The intent of requiring service hours for clubs and college admissions is inherently positive. What better way to motivate students to engage in their community than asking for an easily-measured amount of effort?
However, the convenience of requiring volunteer hours could potentially be harmful to students and the community.
We have lives!
Students are involved in meaningful activities other than those that can be submitted for volunteer hours.
Restrictions within every service-oriented club limit what counts as volunteer hours. For example, a parent cannot sign off on service hours. Jobs also do not count because they are paid positions.
In addition to jobs and obligations, there are countless other activities within the community that do not gain students service hour credit.
Katie Yu, a National Honors Society officer and member, thinks that donating blood should receive recognition within the club. “You are helping the community face shortages of blood through giving, and it is a simple action that can save many lives but people often look past it,” Yu said.
Stress leads to messiness
Students — including myself — scrambled during the lockdown portion of the COVID-19 pandemic to find service opportunities to satisfy requirements. Most places have now opened up again, but it remains difficult for students to find consistent, meaningful ways to contribute to the community.
Time doesn’t equal value
Encouraging students to submit high numbers of service hours reinforces a “quantity over quality” mindset. Think about the statement “I had 100 service hours this year.” Instead the phrase should be “Here’s how I contributed to my community this year.” Which sounds more impactful to you?
On the other hand, clubs do need a way to interpret the ways students are getting involved. Yu believes that service hours are a necessary part of the NHS because students need qualifications in order for them to maintain membership. However, “It becomes difficult when requiring hours. When students feel forced to complete service hours it defeats the purpose of volunteering for a good cause,” Yu said.
What can we do instead?
Giving clubs a well-rounded picture of what student’s obligations and passions would benefit Leesville’s students and community.
“We could have projects where each student chooses something they are passionate about,. This way they could focus their attention and volunteering on that specific topic,” said Yu. This is a possible alternative to the system NHS currently uses, which is similar to most other service clubs and honor societies. Alternatives to Yu’s idea include requiring essay reflections on service club members are involved in, and widening guidelines to include more activities.
Hi! My name is Stella Davis and I am a staff writer for The Mycenaean. I play on the varsity softball team at Leesville, and I coach middle school basketball.