Top 3 Volunteer Opportunities for High School Students

Top 3 Volunteer Opportunities for High School Students (and which ones are the best fit for you!)

If you’ve been thinking…

“I want to start volunteering, but I don’t know where to start!”
“It seems like most high school students volunteer at senior centers, libraries, and hospitals. What are some options so that I can stand out among thousands of college applicants?

I’m sorry to break it to you, but if those are some the questions you’re asking yourself, don’t even bother it. Volunteering is not about “standing out”. In fact, college admissions will know that you’re just trying to list another activity on your application. Be real with yourself. Finding the best volunteering opportunity for you is not going to come out of nowhere.

I know this all sounds a bit cruel, but it’s true.

Here’s what dean of undergraduate admissions from Yale University had to say about volunteering.

“We are looking for things that are harder to quantify, `{`like`}` authentic intellectual engagement and concern for others and the common good.”

You need to realize college admissions committees are looking for students who are authentic and genuine about their interests.

To help you get clear on who you truly want to reach out to, I created a starter list for you– the Top 3 Volunteer Opportunities for High School Students to help you find your best fit.  These are in no particular order, whichever sounds like the best fit for you should be your number one!

Type 1: Media & Broadcasting


Students who:
– Plan on pursuing a major in education, marketing, and/or technology
– Enjoy online platforms (social media, online education [i.e., Khan Academy], blogs, etc.)
– Prefer to volunteer from home due to geographic restrictions, transportation, or any other reasons

What will you do? 
– Create educational and entertainment content through a non-profit organization for African children whose regular learning resources are often unaffordable
– Read stories for broadcast at your own home and send mp3/wav digital files to children in developing countries
– Work as a social media intern by writing weekly or bi-weekly posts for non-profit organizations in order to spread awareness on various topics, such as hunger, homelessness, education, and community outreach

Why is this important?
Students will be able to help people different from themselves, in terms of geography, race, class, political ideology, and other characteristics. Through these types of experiences, students will be able to hone their capacity to appreciate communities and societies outside of their own neighborhood. And, colleges are looking for students who have developed a rich understanding of other perspectives and cultures.

Type 2: Disaster Relief


Students who:
– Plan on pursuing a major in international relations, public health, therapy and rehabilitation, psychology, sociology, public relations, etc.
– Prefer hands-on and physical tasks
– Are interested in addressing the immediate needs of communities impacted by natural disasters

What will you do? 
– Cooperate in a short or long-term house building project, by building house frames and delivering them to at-risk kids and families with severe housing situations
– Assist people affected by disasters, ranging from home fires to hurricanes, by providing food, shelter, and essential relief supplies at emergency relief centers

Why is this important?
Students will build ethical awareness and character by recognizing that their service is directly impacting the lives of people affected by an unforeseen disaster. Colleges want to see that students engage in an activity that is authentically chosen so that they have a chance to reflect with adults or peers about how society functions in times of hardships.

Type 3: Education & Literacy


Students who:
– Enjoy working with children and/or students
– Like teaching and instructing others

What will you do? 
– Read to kids from low-income backgrounds, and share the joy of reading by volunteering at local elementary schools
– Support library staff as a tech volunteer by answering research and informational questions
– Help students with computer-based learning and character development at learning centers and/or local libraries
– Guide visitors by demonstrating hands-on experiments at a local museum and/or amusement park

Why is this important?
This volunteer opportunity is unique because these opportunities are not just doing “for” others, but doing “with” others. Colleges are looking for students who deepen their understanding of themselves, helping them to figure out who they want to be and why.

I’ll leave you with this reminder.

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, what are you doing for others?” - Martin Luther King Jr.
julie kim