Volunteering in High School | The Benefits & Opportunities

High school volunteering
February 9, 2024
8 min read
Expert Reviewed


Reviewed by:

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 2/9/24

For many students, volunteering work is mandatory for high school graduation. Though some students look at volunteering as a chore, many benefits add to your college application resume. 

While you might think volunteering in high school is free labor, its reward doesn’t come in monetary form. Volunteer work teaches valuable skills such as dedication, leadership, innovation, perseverance, and a commitment to your vision. 

Tailoring your volunteer experience to align with your passion can enhance specific aspects of your college resume. For instance, aspiring veterinarians may choose to volunteer at an animal shelter to bolster their credentials. Discover the value of volunteering and the different volunteer opportunities you have as a high school student!

The Benefits of Volunteering as a High Schooler 

Volunteering is more than just collecting hours for graduation. Believe it or not, there are several benefits of volunteering in high school. These benefits provide life-long learning opportunities that can help you with your studies, future career, personal growth, and beyond.

student volunteers at food bank

You Can Do What You Love

More often than not, high school students are told to pursue their passions. As you juggle studies, extracurriculars, and other responsibilities, it can be challenging to find downtime to pursue your hobbies and passions. That said, why not do what you love while clocking in volunteer hours?

Nature lovers can dedicate their time to summer volunteering at their local community garden, animal lovers can consider volunteering at a community shelter or dog rescue, or if you’re an artist, volunteering at a gallery, theatre, or as an art teacher might be the experience for you.

There are a plethora of volunteer opportunities that allow you to learn and engage in something you’re passionate about!

It’s a Great Way to Meet New People

It’s always nice to meet new people and make new friends. Volunteering in high school allows students to meet new people from different walks of life, offering them new perspectives on the world. 

Volunteering is also a great way to socialize, which is beneficial for fighting loneliness, improving cognitive skills, and enhancing one’s well-being.

Giving Back to the Community

According to a recent study, engaging in prosocial behaviors is beneficial to one’s happiness and health. Getting good grades feels good, but being a part of positive change and giving back to your community feels incredible!

You Can Develop Career Skills

One benefit of volunteering in high school involves career-developing opportunities. So-called “soft skills” like leadership, teamwork, and communication. However, the learning doesn’t stop there!

Volunteering in high school can also expose students to a variety of technical skills like report writing, marketing, data entry, or inventory. Many of the skills that students pick up while volunteering in high school are transferable to their studies and careers.

15+ Volunteer Opportunities for High School Students

There are plenty of good examples of community service. That means there are boundless volunteer opportunities for students! While this list does not cover every single volunteer experience you can have, it will give you an idea of the kinds of volunteer opportunities available for high school students.

food bank volunteers

1. Food Sorter

Many local food banks require food sorters, volunteers who organize food donations based on best-before dates and the food type. Food sorters can also pack goods into food boxes and assist the food bank team with other duties. 

This role may require lifting, standing, and interacting with other food bank volunteers, making it a great role for those who want to be more proactive in their volunteer work.

2. Creative Writer

Help charities get their mission out to the world using your writing talents while developing your skills in communication. Plus, a huge benefit of this opportunity is that, depending on the company, it can be completed remotely, making it a flexible volunteer role.

3. Long-Term Care Volunteer

There are volunteer opportunities for high school students in long-term care facilities, from retirement homes to hospitals. Depending on the program, high school volunteers can engage in activities like working at the center’s general store, helping seniors during mealtimes, or interacting with the residents during recreational time.

This volunteer opportunity is ideal for students who love interacting with people. However, volunteering at a long-term care facility can also help make a difference in residents’ social lives.

woman reading to elderly woman

4. Event Planner

Typically, volunteer event planners will work as a team–in a committee–to fundraise for charities. For example, event planners may work together to host a walk to raise awareness for a disease, engaging in roles related to sponsorship, marketing, and recruitment. 

