This feature is part of an occasional series aimed at helping students get ready for the upcoming school year.
Eric Hedinger is the assistant upper school director and high school English teacher at Providence Day School on Sardis Road.
Q. What should students think about and consider before volunteering?
Students tend to get involved in an organization when they don't really have the time to give. An hour a week is a lot of time for certain high school students. But it's all about commitment.
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A student who is inconsistent and involved in different projects just to check it off on her college application is not going to benefit the organization or themselves.
Students should consider how much time they are able and willing to give to a cause. They should be interested and passionate about what they are involved in and show a genuine interaction with the organization over time.
Q. Is there a right time to start volunteering in high school?
Start early and be involved by your freshman year if possible. Long-term involvement with an organization shows consistency. A student who starts volunteering during his senior year only shows colleges that it's a check-off on his application.
Higher level colleges look for students who have an early jump start on community service and stick with it.
Q. How can students get involved in volunteer work?
Religious organizations are a great way to get involved in community service.
Students should also consider large public organizations, like United Way, and other umbrella nonprofits, like Hands on Charlotte, Habitat for Humanity and the National Youth Leadership Council, which are designed to help communities. These organizations want students to reach out to them.
The Internet is a powerful tool to search for volunteer opportunities.
Q. How can parents encourage and support their children in their volunteer efforts?
Parents need to model the idea of philanthropy, the idea of giving time and service to those less fortunate so their children can appreciate the value of volunteering.