[ti:College Success: Helping Others to Help Yourself]
[00:00.01]In some ways, higher education is a self-serving experience.
[00:05.94]People often seek a college education because they want to improve their lives.
[00:12.96]Or, they want to increase their chances at gaining well-paying, interesting and meaningful employment.
[00:21.51]Even if a person wants to find cures for major diseases or solve homelessness,
[00:29.03]they must spend years gaining knowledge and training for themselves before they can help others.
[00:36.67]A person's college years are usually very busy.
[00:41.20]It may not seem like they have the time or the freedom to serve anyone but themselves.
[00:47.91]But Connie Snyder Mick says they actually do.
[00:52.25]Mick is the academic director of the Center for Social Concerns
[00:57.43]at the University of Notre Dame in the state of Indiana.
[01:02.21]Centers like hers exist at many colleges and universities in the United States.
[01:09.32]Mick says the centers help students seeking an experience that may not be directly
[01:16.03]related to a student's academic progress, but that is still important: volunteering.
[01:23.15]Volunteering is not uncommon in higher education.
[01:27.26]Many campus groups organize volunteer events or fundraising efforts for different causes.
[01:35.55]Officials in charge of student housing often organize such events to help build a sense of community.
[01:43.61]Involvement in these kinds of activities is good for students, Mick told VOA.
[01:50.37]For example, the busy nature of college life can create a lot of stress for students.
[01:57.68]Doing something completely unrelated to a student's studies
[02:02.56]or other work can help calm them by putting their mind on other things.
[02:07.39]For a deeper more meaningful addition to their college experience,
[02:12.29]Mick urges students to visit centers like the one she heads.
[02:17.42]She says these centers exist to create volunteer opportunities that are more complex
[02:25.31]and meaningful than just a day spent cleaning a local park, for example.
[02:31.30]College students often spend little time getting to know the local community just outside of their campus, Mick notes.
[02:40.22]Higher education is all about introducing students to new ideas, she says.
[02:46.19]And these communities may be full of cultures and people that are very different from what the students already know.
[02:55.45]Campus volunteering offices often partner with local organizers that serve the people of the nearby community.
[03:04.25]These partnerships help make sure the volunteer efforts are meeting the real needs of that community.
[03:12.43]Even for students with little interest in finding a connection with the local community,
[03:18.60]there is still value in what volunteer centers have to offer, Mick says.
[03:24.59]She notes some opportunities can push students to use what they are learning in the classroom out in the real world.
[03:34.16]And having that kind of experience can make a student appealing to employers in the years to come.
[03:41.85]"Imagine teaching computer science at a center for ... people with disabilities," Mick said.
[03:48.72]"To think about how to apply, more directly, what you're studying in the classroom in ways
[03:55.57]that sort of push you to think about it differently can really be a creative ... space."
[04:02.14]Volunteering does not necessarily mean finding extra time in the evenings or weekends, she says.
[04:10.06]More and more schools are asking professors to design courses that include volunteer work.
[04:18.37]"The research shows that when a student goes and has an experience,
[04:23.78]the learning happens in the reflection, and reflection happens in coursework," Mick said.
[04:31.10]"So ...you're getting that academic credit, but you're also having an ... experience that's thoughtful,
[04:38.36]that gives you times to ... do research and to think deeply about that ...
[04:44.26]in a way that's connected to your academic interests."
[04:47.95]Campus volunteer centers can help students identify classes that offer these kinds of experiences.
[04:55.80]The centers also can let students know if their school
[05:01.14]offers any volunteering-based trips during breaks between study terms.
[05:06.90]Mick says such trips can be a meaningful way to spend free time and explore other places.
[05:15.77]I'm Pete Musto.