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Five Colleges Committed to Service

All colleges contribute to their community in someway. Whether it’s reaching out to the local youth through tutoring or simply providing job opportunities, a college or university is an integral part of the town it belongs to. The universities noted below go above and beyond what is expected of them and have students that are fully committed to making a difference. All of them were even noted on the 2012 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. In no particular order, these five schools are places to keep in mind if service is a big part of your college choice.

1) Tulane University

Tulane’s Center for Public Service was established after Hurricane Katrina devastated the university’s home of New Orleans. Community service became a part of the core curriculum and graduation requirements for its students. Tulane must have gotten something right when they made that decision - it has been listed on Newsweek’s “25 Best Schools for Do-Gooders” and U.S. News and World Report’s “Best Colleges Ranking for Service Learning.” All students at Tulane participate in a 1000-3000 level service-learning course by the end of their sophomore year, and continue this commitment on a higher level in their last two years. It’s not every day you get to live in the Big Easy – and Tulane students make sure to give back to the historic city.

2) Loyola University Chicago

They might be in the Windy City, but the unpredictable Chicago weather doesn’t get the students of Loyola down. The Jesuit institution aims to “build for the greater good,” and to do so, makes it easy for its students to become active members of the Chicago area. They can choose from many different options for a one-time service opportunity, join a long-term commitment, and even find ways to volunteer after they’ve left Loyola. One important program, Loyola 4 Chicago, gathers groups of undergraduates to volunteer at the same place each week for the duration of the school year. The frequency of the service and the commitment shown build a strong and healthy relationship between city and university, and the students learn about life outside of the classroom.

3) Washington University in Saint Louis

This private Saint Louis university’s commitment to service shows in the numbers – about seventy-three percent of its students participate in community service during college in some way. Its Gephardt Institute makes their involvement in service easy by helping students discover creative ways to serve that fit their personalities. There are also programs like Science Outreach, which connects WashU to underserved K-12 school districts, and resources such as the Office of Government and Community Relations, which allows organizations and/or agencies to request volunteers through the school. These programs and others ensure that Washington University remains a helping hand in Saint Louis.

4) University of Pennsylvania

Penn’s founder, Benjamin Franklin, called for “an inclination…to serve mankind, one's Country, Friends and Family" when discussing the education of youth, and his university definitely took that to heart. In the 2009-2010 school year, 1,832 students were enrolled in ABCS (Academically Based Community Service) courses. Penn also developed a university-assisted community school, Penn Alexander, which benefits from direct involvement with university faculty and students. Its three hospitals serve thousands of Philadelphians and the university itself strengthens the local economy. It’s easy to see why the Survey of Best College and University Civic Partnerships named it a 2009 number one “good neighbor”. 

5) University of Southern California

USC’s Volunteer Center is uniquely run nearly entirely by its students. While it began in 1992 with only two students, it has grown today to become a true university department that boasts a large variety of programs to get other students involved in the SoCal area. If students wish to travel to serve, that’s not a problem – they offer six alternative spring break programs that allow students to see the world through service. USC also provides programs such as Jumpstart, which pairs college students with low-income preschoolers for one year, and Friends and Neighbors Service Days, which get students out in the community for service six times a year.