Should community service be required for high school students?

United States
April 6, 2007 2:10pm CST
I went to a secular private school for high school and they required us to do 25 hours of community service a year in order to graduate. It was 25 for each year, with 15 of those hours per year in the first three years dedicated to specific individuals or charities. Freshman year it was for children. Sophomore year it was for the elderly. Junior year it was for the needy/homeless. My question: should it be required for all high school students? I’ve sat on both sides of the fence, but right now I don’t know which way to lean. I got some rewarding experiences from my time, but I don’t know if others would feel the same effect and it would go to waste. Are you for it or against it?
4 people like this
18 responses
• United States
6 Apr 07
I think it's an excellent idea! Teenagers are one group who really need a sobering look at reality, and helping others, especially those in tough situations like the needy and homeless. Most teens have this idea that they are going to get out of school and life will take right off for them and they'll skate through. They just don't see how difficult life can be, or where the choices they make may lead them. It may not be rewarding or reach EVERY teen, but few teens can work with kids, the elderly, the needy, or the homeless and not be affected in SOME way. I think it may make them better people in the long run, and teach them to be aware of others. Even if a teen managed to make it through without learning a thing or having any rewarding experiences, the community still benefits. Fabulous idea, great post! You've inspired me to start asking about this in our public schools.
• United States
6 Apr 07
Thank you for your kind words! I like the idea, but I think there has to be a mitigation involved that allows us to get the full benefit. I like that the communities will benefit regardless from this, like you said. There is much to be gained by those helpful hands that we'd gain. It would be sobering for a lot of teens. I know it was for me. It might even empower some people to take action who wouldn't have before. I would be worried for those who take a negative approach to this, but we'd still get the benefits for it. It's just a tough, two-sided issue.
3 people like this
@mitchb (256)
• United States
6 Apr 07
I'm torn on this issue. While there is always a need for more people to perform community service activities I don't know if forcing it upon students is the right way to go. I think some will jump at the opportunity but these are usually the same kids who would be doing it anyway. School already takes up a big chunk of these kids time and then you have student/athletes who are already investing a lot of their own time and then there are those who have to work to support themselves and/or their families. I think it should be something optional that schools can give extra commendations/awards for but not something required.
3 people like this
• United States
6 Apr 07
Great response! You pretty much sit on the same fence I do. I think that community service is important and necessary in today's world, but I don't know how it would be to "force" the issue with high schoolers. I do also agree with you that school takes up way too much time as it is. I played football in high school, and even when we weren't in season there was so much training and work involved. It wasn't too hard to get the service in for me, but I can see how it might have been harder for others. How about a class where community service can earn you elective credits towards graduation? Do you think that would work?
3 people like this
@mitchb (256)
• United States
6 Apr 07
That sounds like a great idea. That is kind of what I meant by the school offering some other type of reward without making it a requirement.
3 people like this
@JoyfulOne (6242)
• United States
6 Apr 07
I'm kind of split on my opinion too. On one hand, I see the points that other posters have made. On the other hand, I see kids growing up without a sense of community working together for the benefit of their community, and for others...without monetary gain, just for the joy of helping. Sure, lots of kids won't find any joy in it, and will probably grumble, but you have to admit that they will definitely learn something new that will help them change their opinion of what's worthy in life. Americans used to be more community minded than they are today, and it's a shame that it's pretty much fallen by the wayside. I think it would be beneficial for them to learn to give of themselves, and their time. My daughter carried a full load in school, plus worked, yet she still found time to do things in the community here and there...community service was a requirement for getting into the college she wanted to attend. See, while we all think it's 'too much' that extra bit doing community service will actually help them everywhere they go after they graduate: from college to their first employer...it shows them something good about them and gives them an extra edge in getting into competitive colleges and jobs. It shows that they're willing to go that extra step to make life better for others. Just my humble opinion here, lol...
• United States
6 Apr 07
Yes I think that would be a good idea. Kids need to know how to reach out and be helpful. That is where the real growth lies.
2 people like this
@whywiki (6070)
• Canada
6 Apr 07
Wow what an interesting idea. I have mixed views on the subject. I did community service in high school because I thought it was a valuable learning experience. I enjoyed my time spent with the seniors. I volunteered with the special needs class too and realized how lucky I was. We were forced into physical education (gym) and it wasn't my speed and kept my GPA down. I thought it was grossly unfair and that we students had rights and how dare they force us to do it. Now looking back I am glad they did. I'm not sure if they still do even. But it was a debate I saw both sides to. This reminds me of that, if a student doesn't get anything from the experience why make them do it? I could see it as a class that is optional to take or maybe extra credits. But I feel mandatory to graduate is harsh. Also if volunteering with people and you don't want to be there, you would be hurting their feelings. I know when told to do something I'm against I can be a little snotty.
