Community Service hours should be mandatory

Mae Mastin, Contributing Writer

Graduate by walking dogs at animal shelters, spending time with the elderly in nursing homes, or feeding the hungry at food pantries? When it comes to the topic of high school students performing community service, most of us will readily agree that all students should contribute to their community. Where this agreement ends, however, is on the question of whether or not community service hours should be required to graduate high school. Whereas some are convinced that community service should be mandatory, others maintain that it should be voluntary. In my opinion, community service should be mandatory for high school students. It gives them an incentive to get involved and help others in their community, teaches valuable skills, and increases student success in high school and beyond.

Required community service helps students reach out to the people and organizations in their communities. A study by The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) demonstrates that students want to volunteer for the good of others. The study states, “Most young people who volunteered for other types of organizations wanted to help other people.” The claim that students who are forced into doing community service will dislike doing it from the start rests upon the questionable assumption that students don’t want to volunteer in the first place. Students do want to volunteer, and they want to do it for the good of others in their communities.

Students can learn valuable skills while volunteering, making school-required community service an important extension of their classroom education. As a College Board article puts it, “[Y]ou can experience the real world through hands-on work.” Basically, the College Board is saying that students can gain experience and learn new skills while volunteering. The view that high school students required to perform community service will have less time for schoolwork is misled because volunteer work is a crucial part of their education and should be considered an extension of the learning process.

Students who perform community service, but especially school required community service, are linked to having bright academic futures after high school. According to a CIRCLE study, “Students who participated in school required community service were 22 percentage points more likely to graduate from college than those that did not and were more likely to have improved their Reading, Math, Science, and History scores.” The view that high school students are too busy to volunteer in their communities is mistaken because volunteer work is a very important component in the future success of students, as well as schoolwork, significantly increasing their chances of future academic success.

When students are prompted to fulfill small acts of kindness, they can truly change the world around them. In conclusion, then, as suggested earlier, high school students should be required to perform community service as it gives them opportunities to get involved in their communities, boosts them academically, and teaches them new skills while allowing them to make their communities and the world a better place.