By E.C., Palo Alto
As the students get on the bus to volunteer at a poor nearby school, some students slump toward the bus while others continue laughing with their friends like they hold no regard for volunteering. The bus ride to the school is a constant buzz, filled with questions about what they will do there and who they will be helping. Many sit apathetically, but some are very interested. Although a study done showed that 30% of schools across California required mandatory volunteering from their students, the same poll showed that over half the students loathed volunteering. Parents, teachers, and faculty members all agree that volunteering is good for students, but many students disagree. Is it worth it for students to give up valuable school time in order to learn essential life skills through volunteering? The answer is yes. Schools should require mandatory volunteering because it allows students to learn important skills needed in the real world and give back to their respective communities.
Students should be required to complete a certain number of volunteer hours because volunteering teaches the important lessons of teamwork, self-esteem, and happiness. Being a volunteer, one has to work with their peers and the people they are helping, so students gain understanding of cooperating with others. Also, a study showed that volunteering makes one not only feel happier but also boosts self-confidence because one feels accomplished that they have helped others. In addition, volunteering should be mandatory because it expands connections within the community, making it more interconnected. A student volunteering with a specific organization or person could be useful later, perhaps by earning a job position in that organization when they grow older. Moreover, just making new strangers into friends is an important life skill because once one makes friends with others, they may give valuable pieces of advice. For instance, they may tell mistakes that they made and how to get over them. Volunteering in schools should be mandatory because it grows a person’s good characteristics and helps make new connections with different people.
In addition to developing personality, required volunteering gives students a chance to give back to their respective communities. Students that are forced to volunteer can give back to the community in many different ways from building new benches for elementary schools to simply tutoring others who need help. While doing these small tasks may seem insignificant, it helps a student feel empathetic for the people they are helping and so helps the student interact with others better than they have before, which builds closer relationships. Also, giving back to the community makes people feel more purpose in what they are doing, which often helps them work more productively than when they drag themselves to work. Finally, a student feels achievement because he or she has helped people to create better lives for themselves.
Some may say that when volunteering is mandatory, students will do a lackluster job as it seems like just another task. While this may be true, at least half-hearted volunteering is better than no volunteering at all. Volunteering educates students to learn new skills such as teamwork, cooperation, and kindness, which allows them to get along with others easily. Moreover, it is a place where students can build bonds with others and make new friends. Finally, volunteering could be useful in a college or job occupation as it shows that one is caring and has the fundamental skills to work with others. To the people who believe that the time spent volunteering could be better used elsewhere, such as studying for exams or attending summer camps, this rarely happens. Instead, most of the time, students are unproductive, preferring to surf social media or play games.
Volunteering in schools matures students because it helps them learn more about themselves. In addition, from cooperating with others, to building benches to tutoring a lower classman, volunteering makes students feel more accomplished, happy, and satisfied, while simultaneously helping them make new connections and friends. Moreover, volunteering gives students a sense of purpose and achievement as they are bettering their communities by helping others create better lives for themselves. While everyone would love to see less restrictions on students and letting them make difficult choices, the truth is that giving schools the power to discipline and guide their students goes a long way in helping the students as students often make poor decisions. Finally, students should start to realize that life is not completely about sports or grades, but helping others and making the world a better place through volunteering. Hopefully, in the future, schools will start to implement mandatory volunteering.