Event planning is a volunteer opportunity that involves a lot of multi-tasking while allowing you to learn new skills, from managing social media content to interacting with customers.

5. Social Media Coordinator

High schoolers who are extra savvy on social media can try their hand as volunteer social media coordinators for a charity or non-profit organization. Working with a team, the volunteer can create promotional content for the organization’s social media accounts, from advertising fundraisers to other fun initiatives. 

This volunteer opportunity for high school students is a creative way to form skills in multitasking, marketing, design, and teamwork. 

6. Program Instructor

Consider completing your volunteer hours at your local community center, assisting with or teaching a class that speaks to your interests. 

Teach kids how to paint, lead a dance class, or provide introductory computer lessons to senior citizens. As a program instructor, you’ll help members of the community learn new things while developing and nurturing skills of your own!

7. Museum Volunteer

Lovers of all things history and art ought to volunteer at their local museum. Museum volunteers can engage in many tasks, from facilitating children’s activities to supervising kids through the exhibits. 

Though many museums offer opportunities year-round, they also seek volunteers around the school break or during the holidays. Such a role is an ideal volunteering opportunity for enthusiastic high school students who love working with kids, enjoy activity planning, and are passionate about art and history.


8. Tutoring

If you are the kind of person who loves helping others achieve academic success, consider volunteering as a tutor. 

Besides tutoring a particular subject, volunteer tutors may also help students with various learning disabilities or needs. With that said, being a volunteer tutor is a rewarding experience that can develop a student’s communication skills, patience, and compassion for others.

9. STEM Outreach Volunteers

Across the country, there are universities and non-profit organizations dedicated to exposing young kids to science, specifically through outreach programs. 

As a STEM outreach volunteer, high school students can work with a team to facilitate in-class activities and teach STEM summer programs to young learners. Plus, an added perk of being an outreach volunteer includes networking with like-minded people passionate about STEM.

10. Community Gardener

Tend to a beautiful community garden by pruning weeds, watering plants, or planting garden beds for everyone to enjoy. While being a community gardener is hard work, this particular volunteer role is a great way for high school students to learn nifty horticultural practices while honing their skills for teamwork.

young woman gardening

11. Animal Shelter

Contact your local animal shelter to become a volunteer. As most animal shelters are non-profit and run by their volunteers, your work will be incredibly beneficial to them and will bolster your college resume. Plus, who doesn’t love helping an animal?

12. Libraries

This one’s for you, bookworms! Volunteering at a library can teach you organizational skills as you stock the shelves from the library book carts. Additionally, helping individuals locate valuable resources teaches interpersonal skills that will carry you through college.

Remember, many individuals who access libraries come from less fortunate backgrounds, so this is another way to give back to your community in a meaningful way.

13. Translator and Transcriber

If you’re fluent in more than one language or want to increase your typing speed, these opportunities could be right up your alley. Not only does this bolster your college application as it highlights your ability to speak in more than one language, but those typing skills can come in handy, especially with all those essays and assignments you’ll be writing.

14. Help Build Affordable Housing

Volunteer with organizations like Habitat for Humanity to help build affordable housing for families in need. This hands-on experience allows you to learn construction skills while contributing positively to your community. It also proves to colleges that you’re willing to commit and take direction to see a project to its completion.

15. Crisis Hotline Support

Consider volunteering for a crisis hotline or support service. Training in active listening and providing emotional support can be a powerful way to help those in need. This also demonstrates to college admissions that your listening and empathy skills are top-notch.

16. Community Choir or Music Program

Join a community choir or music program, bringing the joy of music to local residents. This experience promotes artistic expression and community connections. It could be a great addition to a college program in the arts.

17. Community Film Project

Take part in a community film project that raises awareness about local issues. Whether behind the camera or in supporting roles, you can use storytelling to make a positive impact in your community. This demonstrates a commitment to leadership and innovation to the college admissions committee.

20+ Community Service Examples for High School Students

As a high school student, it can be difficult to figure out what community service project to engage in to bolster your college admission application. The best community service project recognizes a concern within the community and solves that concern with their hard work and dedication.

