As you get closer to high school graduation, you may already be imagining what life will be like in college. Aside from the parties and socializing, you’ll imagine your classes and workload — possibly even your life beyond school. The bridge that will lead you to your career is education, and the choice of the right major is an imperative step in realizing that goal.
Much like any important decision, you can’t make a wise choice based on a single factor. A variety of different components all shape a good decision, and when it comes to choosing a major, doing some volunteer work can help you learn which education path is correct.
Choosing your focus: The influence and experience of volunteering
Volunteering is a way of being able to help a community in need and make a difference in people’s lives. Not every student applying for college chooses to get involved, so being a volunteer distinguishes you as someone committed to having a positive impact on the lives of others. Here we’ll look at some specific examples of how volunteering can help narrow down your major and get you ready for college:
Skills development: You can easily gain some benefits from volunteer work, ranging from acquiring specific skills to developing a sense of accomplishment. Colleges are increasingly looking favorably on volunteer experience, because it shows that the applicant cares about more than just herself. It can also be an eye-opening endeavor that gives you greater awareness of other communities. A GLA volunteer abroad program for high school students is not only an exciting way to see some beautiful parts of the world, such as Africa, Southeast Asia or the Caribbean, but it can help you gain leadership skills and aptitudes you never considered.
Job shadowing: Through volunteering, you can get an idea of what a particular job is really like and what you should do to prepare for a career in that field. You can get a good feel for what it will entail and a clearer understanding of how well you’d fit. It’s essentially a form of job shadowing that can give you some great hands-on experience.
Rethinking that original idea: Volunteering can also serve as a great way of understanding what you don’t want to do. By getting up close to a job, you can get an idea of what you aren’t going to enjoy. If you volunteer as a teacher, you may learn which subjects you gravitate towards or the ages of the students you’d like to teach. If all along you planned to be a social worker or a doctor, volunteering can help you learn if that original idea is a good fit after all.
A lesson in problem solving: You won’t find a class in your course catalog on problem solving, but volunteering will help fill that gap. This skill will help you both as a student and as a person in general. Volunteering is an excellent way to develop some problem solving skills, because it forces you to think on your feet, interact with people in spontaneous ways, make priorities and communicate with people from other cultures.
Deciding on a college major is a huge choice that isn’t purely an academic decision. Personal values, interests, aptitudes and ambition all play a part in your decision on a practical course of study. Volunteering can play a part in this decision, taking you out of your comfort zone, increasing your awareness and helping you narrow down your choice of academic specialty.
Additionally, it’s important to think about a major as not just being a stepping stone to a career, but one that will inform your development as a person; volunteering can have the same impact. When you apply to college, you can be proud of the volunteering work that you’ve done and know that you’ve given yourself an effective means of choosing your field of study for your college career.