Required Volunteering

Volunteering: (v.) Freely offer to do something. (Merriam-Webster Dictionary) A contradiction forced for years now, a large number high school students nationwide have been mandated to volunteer in order to graduate and move onto college. Ranging from 40 to over 300 hours, high schools nationwide have began requiring a specific minimum of labor done by students in order for them to be able to receive their diploma.

Aside from the challenges already having to be faced during the fast paced four year duration at school, teenagers now have to work without pay. Rather than bombard the kids even more stress than usual, high schools should encourage volunteering instead of requiring them to participate and having consequences for not doing it. If they were to be rewarded somehow for their generous actions, students would still help their community. This would provide more positive results for the future by giving students freedom to make their own choices and still fulfilling the labor requirements needed to keep society running smoothly. As a proud student in high school, I have several peers that are enlisted in the National Honor Society.

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The NHS only accepts teens with an average of or above 95. To achieve such high scores, it’s obvious that said students had to work hard by studying and preparing daily. Once they are in the organization, they are required to complete from 60-250 hours of volunteer work throughout their duration of being a high school student, depending on his or her age and rules. This means that in addition to their excruciating work done to achieve such scores, the student will have to waste valuable time that they can use to keep those grades up, working with no compensation. Colleges would rather see someone have outstanding scores than see that they completed a required amount of volunteer work. Because if it’s required, it shows that the student probably wouldn’t have done it if it wasn’t.

This defeats the purpose of volunteering because it puts the same kids who didn’t want to do the work into the same group of their peers who actually put effort into what they did. Because of this, seeing that a child helped out somewhere isn’t as highly regarded as it would be, not mandated. This makes no sense to the helpless teens who have to take time out of their busy schedules, bombarded with daily activities already having to be done. There have been incidents of students only starting clubs for volunteering just to impress colleges, like two students of Washington-Lee High School who began an organization which started off “as a joke” (Tara Bahrampour). This expresses exactly how the act is looked at by teens, as something only meant to look good. This completely contradicts anyone who claims that the unpaid work brings out the good in people.

Volunteer work is the simplest and basic of labor there is, providing barely any experience that would benefit someone in the future. Anybody can get the work done, so it makes no sense that the most educated ones are stuck doing it. Standing up, scooping soup out of a huge bowl would not be beneficial on anyone’s resume unless they’re applying for a fast food joint, a place where most honor students wouldn’t end up anyway. Young adults have more responsibilities as every day passes, as they mature and step into the real world. They need to focus on learning to do the things that will matter to them for the rest of their lives correctly instead of having to do simple work that they’ll probably forget about a few months from now. Students nationwide should not have to go through unnecessary obstacles in addition to their already overworked lives.

According to source 5, there are two studies that suggest that community service requirements can harm students’ intentions on volunteering in the future (Stukas, Snyder, and Clary). This completely conflicts with the main reason why they are being asked to help. This can give many people a negative outlook on volunteering, putting it in the same dreadful category as schoolwork or chores. In source 6, the whole aspect of volunteering is a joke and the cartoon advertises it in a satirical way, claiming all of these amazing benefits it has. The whole idea of having to work for free just can’t go by without complaints in this society, therefore it should not be mandated.

Even though there have been stories of positive outcomes from volunteering, not all can be compared to high school students. According to the Detroit News, a 13-year-old found it to be his passion to volunteer at a retirement home. Sure, he could’ve enjoyed it greatly but he wasn’t pushed into doing it. Also, the actions done by active students can definitely benefit the community in which they live in. To make volunteering an enjoyable thing, people need to spread positivity about it. This can affect many people for the good, but it just doesn’t seem negotiable for students now.

Overall, the term “mandated volunteering” is so contradicting that it can’t even be taken seriously. As a free country, it’s downright idiotic to make someone do something. Especially when tied to education and being able to determine how far the child will go in life. If somebody wants to help out in their community, they will be driven to do it by free will and personal goodness of the heart, a trait that clearly many people carry seeing the great outcomes. If an organization is really desperate for help, then they should offer pay.

Nobody should have to take the time out of their lives to do work that they won’t benefit from.