• Philippines
7 Apr 07
im not against it. way back in highschool, we do that but only once a week for two hours. its a great feeling to help others but not everybody is on it.
• Philippines
7 Apr 07
i think, there is nothing wrong with community services.,. Its not bad to participate in such activities once in our high school life..
1 person likes this
• United States
7 Apr 07
I don't think that community service should be required for high school students. My reasoning is that Volunteering services separate the great ones from the pack. Those who do community service or things like that are the ones that get accepted into the better colleges or the better scholarships or things like that. If everyone did that same amount then community service wouldn't mean as much anymore.
@Polly1 (12649)
• United States
7 Apr 07
I think its a wonderful idea. It could be like a regular class. They could offer community service as a class and the students would recieve credits for attending. I think it would be a good learning experience, plus it would help someone in need.
@jlo228 (170)
• Philippines
7 Apr 07
yeah, it should be.. a first step for college, it's also a way serving a community even in a simple way.. It is also very enjoyable to do with others.
7 Apr 07
When I was going to school something like that wasnt needed. We still respected our elders. If I was made to do that in order to graduate, I would have left school. That should be voluntary for the kids that werent' unruly. The troublemakers should be made to go as it may teach them that their actions have consequences. Let them see how the other half live. To be around the needy and homeless may teach them to stay in school so that they can get a better job and to make something of themselves. Respect humanity.
@vmoore709 (1102)
• United States
7 Apr 07
I don't agree with forcing students to do community service. Those kids have enough on their plate as it is and shouldn't have to worry about one more thing. I wouldn't want my kids to have to deal with it.
@clover (104)
• Malaysia
7 Apr 07
I honestly feel that this kind of thing is a burden, I mean as a highschooler, even reading the books is burden. eventhough my heart is not at all for this kind of activities as I'll prefer to lay back and all, but I also believe that this is somehow beneficial, we might not see it as something beneficial directly from the eyes of individual who believes they have other more important works to do, but standing in the midlle without being tied to anything we can see it's a good activities. It instill values inside us if not in a quick time, slowly we'll learn something. It also give us a chance to communicate with the society by reaching and helping them... this is also an education, as education doesn't only mean the grades we get on paper etc... the skill of humanity also is very important. so, even if I'm about to be in the situation I know I'll somehow loathe it, but then also beliweve its necessary in building us to be 'people'
• United States
7 Apr 07
You know what? i am copletely against forcing community service on students. Sure, the community always needs volunteers, but forcing this work on students is NOT the way to go. Most of them have a bad attitude about this work and therefor will not do a good job with it. Save it for those who truly care and want to make a difference.
7 Apr 07
When I was finishing my schooling off here in teh UK in the late 1970s, we were given a choice of either Community Service or compulsory games. Now, I hated sport - in previous years I'd played rugby and accumulated a string of injuries that I suffer from even today - so Community Service was a great option for me. I took part in two projects; one was helping the elderley with errands, gardening, things like that. The other major project I did was helping build a children's playground. I enjoyed them both immensely and think that some of my 'public service' ethos definitely came from those times.
@Arkadus (899)
• Canada
7 Apr 07
No. It should not be mandatory, my phys ed class tried to 'require time'. Really all it's going to do is give you a handfull of people who really don't want to be there.
• United States
7 Apr 07
Yes i think community service should be required for all students. We have a very selfish society, it's all about me, me, me and there's only one way to change it and that's to start at a young age and teach people the value of helping others and how it effects the people you are helping and you.
@crickethear (1420)
• United States
7 Apr 07
ABSOLUTELY!!!! I think teenagers are too in to themselves then they should be. With all the high tech, computers, cell phones, ipods, etc, they are over indulged. I know there are a lot of great kids out there, but there are also a lot that are only into themselves. Even they aren't bad, but I think it's very healthy to learn and remember that everyone else on this planet is human and has needs also. People today seem to have lost focus of that. However, adults need to be taking part as well, and spend quality time, and not pass off a new IPOD because they feel guilty for not being able to spend quality time with their children. By doing community service, I believe that the kids will learn early to work together, and make accomplishments. This in turn will also make them feel good about themselves. Schools should encourage it, and have programs where students have to particpate in community service.