1. Clean Up a Park

It doesn’t have to be Earth Day to clean up a local park. Look around - there’s litter everywhere. City locations are notorious for having piles of trash littered about parks and other communal locations. Most passersby won’t even look at the trash, so that’s where your volunteering comes in handy

With this service, you’re not just making the world cleaner, you’re learning organization and the importance of responsibility. Park-goers may thank you verbally or non-verbally as you create a safer space for everyone.


2. Help Your Neighbors

Owning a house comes with freedom, but it also comes with responsibility that becomes a burden. Raking leaves, shoveling snow from the driveway, mowing the lawn, and cleaning the gutters are all activities that many homeowners consider cumbersome. You can help your neighbors by doing the hard work for them.

Whether you’re enjoying the weather as you mow the lawn or stepping inside for a hot chocolate after shoveling the driveway, you can feel good about yourself knowing that you made life easier for someone in your community.

To college admissions, this shows that you’re willing to commit to hard work and perseverance if you set your mind to it.

3. Political Letter Campaign

Your city’s municipality deeply cares about everyone in your community - including high school students. In fact, in recent years, students have taken a more active approach when it comes to politics and industry professionals are happy to see it.

You don’t have to organize an entire gathering or march, but collect data from your community and write a letter to your city or town’s government. This proves to college admissions that you’re willing to take initiative as a demonstrated leader for your community.

4. Read to Kids

Oftentimes, parents are too busy with their daily responsibilities to engage in critical learning building blocks with their children, like reading. Children are extremely imaginative and enjoy visualizing scenes in their heads as they’re being read to. It’s an extremely important part not just of the learning process, but childhood in itself.

You can relieve parents of the burden of adding something else to their list by reading to their children. You can do this by volunteering at your local library or public elementary school and taking comfort in knowing that you’re making a difference in the child’s life.

College admissions admire the empathy and storytelling skills in this service, so it’s one not to be overlooked.

5. Walk Shelter Dogs

One thing that dogs have to do every day rain or shine is go on a walk. Many shelters are overrun with dogs and not enough staff to walk them all. That’s where your work can truly make a difference.

If you want to become a vet or go into the field of animal care, this opportunity could be an excellent choice for you. Not only does this teach you the basics of canine behavior, but you also form strong bonds with the dogs you take out.

 Additionally, this demonstrates to college admissions that you’re fully prepared to carry out your plan, regardless of the obstacles in your way.

person walking dog

6. Teach English to new immigrants

Teaching English to new immigrants demonstrates a commitment to fostering inclusivity and supporting individuals adapting to a new culture. This community service opportunity showcases empathy, cultural awareness, and a dedication to helping others overcome language barriers. 

College admissions officers value experiences that reflect a student's ability to contribute positively to a diverse community, making this an effective activity for showcasing global citizenship and community engagement.

7. Collect clothes and personal items for foster kids

Unfortunately, foster children are often among the least fortunate. Giving them something meaningful like clothing, shoes, stuffed animals, or toys could mean the world to them.

Organizing a drive to collect clothes and personal items for foster kids highlights a compassionate commitment to addressing the needs of vulnerable populations. This community service initiative not only demonstrates empathy and social responsibility but also showcases organizational and leadership skills. 

College admissions officers are likely to appreciate the initiative's tangible impact on the well-being of foster children, reflecting a student's dedication to making a positive difference in the lives of others.

8. Storytime for Seniors

Some seniors fear being alone for the rest of their lives. Having a volunteer reader by their side provides them with the companionship they’ve lost and are looking for.

As their reader, you play an integral role in their emotional well-being. This community service opportunity reflects excellent communication skills, patience, and a compassionate approach to addressing social isolation among the elderly. 

College admissions officers seek applicants who demonstrate empathy and an understanding of community needs, making this activity a valuable testament to a student's commitment to creating a supportive and inclusive environment.

