Benefits of Volunteering for Students



Should you volunteer in high school and college? Volunteering as a student is a great way to give back to your community and help those in need. Beyond benefiting your community, however, volunteering has various personal benefits: it can help your career path, improve your college and graduate school applications, help you meet new people, and even improve your chances of getting scholarships. 

Here are 10 reasons why you should volunteer in high school and college, as well as advice for identifying your volunteership goals and seeking out volunteer opportunities in your community.

10 benefits of volunteering

1. Become involved in your community

Volunteering is a great way to connect with your community and others who live in your area. Many people go about their lives without ever really getting to know their neighbors or being involved in their community. Volunteering is an easy way to become an active member of society and to help others around you. Moreover, by helping others in your community, you are making it a better, friendlier place to live.

2. Meet new people and make connections

Volunteering is a great way to meet others and make connections outside of your typical circle. In high school and college, it can be difficult to make connections outside of your classes. Volunteer work allows you to come into contact with people of all ages and from all walks of life. Moreover, volunteering in your field of study can help you get in touch with people who have experience and connections in your field. “Anytime you get to meet someone, in any way, is a chance to network,” Natalia Guarin-Klein, director of the Magner Career Center at Brooklyn College, told TUN

The right volunteer position can help you find mentorship opportunities and professional guidance. This is a great way to meet interesting people and expand your social and professional networks.

3. Build social skills

Volunteering is a great way to develop your social skills and learn to interact in professional settings. When you volunteer, you end up spending a lot of time interacting and cooperating with others, helping you build better relationships and communication skills. In a survey of over 1,000 adults, nearly 90 percent said that volunteering improved their social life. When you volunteer for a cause or organization that you are interested in, you are likely to meet several people with similar interests. As a result, it is an easy way to connect with new people and find friends who share your interests and lifestyles.

4. Improve your mental and physical health

Volunteering improved people’s sense of well-being, including mental and physical health, over time, according to a 2020 study

Research also shows that volunteering has several mental health benefits, decreasing risk of depression and reducing overall stress. It can help improve interpersonal skills and relationships, increase self-confidence, and provide a sense of purpose. Both high school and college students struggle with anxiety and depression, and there is evidence that volunteering can reduce these symptoms.

Volunteering has also been shown to improve physical health. Several studies have connected volunteering to a variety of health benefits, including lower blood pressure and a longer lifespan. In general, doing volunteer work is a good way to get physical activity. Many people spend large amounts of their time sitting or working on computers. One study found that people who volunteered regularly and with altruistic intentions had lower mortality risk and longer expected lifespans.

5. Boost school applications

Whether you are applying to undergrad or graduate school, volunteering can help you demonstrate positive traits such as experience, leadership, and an interest in helping your community on your application. 

How volunteering can help with college application

High school students may not have much work experience when they apply to college, and volunteering is a great way to show that you have experience in a work environment. Volunteering regularly shows that you are willing to put in time and work toward a cause that you are interested in. “Admissions folks and anybody that’s shaping that class, they’re looking to find students’ depth of interest,” educational consultant Belinda Wilkerson told TUN. That is to say that volunteer work can be a strong addition to your college application so long as you show a long-term interest in and commitment to it.

How volunteering can help with grad school application

If you are applying to graduate school, volunteering in your field can be a great way to show that you have an interest in your field beyond academics. For example, if you are interested in studying gerontology in graduate school, you might want to pursue a volunteer position at a nursing home. Alternatively, veterinarian’s school applicants may want to pursue a position at an animal shelter. In any case, volunteer positions should be one of several parts of a strong application that shows your experience in your field of study.

6. Earn scholarships

Volunteering increases your chances of winning merit scholarships by improving your applications and opening the doors to scholarships available to those who can demonstrate community service. 

Here are a few examples of such scholarships:

AIFS Diversity Scholarship

The American Institute for Foreign Study (AIFS) Diversity Scholarship is annually awarded to minority college and university students to help them study abroad. Applicants must demonstrate high academic achievement and/or participate in community service activities.

Jesse Jackson Fellows Toyota Scholarship

The Jesse Jackson Fellows – Toyota Scholarship is annually awarded to rising undergraduate sophomores studying business or engineering. Among other things, applicants must have demonstrated participation in community service.

Traub-Dicker Rainbow Scholarship

Administered by the Stonewall Foundation, the Traub-Dicker Rainbow Scholarship is annually awarded to college-bound high school seniors and current undergraduate and graduate students. Applicants must show academic achievement, outstanding community service and leadership, and a commitment to impacting LGBTQ issues.

For more scholarship opportunities, check TUN’s Scholarship Search Engine.

