Volunteering: A Passion or a Necessity?

Whitney Patterson, Staff Writer

Volunteering: a simple way to brighten the day of tables of retired people playing cards, groups of young children at an after-school program playing Simon Says or citizens at a soup kitchen on a Saturday afternoon. Volunteering should be a meaningful, intrinsic process; something that one does for the good of their community. As of late, however, pressure to stand out in college admissions has led to an epidemic of students trying to outdo one another by volunteering more and more. Competition in this respect can be healthy as students can help motivate their friends to serve. However, this competition has grown to concerning levels. When pressure to appear well-rounded becomes the motivation to volunteer, volunteering loses what makes it special: serving others for community benefit.

According to the Huffington Post, dedication through volunteering “is the true measuring gauge” of a good applicant for college. What college applications do not measure, however, is the intent behind the hours of volunteering. One should have internal motivation to volunteer. Volunteering should be done to make a difference. Volunteering should be done to connect with others. Volunteering should be done to grow as a person. Volunteering should not be done to impress others or to fill a resume. Volunteering solely to appear like a dedicated individual has become a common part of the college process, and must be changed.

In addition to college applications, clubs, extracurriculars and honor societies such as National Honor Society (NHS), Key Club and National Charity League (NCL) require volunteer hours, which is not inherently a bad thing. Volunteering for these extracurriculars help one’s time management skills as well as shows dedication. Yet, if a large portion of students in the school participate in these organizations and serve at the same places, service becomes commonplace. Eventually, students simply go through the motions of volunteering, inherently leaving out the most important ingredient in an application: passion. Passion to volunteer apart from necessity is what helps build strong leaders and lasting communities.

In order to display true passion and commitment on a college application and not simply contrived service, volunteer at places you enjoy. The Plano community has hundreds of nonprofit organizations that aid a variety of groups, so there is surely a cause where everyone can devote their time. Additionally, volunteering for organizations that are meaningful to you help you cultivate passion, which may then motivate you to take on a leadership role in the group. This passion could eventually translate into a future career or hobby where you find satisfaction and pride. Rather than going through the motions or volunteering absentmindedly, dedicate yourself to a cause you love for the good of the community.