For all the attention paid to making sure high school students collect impressive experiences that can decorate their college applications, not nearly as much attention is paid to simply enriching their lives through the opportunities available to them. So when the subject of volunteering comes up, it’s far more often referenced as something that will make your college application shine.
But there’s much more to volunteering than the line it occupies on a resume or application. Volunteering has significant mental and emotional health benefits for its participants. High schoolers in particular can see their self-esteem get a boost from their time spent volunteering.
There are a variety of summer volunteer programs for high school students that can help you or your children connect with volunteer opportunities that would be a good fit. By getting involved, teens can collect rewarding experiences that may never fully be conveyed on a resume, but the effects on their future can be demonstrable — and very visible.
Here are three ways volunteering can boost a high school student’s self-esteem:
1. Gain confidence and a sense of achievement
Some high school students may be out there to collect a certain number of volunteer hours, but most volunteers donate their time because they want to work for causes that they are passionate about. Being able to contribute to those areas of need can create a sense of accomplishment and achievement that is often lost in the rat race for good grades and exceptional accolades. Volunteering can be a personal experience that is emotionally gratifying while also being fun and relaxing. High school students can ride that wave of fulfillment into other parts of their life, improving their mental health at school and/or at work.
2. Feel good by doing good
Most teens have such frenzied schedules that the idea of losing even an hour is enough to rack them with anxiety. But when you’re volunteering, that donation of time is easily written off as a small cost of serving the greater good. Without the pressure to perform that is applied by so many other areas of life, teens can simply enjoy their experiences and the fruits of their labors. Desire and enthusiasm are hot commodities in volunteer work — and in life, for that matter — and they can breed more of the same.
3. Discover new hobbies and interests
Volunteering is a great way for teens to learn more about themselves and their interests. It’s a way that many young people discover new passions that they never may have expected. These passions could later develop into hobbies or even careers. Because volunteering forces you to look and think outside of the box, it exposes you to experiences and ideas you might not have otherwise considered. And the realization of just how many opportunities are available to you can be an invigorating experience for a high schooler.
Life may seem interminably busy when you’re 17 years old, but it’s important to slow down and take stock of the world surrounding you. With so many scholastic and extracurricular pressures, that’s often easier said than done. Experiences like volunteering often force you to be more mindful of the world and just what, exactly, you’re doing with your life. And that increased awareness is sure to inspire self-confidence in young people.