Requirements to graduate from a US high school vary in each state. Many states recommend minimum standards but also allow school districts to add additional graduation requirements to the standard minimums. One of these additions can be that students must volunteer to graduate high school. This means students may have to spend some time acquiring “service” hours with reputable nonprofit agencies in order to earn their diplomas.
Every student should know whether they need to volunteer to graduate high school, and if so, exactly how much volunteering they will need to do. Schools are generally required to fully disclose all graduation standards to students. This way, students aren’t accidentally surprised by having to fulfill a huge number of service hours in the last few weeks of their senior year.
When schools do require students to volunteer, they often make available various lists of volunteer opportunities. The best programs make it an easy thing for students, and offer them little hardship in fulfilling these tasks. For instance, schools often have many places on the school campus where students can fulfill service hours. Some schools even allow students to volunteer for individuals or private for-profit businesses rather than for non-profit organizations.
Even if a school does not require you to volunteer to graduate, there’s a strong argument to be made for doing it anyway. Some schools offer a certain amount of credits/units toward graduation if you volunteer. Another benefit to becoming a volunteer, even when it isn’t required, is that it looks fantastic on college applications. Colleges seek students that are not only good at school, but also are invested in their communities. When you’ve helped run a camp, worked answering phones, or visited seniors, colleges see that there is more to you than simply good grades.
Of course, another strong benefit to working outside of class is that you can explore different career paths. If you don’t have to volunteer to graduate high school, you still have to plan for your future after you graduate. Opportunities to work in a number of different fields can give you more options and help you decide what most interests you, and what you definitely don’t want to do.
If your school doesn’t require you to volunteer, and doesn’t have any programs set up for students, consider volunteering to set one up. Alternately, contact your local volunteer center or charitable organizations like the United Way® to get information about ways you can help out your community and opportunities to participate as a volunteer in professions you’re considering as possible career choices.