10 Reasons Why You Should Volunteer Abroad in College
People who volunteer abroad normally do so with a deep desire to change the world for the better.
Although this is admirable, it is by no means the only reason why a college bound student or students already in college should volunteer abroad. Apart from serving, most students that do volunteer work abroad know that improving their resume for a college application is a big factor. Students heading to college know that experience gained as a volunteer, be it local or international, is valuable to boost their resume.
Would be volunteers also often have a sense of adventure, and they’re always looking for a new, interesting experience that will make their application stand out.
In this article, we’ll discuss 10 reasons why students should be volunteering abroad while they’re in college.
1. Improve your resume
As we’ve already mentioned, although teens who volunteer for charity work abroad often have a strong desire to make the world a better place, building up their resume for college is part of the reason why they do so.
Volunteering abroad is seen as a good addition to an applicant’s profile. It’s an impressive experience, as you’ll have traveled far and worked hard to support a cause you’re passionate about.
It is ironic that whether or not a specific program really helps its stakeholders in the long run is not really that important for your resume. Want counts is you’ve shown a willingness and dedication to embark on a big project, and have shown an interest in communities and people outside your hometown.
2. Push yourself outside of your comfort zone
Volunteering abroad while in college will definitely take you out of your comfort zone, and that will promote unbelievable personal growth.
When volunteers were asked what impact volunteering abroad has had on them, 44% strongly agreed that their career aspirations had changed for the better, 94% felt that the experience had made them stronger, while 83% said their sense of perspective had changed.
3. Gain hands-on experience
A comprehensive education can’t be obtained simply by staying in the classroom. You need to gain hands-on experience outside those four walls.
By volunteering abroad, you will be stimulated to learn more about different ways of thinking, languages and cultures, and find different perspectives, all of which will change your own ambitions, mindset and whole life.
4. Gain course credit
Study abroad programs, whether as a gap year, in college, or in high school, can be a good option for learning while earning academic credits. A gap year could also be used to undertake long term volunteer projects that will allow you to better get to know a specific place.
5. Use the experience as the foundation for your thesis or further study
As a student, it’s likely you’ll be interested in traveling and finding new experiences outside the well-known space of your hometown. Volunteering is also a useful way to spend your time as it will allow you to positively impact the community and the world, and the colleges you apply to eventually will be happy to see it on your resume.
Volunteering abroad in an organized program specifically designed for students could be an ideal combination of useful work and enjoyable experiences. Programs like these involve the excitement of international travel and sound a lot more interesting than ordinary volunteer positions like working in a soup kitchen. They also promise you something relatively unusual and cool to include in college applications.
Volunteering abroad while in college can however also serve a totally different purpose. If you are planning on doing independent study or have to do a postgraduate thesis, volunteering abroad can form the very foundation of these future endeavors.
Approaching opportunities in this context will require that you do proper research first and know beforehand what your independent study or thesis will be about. Once you know this, you need to find the volunteering opportunity abroad that will actually support your field of study in order for it to be useful.
6. Use the program as an internship
If you want to advance in your career and feel that volunteering may not be quite right for you, you may want to rather enroll in an internship. There are organization like BLUE Missions that provide affordable and flexible internship opportunities for skill development, with learning objectives that are outlined clearly.
Projects that support NGOs are a good fit for students wanting to combine volunteer work abroad with an internship, because having worked for an NGO looks great on an academic resume and transcript, and potential employers will be impressed.
You will be able to travel all over the world helping NGOs needing assistance, and IVHQ has programs in New Zealand, Italy and Cambodia, among many other destinations.
Students volunteering for an NGO project is a great opportunity to apply the knowledge acquired through your studies and your experience to support and help NGOs to further establish their community reach and goals. Tasks vary and will depend on the distinctive skills you are able to provide. These include things like IT, teaching English, proposal writing, research, administration, etc.
7. Work abroad to obtain community service hours needed for a membership or scholarship
As high school volunteer abroad programs are often short, it will limit what you can get out of them. You are not likely to become very familiar with the local history, geography and culture on short trips together with other Americans. You also won’t have the time or the full immersion needed to improve your language skills considerably, and your age may limit the type of work experience you can gain.
Having said that, even though the volunteer abroad program you participate in may be short, it is ideal to build up community service hours that you require for membership of a specific institution, or for a scholarship.
8. Learn about a culture on a deeper level
There are customized break programs for volunteering abroad available in Romania, Peru, Costa Rica and Guatemala. These programs have been designed to incorporate a variety of tourism, cultural immersion and volunteering activities and will ensure you make a positive contribution in a short period.
Whether you want to enroll individually or with a friend, you’ll be with other Americans on one of several tours for small groups, and will have the opportunity to learn about the culture of the country you’re visiting on a deeper level.
9. Make new friends around the world
As college students arrive to the volunteer program, they will quickly forge bonds with volunteers from other countries as they all roll up their sleeves together and get going on the work required for the project.
You will be able to travel in your free time and share lots of laughter with your newfound friends from across the globe. Many college students travel independently while volunteering, and this takes them out of their comfort zones and helps them grow their confidence.
Although you’re traveling by yourself, you will actually never be alone, and some fellow volunteers may actually become your friends for life.
10. Have fun!
Summer service trips designed specifically for college students are a great option to do good and have fun at the same time! Summer is a full 93 days long. That translates to an awesome 2232 hours, which is a lot of time in which you can make a difference.
When we’re growing up, we gradually develop an increased awareness of the world that exists outside of ourselves, but also the problems that the globe faces. Students are in the middle of a period of amazing personal growth, and your urges to improve the world should be encouraged and celebrated.
Not every possible solution to a problem in society is necessarily a great idea, nor are there any guarantees that it will solve the problem ethically, or be effective, irrespective of how good the intentions behind it are. As you pursue your dream and get involved, always remember to first critically and thoughtfully evaluate the projects and the organizations you volunteer for.