Extra curricular and service activities are an essential component of your high school student’s education for several reasons. First, colleges are not only looking at grades, ACT and SAT scores, but also the types of activities your student has participated in throughout high school. Second, for a student who is not going to college this is a great opportunity for them to participate in a variety of activities that could help them with a career choice. But, what I feel is the most important thing about these activities is, it helps teens to see beyond themselves and serve others. Here are some tips and ideas to consider:
Be purposeful in the types of activities that your student chooses to do. Look for places and programs that would benefit them as a perspective applicant for a college or a career choice. For instance, if you have a student who is interested in being a vet tech, find an animal shelter or a veterinary clinic at which to volunteer. One of the families that I do narratives for has a daughter who volunteers at a veterinary clinic, helps the vet by taking care of the animals, and has been invited to attend surgeries. The thing I find most interesting is she is only going to be a 6th grader! I can only imagine what she will be doing when she is a senior in high school.
Select a variety of activities if possible. I was sometimes able to incorporate my sons’ extra curricular activities as part of our homeschooling. For instance, we were able to volunteer to be MOPS childcare workers one school year, we sorted clothes for a battered children’s shelter, served the poor, helped with church programs and attended volunteer training and seminars. Some of these activities required us to rearrange our homeschool schedule, but it was done easily and I am glad we had an opportunity to serve. You don’t have to go through an organization. You can visit nursing homes, help with the cleanup of your neighborhood,the possibilities are only limited to what you can imagine. I counted some of these activities toward criteria I had established for a careers class. When Malcolm was a senior we designed an elective class that incorporated writing, photography, friends, and coffee shops. He and three of his friends met weekly to critique various coffee shops throughout the city. They interviewed owners and staff, took pictures, drank lots of coffee, and posted their reviews on a blog they created.
Tailor activities to suit your student’s interests. What is it that your teen is interested in or possibly considering as a career choice for college or life? Is there a way to volunteer or get paid to help further this interest? Ian was interested in radio so he volunteered one spring at one of our local radio stations. Malcolm was interested in opening a coffee shop and worked with a local owner for six weeks learning about different roasting techniques, how to make various coffe drinks, and talking to him about the business side of the coffee shop.
Work! I know this is obvious, but admissions counselors look to see if a student has been able to work while also attending school. One of my sons worked at a restaurant that says, “My pleasure” and several of the counselors who spoke with him commented about his employment there in a positive manner. Working also helps our children with time management, responsibility, working with others, and possible recommendations for college applications or full time employment. 🙂 It can also confirm whether to pursue the college major that is being contemplated and help eliminate uncertainty.
Start a business. Does your entrepreneur have an idea that they would like to try? In this day and age it is a lot easier to connect people to your business through the internet. I have a friend who is a CPA and has some great tips and resources on helping teens start a business.
Possible volunteer opportunities that are limited only to what I could think of at the present time.
Church Childcare, puppet ministry, youth group, missions trips, audiovisual team, summer bible school programs,etc. (Find a need- fill it!)
Health care industry Candy stripers, visiting people in the hospital, get on the schedule for meals to the Ronald McDonald House, visit nursing homes
Social Work After school tutoring, serve food at homeless shelters, group homes, food pantries, organize a day to help neighbors (yard work, garage sale. a get together with activities for the children, etc.)
Run/Walks There are a variety of walks that you can do throughout the year. You can either participate or be a volunteer at the event. This is a great way for the whole family to be involved. I like to give, but I have also enjoy participating in the events. I just did a 5k Hunger Walk here in Cincinnati and plan on doing a 10k walk that raises money for the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota to give school backpacks to children living there.
Volunteer Opportunities Find an area that interests your scholar and brainstorm together about possibilities. Is there a place that doesn’t currently have a volunteer program? Maybe you can create a volunteer position! Why not contact the places that you are interested in with a proposal for volunteering? I always have told my kids that it doesn’t hurt to ask. Still need some ideas? Click here to find a list of volunteer positions in your area.