Students who participate in high-quality community-based service-learning enjoy a number of benefits, both in their personal and professional life, according to numerous studies carried out in K-12 and higher education programs.
One study that analyzed data from the National Education Longitudinal Study found that students who are more civically engaged tend to perform better in school subjects such as reading, history, science and mathematics and are more apt to complete high school.
Researchers also found that community service enhanced students’ problem-solving skills, improved their ability to work within a team and enabled them to plan more effectively.
[Check out our infographic on how education affects volunteer rate.]
Higher learning institutions have recognized these benefits, and schools such as the Eastern New Mexico University and Michigan State University have begun involving their students in community projects and even volunteer opportunities abroad.
Another benefit of service-learning is that young people are far more likely to remain engaged when they can see that their participation is effecting change. This helps them to realize that they are able to make useful contributions to society through service and social action.
It also helps students to cultivate connections between various organizations, schools and community groups, which can prove to be very useful later on in life.
Flore Dorcely-Mohr, Assistant Director of the Federal Community Service Program at Drew University, reports that many of her participants have experienced multiple benefits from community service programs.
“Community service helps [students ]to mature by developing social skills, doing outreach or public relations tasks. Additionally, students get to network with professionals in a way that they might not otherwise be able to just by going to class,” says Dorcely.
“When these connections are made, students find they have valuable references that can lead to other career opportunities later on. Finally, volunteering allows students to make an important contribution to an organization or their field of interest without the pressure of a regular part time or full time job.
Some of these volunteering jobs may lead to an internship or a paid position, but even if that does not happen, the projects teach responsibility and work ethic to those who take them seriously.”
David Bakke, education expert and columnist at Money Crashers, was an active participant in community service during his time in school and believes that it helped to boost his self-confidence and also made an impression on employers when he eventually entered the job market.
“Students who volunteer can gain important life experiences, meet new people, and may be able to receive school credit. It can also enhance a college admissions application,” says Bakke.
“When volunteering, students enjoy a sense of personal satisfaction, knowing that they’re making a difference in other peoples’ lives. It also teaches them more about themselves and introduces them to new friends. They also gain a sense of connection to their community.
Also, employers often take note of volunteering experience on a resume, and this helps applicants stand out from those who have no experience volunteering.”