9. Community Garden Party

Many city dwellers often find it challenging to cultivate a green environment amidst the concrete landscape dominated by skyscrapers and buildings. However, in recent years, urban planners have been advocating for the creation of dedicated spaces for greenery and nature, particularly within city environments.

Organizing a community garden party shows your dedication to environmental sustainability, community engagement, and the promotion of healthy lifestyles. This community service initiative reflects teamwork, leadership, and a hands-on approach to addressing local issues. 

College admissions officers appreciate activities that not only benefit the community aesthetically but also contribute to a sense of shared responsibility and pride in creating a greener and more vibrant community.

10. Hold an Upcycling Workshop

If something is used, does that mean it’s automatically trash? With a growing concern of increasing our landfills, there has been a push for eco-sustainability and upcycling.

Holding an upcycling workshop demonstrates creativity, environmental consciousness, and commitment to sustainable practices. This community service opportunity reflects leadership, as you take on the role of an educator, encouraging others to repurpose materials. 

College admissions officers appreciate initiatives that not only contribute to community engagement but also promote awareness of ecological responsibility and the importance of reducing waste.

11. Kindness Rocks Project

Sometimes, all we need is a little smile. Kindness rocks are stones decorated with messages that spread positivity and joy. You never know whose day you can be making by spreading these across your area.

This project shows your innovative approach to spreading positivity and uplifting community spirits. It reflects creativity, empathy, and a commitment to fostering a positive environment. 

College admissions officers are likely to appreciate the initiative's simplicity and the potential for far-reaching impacts on community members' well-being.

12. Collect food for a food pantry

Many individuals struggle to access a basic human necessity - food. Your local pantry might not have enough to sustain the community as the demand increases. You can play a part by helping them collect as much food as possible.

This demonstrates your commitment to addressing local hunger and supporting those facing food insecurity. It also showcases organizational skills, leadership, and a tangible impact on a critical community need. 

College admissions officers value experiences that reflect a student's understanding of social issues and their dedication to making a meaningful difference in the lives of others.

13. Use social media skills to help local nonprofits

Putting your social media skills to good use can help local nonprofits reach a wider target audience. This also highlights your proficiency in modern communication and your desire to contribute to the success of community organizations. 

To college admissions, this will highlight your digital literacy, marketing savvy, and a strategic approach to increasing visibility and engagement. 

College admissions officers recognize the importance of leveraging technology for positive community impact, making this activity a relevant and valuable contribution.

person posting on Instagram

14. Provide free babysitting

In today’s world, many parents struggle to find affordable babysitting or daycare services. Let’s face it - caring for a child is not cheap. Some parents are forced to take on more than one job just to give their children basic necessities.

Offering free babysitting services shows your commitment to supporting families and addressing the practical needs of parents in the community. The act of providing a free service as valuable as free babysitting demonstrates responsibility, trustworthiness, and a willingness to assist in a meaningful way. 

College admissions officers appreciate experiences that showcase a student's understanding of community needs and their dedication to making a positive impact on the lives of others.

15. Hold a talent show event with a local nonprofit

Nonprofits across the globe are losing fundraising very quickly. The economy is forcing them to get creative in their outreach campaigns.

Organizing a talent show event in collaboration with a local nonprofit demonstrates your event-planning skills and commitment to providing entertainment for the community. This community service initiative reflects teamwork, leadership, and a focus on fostering a positive and inclusive environment. 

College admissions officers value experiences that showcase a student's ability to bring people together and contribute to the cultural and social vibrancy of the community.

16. Holiday Gift Wrapping Station

Gift wrapping during the holidays can be cumbersome for many individuals. They may have several gifts to wrap for their loved ones but not enough time.

Hosting a holiday gift-wrapping station demonstrates not only a festive spirit, but also your organizational skills, and commitment to community service during special occasions. This initiative reflects attention to detail, teamwork, and the ability to create a positive and enjoyable experience for community members. 

