Maryland is the only state that requires students to perform community service to graduate high school. While many states allow students to perform community service in exchange for credits toward graduation or even a special endorsement on their diploma, as of 2018, only one state made it a requirement. Every state should mandate students to complete community service to improve or help their community in some way.
Though voluntary service has grown immensely in the past years, most students are still not getting the experiences a well-rounded individual should have. According to a childtrends.com study, “Adolescents who are involved in community service or who volunteer in political activities are more likely as adults to have a strong work ethic, to volunteer, and to vote.” The website also said that, “Volunteering is also associated with the development of greater respect for others, leadership skills, and an understanding of citizenship that can carry over into adulthood.”
It’s no secret that volunteering opens up avenues for adolescents and even children, to learn about the world beyond their own. It gives them an opportunity to interact with people, whether it be the ones they’re serving or other volunteers, and feel a parallel between themselves and the people they meet. With service, adolescents have the opportunity to converse with people who may be outside of their socioeconomic class or usual social groups and consider how they can help them.
They think about what their role is in their community, whether it’s their town, school, church or state, and how they can continue to improve that role. They build goals that are not just their own academic or personal success, but goals that focus on how they improve the lives of others.
Many will cite time and stress as reasons not to require students to do service. It would be difficult to prove that students have absolutely no time to perform community service. Many people see community service as a major task since many private schools and scholarships require outlandish amounts of service hours, but if service were required, it should only be 10 to 15 hours per semester. This would be more than enough to teach adolescents the importance of serving their community without impacting their grades, social life or other requirements.
I’ve been involved in community service my whole life and it has only led to great things for me. When I reached high school, I had several hours of required service for honor societies and my private school education, but they weren’t a hindrance or an extraneous, dreaded task. I enjoyed, and still enjoy, using my talents to serve others who aren’t as fortunate as me, and have learned a lot about myself and the world from it.
Alyssa Schirm is a sophomore visual and sound media and journalism major from Kearney, N.J. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org