7. Improve career prospects

Volunteering can benefit your career prospects by helping you expand your professional network, develop skills, and improve your resume. In one survey of volunteers, 10 percent said that they received new job offers after volunteering, and 8 percent went so far as to change careers. Furthermore, while only 30 percent of job applicants put volunteering on their resume, 86 percent of hiring influencers indicate that volunteer experience makes a resume more competitive.

If you put in enough time and effort, you may even gain job opportunities at related volunteer organizations and nonprofits.

8. Develop your skill set

Volunteering is a great way to learn new skills and sharpen those that you already have. Volunteer work varies dramatically. You might be canvassing people on the street, planting trees, or working with children or the elderly. Some organizations even need volunteers to help with administrative work. No matter what you do in your volunteer work, you will be pushed to do things you’ve never done before and develop new skills. Volunteering has been shown to have a particularly positive impact on leadership, communication, and fundraising skills.

9. Develop new interests

You could find yourself developing a passion for your volunteer activities. Working in an animal shelter, you may find that you love working with animals. Or perhaps by working in your community parks, you find that you love activities like gardening and working outdoors. In this way, volunteering can open you up to new experiences and engage in activities that you otherwise may never have done. It is not uncommon for people to find new passions through their volunteer experiences. Research has indicated that volunteering not only enables people to express their passions, but can actually deepen their level of commitment to a cause.

10. Have fun

Above all else, volunteering can be a lot of fun. Through your volunteer work, you will meet new people and have unique experiences. You may make great friends through your volunteer organization. Try signing up for volunteer opportunities with a friend so you can experience it all together.

Questions you should ask yourself before you volunteer

To get the most out of your volunteer experience, you should know what you want to get out of it beforehand. Reflecting on these questions can help you identify what you want out of your volunteer experience.

What causes am I interested in? 

You should always be invested in your volunteer work. Think about causes that are personally meaningful to you and that you would enjoy committing time to.

How much time can I commit?

It’s good to think about how much time you can and are willing to commit to volunteer work. If you are already very busy, even a small commitment of a few hours a week is worth doing, as many organizations are looking for any help they can get. 

What do I want to get out of volunteering? 

Before you begin volunteering, it is important to understand what you want to get out of your volunteer experience. Evaluate your goals and priorities, and then find organizations that can help you achieve them.

How much guidance do I want/need? 

Are you someone who thrives under direct supervision, or do you like to do things on your own? 

What skills can I offer an organization? 

Seek out volunteer opportunities where you can bring your skills to the table and make the most impact. 

What skills do I want to develop? 

Do you want to improve your interpersonal skills or develop a better grasp on your field of study or work? Think about how you want to improve so you can find a position where you can grow.

Community service ideas

There are several types of nonprofit and community organizations that are frequently in need of volunteers.

Animal shelters

Do you consider yourself an animal lover? Working at a local shelter is a great way to help animals in need, keep them company, and pair them with loving families.

Community gardens and parks

Help make your community beautiful. Many parks and community gardens and state and national parks are regularly looking for volunteers to help plant trees and flowers and clean up garbage.

Food banks

Food banks and pantries are always in need of help. You may be asked to help package food, cook, or serve lunch. In any case, you will be making an impact by helping deliver food to the hungry. If you are in college, look into programs helping students on your own campus. Nearly 4 in 10 college students experience food insecurity. Look into helping your student community by volunteering in local and campus food banks, as well as student initiatives to fight hunger.

Homeless shelters

There are over 500,000 people in the U.S. experiencing homelessness every night. If you want to help those in need, working for a shelter can help make a true impact on their lives.

Nursing homes

Senior citizens frequently need assistance in their daily lives and many simply could use some companionship. By volunteering in a nursing home, you can bring a little extra joy to an elderly person’s life.

Local libraries

Are you a book lover? Many libraries need assistance with event programming and organizing their collections. As a volunteer at a library, you may help lead book discussion groups, work with children, and teach people how to read.

These are just a few examples of organizations that often take volunteers. If you need help finding a volunteer position, TUN’s volunteer platform matches eager student volunteers with the nonprofit organizations that appeal to them the most.

Making the most out of volunteering 

As with many things in life, what you get out of volunteering largely depends on what you put into it. Before you start volunteering, you should identify what exactly you want to get out of it, and then find a volunteer position that matches your goals. Devote as much time as you can to your volunteer work. Many college towns are in need of volunteers and student volunteer rates are down compared to previous years. So student volunteer positions are available in many student communities. If you find the right match and put in the work, you may be surprised how much you gain from the experience.


Volunteering is the best way to become involved and help others in your local community. Whether you are serving lunch in a food pantry or teaching English at your local library, volunteering can help you gain new skills and perspectives, help you meet new people, and make you a happier and healthier person.

Check TUN’s volunteer platform to connect with volunteering opportunities in your area.

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