College admissions officers appreciate activities that not only contribute to community engagement but also add a touch of joy and celebration during festive seasons.

wrapped gift

17. Hold Art Therapy Sessions

Organizing art therapy sessions reflects your understanding of the therapeutic benefits of art and a commitment to supporting mental health in the community. This community service opportunity showcases empathy, creativity, and leadership in creating a safe space for artistic expression. 

College admissions officers value experiences that demonstrate a student's holistic approach to community well-being and their ability to address diverse needs.

18. Bake sale

Hosting a bake sale demonstrates your entrepreneurial spirit, baking skills, and commitment to fundraising for charitable causes. This community service initiative reflects organizational skills, teamwork, and a tangible impact on raising funds for community projects. 

College admissions officers appreciate experiences that showcase a student's ability to contribute not only through service but also through creative and effective fundraising efforts.

19. Join a charity run

Participating in a charity run highlights your commitment to physical fitness, community engagement, and fundraising for a specific cause. This community service opportunity reflects discipline, endurance, and a collective effort to make a positive impact on pressing issues. 

College admissions officers recognize the dedication required for participating in such events, showcasing a student's ability to balance personal interests with community service.

people running

20. Help raise funds for care packages

Assisting in raising funds for care packages shows your dedication to supporting individuals in need, especially during challenging times. This community service initiative reflects organizational skills, empathy, and a tangible impact on providing essential items for those facing hardships. 

College admissions officers appreciate experiences that showcase a student's understanding of community needs and their proactive approach to making a positive difference in the lives of others.

FAQs: Volunteering in High School

Here are our answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about volunteering in high school.

1. Why is it Important to Volunteer in High School?

Graduation is just one of the benefits of volunteering in high school! There are countless benefits to volunteering in high school, such as gaining skills, meeting new people, and helping your local community, among others. 

Volunteering is like watering many plants with one hose–there are a lot of benefits and skills to gain from volunteer work.

2. Does Volunteering Improve Grades?

While there is no clear-cut answer to whether or not volunteering improves grades, there are studies that suggest a positive relationship between volunteering and academic performance. Particularly, one study found a positive relationship between a student’s grade point average (GPA) with their volunteer involvement through medical school. 

Meanwhile, one study argued that service learning had no impact on a student’s grades. However, it did improve their understanding of course concepts, interpersonal skills, and a better understanding of civic responsibility.

3. Can Volunteering in High School Help You Get Into College?

Yes! A recent survey from Forbes found that 58% of college admission personnel agreed that community service experience allows a student to stand out in their application, which gives colleges an impression that the applicant has an active social life and is capable of contributing to the school’s mission.

However, an impressive volunteer history is not the only requirement that colleges look for in prospective students. Additionally, colleges look at an applicant’s grades alongside other traits like special talents, awards, personal achievements, and extracurricular activities.

4. What Volunteer Opportunities Look Best for College?

The opportunities that look great on a college admission solve a problem in your community, demonstrate leadership, and provide a positive impact. 

With this said, spending volunteer hours towards causes that you are most passionate about will add the most to your college application. 

5. Where to Find More Volunteer Opportunities in High School?

Volunteer opportunities in high school can be a rewarding way to make a positive impact on your community, gain valuable experience, and improve your college applications. Here are several places where you can find more volunteer opportunities:

  • School Guidance Counselor
  • Local Nonprofit Organizations
  • Religious Institutions
  • Community Centers
  • Libraries
  • Hospitals
  • Animal Shelters
  • School Clubs and Organizations
  • Online Platforms
  • Senior Centers
  • Youth Centers
  • And more!

Final Thoughts

Volunteering in high school is a graduation requirement for many secondary schools. While it may seem like a chore to some, there are many benefits of volunteering as a high school student. 

Volunteer experience can boost your college application and resume. They can also provide stellar learning experiences for high school students, especially those transitioning from the classroom into the real world. 

Finally, donating your time to a worthy cause and giving back to your community provides you with experiences and perspectives that will benefit you throughout your life.

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