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College Community Service Keeps You Connected

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College community service can include habitat restoration projects.

College community service can include habitat restoration projects.

When I was a student, college community service opened my eyes to what a beautiful area my school was in, helped me meet some amazing new people, and took me out of my comfort zone.

I went to college in a tiny town in the middle of Ohio, surrounded by farmland and Amish country. As a freshman, I had a work study job as a teacher's assistant in the local elementary school, and loved it so much that I stayed on as a volunteer after I got another job on campus. Here are some great reasons to participate in community service while you're in college.

Volunteering Keeps You Connected
Whether you go to school in a small town or a big city, it's easy to forget there's a world outside of classes, social activities, and napping. I began to realize that many of my fellow students got stuck in "the bubble" of our little college oasis, and only saw the town as the place where their college was — but there is so much more outside of college life to explore.

Even though I adored the campus, I loved my time away from it, as well. My walk to the school made me realize just how beautiful the scenery in Ohio is, and my time at the elementary school made me feel connected to the "real world."

College Community Service Is Good for You
It's true. It reduces stress and improves your health! Experts say when you focus on others, "it interrupts usual tension-producing patterns." It can also improve your sense of self-worth and make you happy.

I got addicted to the attention I got from the second-grade students when I walked into that classroom. They were always so happy to see me, and the teacher I worked with was always so relieved when I was there to make copies for her and do errands. It felt really rewarding to be able to help.

It Takes You out of Your Comfort Zone
You can volunteer with friends, but don't be afraid to go by yourself, either. Once you settle into your group of friends, it can seem hard to break away from the pack. However, volunteering will lead you to meet new people — both other student volunteers and people in the community of all ages.

My volunteer work was something that only I did — none of my friends came with me, and none of them would get to have the same experiences as me. I got to know some of the families of the kids I worked with, so I started volunteering for events at the local community center, such as holiday parties. I also led tours for kids at the environmental center.

When you go to college, consider the neighborhood where your school is and start thinking about how you can get involved in college community service. Look into some student-run organizations, or find out about local organizations on your own. You'll make new friends, do something good for others, and break out of that college bubble.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons