Should Community Service Be a Graduation Requirement?

Students+volunteering+at+a+grocery+distribution+for+YLHSs+National+Honor+Society.

Danielle Huizar (12)

Students volunteering at a grocery distribution for YLHS’s National Honor Society.

Suhani Bhanvadia, Editor-in-Chief

Volunteering at a library probably isn’t how most high school students want to spend their free time. As many schools have made community service hours a graduation requirement, school districts hope that students pick up a few more things other than a number on their transcript. But it seems like forcing students to volunteer defeats the purpose of being genuine and wanting to help the community. Should completing volunteer work still be considered volunteering even though it’s required?

According to Amber Han (12), “community service gives students the opportunity to be exposed to communities that need help.” Some students coming from well-off communities may have never actually seen others struggle. Without requiring them to look for opportunities, they may never look for them on their own. By exposing them to the realities of other people’s lives, students are more likely to be open minded and considerate of others’ conditions.

Community service gives students the opportunity to be exposed to communities that need help.”

— Amber Han (12)

Community service requirements also ensure that more students take part in the community. While some students perceive volunteer work as an extracurricular to add on their resume or college applications, students with post-high school goals other than college may never look into serving their community without it being a requirement.

Students can also use volunteering as an opportunity to use their knowledge from school. For students taking environmental classes, community service events like beach cleanups allow them to have hands-on experience with what they learn in school. Not only can they use their knowledge while volunteering, but they can also explore career paths they may have an interest in. Personally, I volunteer at a hospital so that I can get exposure to the medical field before completely committing to medicine.

Apart from gaining exposure to different communities and using their knowledge, volunteers can gain communication and leadership skills. Rebecca Kam (12) adds that “through volunteering, I had the opportunity to work with my peers and take leadership”. Skills like these can even pave the way for students to get part time jobs and be a part of the workforce. If volunteers enjoy the work they are doing and the organization wants workers with their skill set, they may be offered a job.

Schools have an obligation to both educate students and ensure they will be good citizens after graduation. While completing volunteer hours as a requirement seems ingenuine, the benefits that they provide students make community service rewarding for both volunteers and their community.