Should I Do Community Service Even Though It’s Not Required?

Calista Freeland, Writer/Editor

As you may know, Righetti does not require community service hours for students to graduate, unlike other high schools. While you may not be motivated to participate in volunteer opportunities if it is not needed to graduate, it can significantly impact your college experience. Here are some reasons (beyond giving back to the community/helping others) that you should participate in community service.

Getting into colleges

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While many colleges do not require community service (some do) it can give you a huge advantage in the application process. For example, UC Schools do not require community service, but they specifically mention that “experiences that demonstrate unusual promise for leadership, such as significant community service, may be considered by the campuses in the comprehensive review of a student’s application.” Having significant community service hours can be a key difference between you and another student of the same GPA and major. While it’s not the only deciding factor for being accepted, it gives colleges another reason to consider you. In a survey of 264 college admissions officers, according to, “53% said that community service was a tie-breaker between equally qualified students.” A 2016 report by Harvard’s Graduate School of Education gave a few recommendations for students in the application process

According to, these are the main points of the report:

  • Students should engage in authentically chosen community service. This means that the volunteer opportunities you choose should emerge from your interests and passions.
  • Ideally, students should spend at least a year on sustained service or community engagement. Community engagement refers to working in groups on community problems, like beautifying a local park or participating in an environmental initiative. The report states that individual service is also valuable, but community engagement develops problem-solving skills, group awareness, and an understanding of and investment in the common good. This also means consistency and commitment are important. Working on one project over a long period of time is better than working on twelve different projects to “collect” hours.
  • Students should also work on community service projects that deepen their understanding of diversity. The report specifies that this should not be a patronizing act of “doing for” students from different backgrounds. Instead, students should “do with,” collaborating with diverse groups on school and community issues.
  • The report explains that there is no need to “game” community service by seeking high-profile or exotic service opportunities in faraway places. The emotional and ethical awareness and skills generated by community service experiences are far more important.

To read the full report, you can visit this link.

Applying For Scholarships

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Many scholarships ask you about how much community service you have participated in. For example, one of the best local scholarships is the Santa Barbara Scholarship Foundation. When applying for this scholarship using the program Kaleidoscope, it asks you to put down all of the community service/volunteer hours you have accumulated over your high school years. This is extremely important because it demonstrates your interests, personality, compassion for others, and knowledge of your community. If you have significant community service hours, then the scholarship committee/directors will be more inclined to put you in the running for receiving scholarships. According to the Santa Barbara Scholarship Foundation website, the scholarship may require “a list of your community service, employment, and activities; family financial statement; and a college enrollment plan,” depending on your eligibility.

According to, “Many college applications and scholarships have a minimum number of community service hours that their applicants must complete in order to be eligible.”

The website,, has complied an entire list of scholarships that are based on the community service hours, which you can find here. Depending on the scholarship, you can receive up to $50,000, and the amount of money you receive is often not just based on your economic need and college plans, but also the amount of hours you have put into giving back to your community.

A Few Things to Remember

Career & Counseling Center / ∴ Volunteer Opportunities

Lastly, one important thing to remember is that volunteering and community service can be acquired in a number of different ways. Not only can you volunteer to help your community, but there are also online opportunities as well. Check out this previous article from, written during our online school period, to see different ways to volunteer online. Additionally, you should volunteer for groups that you have a genuine interest in so that your experience can be an indicator of your interests and goals for colleges and scholarships. Here are a list of unique volunteer opportunities, to help you come up with ideas of how you can help. can also aid in finding new ways to volunteer and gain community service hours

You can also join a club (which looks great on college applications, scholarship applications, and other resumes). Righetti has a variety of community service clubs which you can explore here and through their various accounts on Instagram (since is not completely up-to-date). The Righetti Grapevine, posted daily through this link, can also provide information about new clubs and opportunities.