Why College Graduates Should Consider Volunteering

Today’s guest post is by Lauren Bailey.

It’s graduation season. And as many are rejoicing being free from the restraints of school, others who cannot find immediate employment are nervously wondering what to do with the rest of their lives. Most importantly, many in the jobless bunch are concerned with paying back their massive student loans. But while these issues and concerns are enough to make any recent graduate wish that they could stall earning their diploma just to get a little bit more time to figure everything out, ideally volunteering might just solve most of their problems. To learn how, continue reading below.

Real World Work Experience

While the job economy is slightly improving, the truth of the matter is that a good chunk of recent graduates will struggle (are struggling) to find employment and thus will not be able to immediately put their degree to good use.  If you fall into this category, instead of just waiting around until you get a lucky break, you should definitely consider becoming a volunteer. Not only will you be helping others and give back to the community, but you will also be productive—this act alone is what can help prevent employers from passing up on your resume entirely. This is because employers don’t like to hire people who aren’t constantly active. If they see that in 6 months since graduation you did absolutely nothing with your time except apply to different places, they will most likely find you unfit to work there.  During the actual interview, you can then proceed to explain how the skills you learned as a volunteer has molded you into the ideal candidate for the position—you work well with others, have strong time management skills, etc.

Graduate School Readiness

The same concept can be applied to those who are considering graduate school.  Most graduate degree programs are more prone to accepting applicants who stay active between the periods of earning their undergraduate degree and applying for an advanced degree. Other programs, on the other hand, actually require that applicants obtain a certain amount of hands-on experience for acceptance. For example, if you want to get into a graduate social work program, you need to have a certain amount of work-related experience.  One of the easiest ways to fulfill this requirement is to work as a volunteer with a non-profit organization that specializes with fighting homelessness, human rights or child welfare for example.  Or, if you’d like to earn an advanced degree in education, you could always volunteer to teach English to children in a foreign country, for example.

Loan Forgiveness Programs

Lastly, under the 2007 College Cost Reduction and Access Act, those who volunteer for the Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, the National Civilian Corps or the Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) can qualify to earn stipends and education awards that can be applied to student debt. Note that conditions and award amounts vary. For example, AmeriCorps volunteers are required to serve for 12 months in order to receive a $7,400 stipend and up to a $4,725 loan reimbursement; Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) must provide 1,700 hours of service to receive $4,725 that can be applied to student debt. Smaller, private organizations may also offer loan forgiveness programs, so make sure to ask.

This guest post is contributed by Lauren Bailey, who regularly writes for BestCollegesOnline.com. She welcomes your comments at her email: blauren99 @gmail.com. 


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