer through their majors, their fraternities or sororities, their health centers, and more.
More School Resources for Volunteering
- Student clubs and activities
- Student government
- Fraternities and sororities
- Health and wellness center
- Honor societies
- Religious groups
- Campus chapters of national and international initiatives, such as Amnesty International
Many schools take groups of students to locations around the country or even abroad for volunteering sessions that range from a few days to a few weeks. Barnard says her experiences have helped her develop cross-cultural relationships and learn about non-profit work.
You can even get a group of friends together and travel to a place that has ongoing needs, like New Orleans or Haiti.
However you volunteer, you’ll return to school with a lot to talk about, something great for your résumé, and more appreciation for the world around you.
Ideas About Starting Your Own Initiative
- Visit your student activities office and ask about volunteering opportunities. If you’re a member of a fraternity, sorority, or honor society, your group may have established programs as well.
- Many religious organizations offer service opportunities. Even if you’re not a member, your help will likely be welcomed. The holiday season is a particularly busy time.
- If you want a little adventure, consider contacting a non-profit organization in another community or country.
- Some organizations will provide housing, often with a local family or in a shared environment. This is a great way to soak up the language and culture of a place, and get to know new people. Don’t expect the Ritz, though.
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