Guest Post – Using Volunteer Service to Prepare for College and Career
In our twenty-first century economy, a classroom education is no longer adequate to prepare a student for college and career. One way for students to gain the knowledge and skills that will prepare them for postsecondary success is by getting involved in service opportunities. Participating in extracurricular activities, such as volunteering and community service, can help a students to learn more about their values and interests while simultaneously developing many of the soft skills necessary to be successful in college and career. Volunteer service is an effective way for students to actively address critical issues in their own communities. When students are active in volunteer service, they develop self-efficacy and begin to understand their place within our social-political world. This type of work goes beyond the abstract and theoretical world of the classroom and helps a student to gain real life experience in diverse settings, sparking career pathway interests they may not have thought about. Additionally, volunteer service can be a postsecondary pathway in itself, where students are able to receive scholarships for college and participate in career pathway discernment and skill building.
In the state of Arizona, students are expected to record their volunteer service in their four-year Education and Career Action Plan (ECAP). This process encourages students establish career goals and aspirations based upon their individual skill sets and experiences; many of which have been developed during their volunteer service activities. As young adults embark on their college and career journey, they are able to look back on their contributions to their community and recognize the impact they can truly make as involved, civic minded adults.
Elle Gemma Gruver is an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer working in Special Projects, College and Career Readiness (ECAP) for the Arizona Department of Education