College Information Guide
Why college students should get
engaged in their community
Marshall Welch, Ph.D.
As summer ends and a new academic year approaches, many families and students eagerly anticipate the beginning of the college experience.
Going to college is often the culmination of a lifelong dream for families who have made significant effort and sacrifice. Higher education is seen as an important step toward a career and a life of greater opportunity. Today's college students are tomorrow's future leaders. Higher education is an opportunity to explore bold new ideas and ways of being.
But college is more than just taking notes in a lecture or completing coursework in an academic major to earn a diploma with the hope of a career to follow. Today the college experience goes beyond the four walls of the classroom to give students opportunities to learn in the community by providing valuable service. These opportunities range from volunteer direct service to applying new knowledge and skills from courses to make a difference in the community.
Here are the Ten Reasons Why College Students should get engaged in their community:
1. Service provides value-added skill sets that employers and graduate schools look for.
2. Service provides an opportunity to learn more about who you are and how you are by finding your role and place in the world.
3. Service is a chance to apply newly acquired skills from the classroom that not only make learning more accessible, it makes a difference in the world.
4. Service can take all kinds of forms ranging from direct assistance to research to social entrepreneurialism.
5. Service can help you figure out what major and career is best for you.
6. Service is a win-win situation by giving and receiving from those you serve.
7. Service is a way to make new friends.
8. Service exposes you to new places and new situations.
9. Service can provide leadership opportunities.
10. Service can empower others.
Nearly every institution of higher education — ranging from community colleges to liberal arts colleges to faith-based schools to large public research universities — has a campus center that works with faculty to create service-learning courses. Similarly, many of these same centers provide and coordinate opportunities for extracurricular service projects outside the classroom. Each campus in the state approaches this type of teaching and learning differently but the ultimate goal is the same — to make a difference while getting a college education.
Saint Mary's College of California integrates the "head, heart and hands" through service and service-learning. In this way, students' intellectual development is enhanced through critical reflection of what they are learning as they serve.
(Marshall Welch, Ph.D., is the director of the Catholic Institute of Lasallian Social Action at Saint Mary's College of California in Moraga.)
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