Giving back to one’s community is an important part of personal growth throughout all stages of life, and high school students can benefit greatly from these opportunities. Summer break is an excellent time to get involved, as community service can be paired with work, camp, or academic enrichment.

In addition to learning more about yourself and having a positive impact on your community, service opportunities help high school students bolster their college applications by demonstrating a well-rounded list of experiences and a desire to better the world around them. Here are three tips to get you started in narrowing down your search for the right community service activity.

Tip #1: Identify Your Personality, Interests, and Abilities

In order to make the best choices for you, it’s important to know yourself. Think about these four categories and ask yourself, “Who am I?”

  • Interests
  • Personality
  • Knowledge, Skills and Abilities
  • Values

Another way to learn about your preferences and strengths is through assessments. Julie Raynor Gross, president and founder of Collegiate Gateway, is a Master Practitioner of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Personality Assessment and Strong Interest Inventory Assessment. These two tools give you insights into academic and career paths, as well as how you prefer to interact with people, learn, and communicate. Contact us to use these assessments to identify your interests, passions, and future goals!

Tip #2: Deepen an Existing Interest

Look for service opportunities that complement the interests and passions you’ve identified, and you’ll gain even more long-term benefits from volunteering. Consider the activities you have pursued during your high school academic years and summers. What have you enjoyed the most? Would you like to further your involvement? Many students are able to extend an existing activity or interest into a service opportunity.

Consider these examples:

Reading Buddy

Meera is passionate about literature and writing, and she plans to major in journalism in college. During the summer, Meera volunteered as a Reading Buddy with the local elementary school. She hoped to spark a love of reading in young children by reading books together each week. You can also find opportunities for tutoring or helping young children through local religious organizations, youth groups, and libraries.

Eco-Community Service Project on Greek Islands

Jonathan found his passion for environmental and earth science through a high school course and began to look for opportunities to learn more about biodiversity. He chose to pair this interest with travel and service in a program with Abbey Road. He traveled to the Greek Islands with other high school students to participate in various eco-community service project with locals, like organizing beach clean ups and helping stray animals, all while learning about Greece’s flora and plants.

Working with Children

Many students cherish their years at summer camp, and Sally was no different. But this summer she wanted to find a way to bring that summer camp spirit to students who had never experienced it before. She joined the program, Global Routes in the Caribbean where she helped design a two-week summer camp for local children. She brought the love of camp to their community through activities like sports and the arts.

Tip #3: Explore a New Interest

Other students use the summer to pursue an entirely new interest in order to explore a field as a potential major or even career. Here are examples of students that combined exploring a new area with a service opportunity:

Global Works: Intro to Pre-Med and Public Health in Costa Rica

Benjamin was inspired by the Covid-19 pandemic and the critical role played by first-responders and medical professionals. He is now considering a career in medicine and found an experiential summer travel program through Global Works. He will travel abroad to learn from the local healthcare providers and volunteer his services in clinics, kids’ health education classes, and with alternative health practitioners in acupuncture and plant therapy.

Civic Leadership Institute

The ongoing political and social movements over the last year have sparked an interest in Gabriella to get involved. The Center for Talent Development at Northwestern University offers the Civic Leadership Institute for high school students. It provides an opportunity to explore current social and political issues through service-learning experiences and exchanges with community leaders. She hopes that her involvement in this program will give her the skills necessary to start making a difference in her local community.

Service + Cultural Immersion

Anna is eager to take a leap this summer and try something totally new. She will be traveling abroad, living with a host family, and volunteering in local communities while experiencing cultural immersion and strengthening her Spanish-speaking skills. She is exploring a variety of programs that offer opportunities like this, including GoBeyond Travel and Visions Service Adventures.

Once you have identified your interests, passions and future goals, decide what kind of summer service project you want to pursue. Whether you choose to join an organization or create an opportunity on your own, a summer of community service will certainly provide you with a meaningful and impactful experience.

We are happy to guide you in the search for a summer service experience that will help you develop your potential and position you for success! Sign up for a free consultation and see our events schedule for virtual presentations geared toward high school students.