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Colleges and Community Service Requirements

Should Colleges Require Students to Complete Community Service Hours?

This question is something that every college has to think about. In some cases, without this requirement, students would not have any motivation to go out and help their community. However, many students feel that this requirement gets in the way of their studies. It is a difficult decision for colleges to make because they want their students to succeed academically but also want them to be well-rounded individuals who have a desire to reach out. It definitely depends on the school and where the school is located. For example, in more rural areas, it might be more difficult to find community service projects because the town is so small where in large cities, there are many more people to contact about community outreach.

Williams College, located in Williamstown, MA, does not have a community service requirement but many students find ways to give back to the small town of Williamstown. Alison Magruder, a rising junior at Williams, discusses the community service scene at her college: “I think that there is a general understanding among the student body that we have a responsibility to give back to the community. Therefore, whatever slot it takes, community outreach is definitely something on the priority list of every Williams student.” Alison plays soccer for Williams and is grateful that she is able to organize her community service endeavors on her own time instead of having to fulfill a specific requirement set by her college. Also, Alison believes that it means more to go out on your own to give back to your community instead of merely completing your school’s requirement.

At Tulane University in New Orleans, LA, there is a community service requirement. In order to graduate, every student must take a 1000-3000 level class and a 3000+ class with a “service-learning” component. This could be going to the court house to help defendants make bail, tutoring students at a local school, or building homes for Habitat for Humanity. Shira Spiegel, a rising junior at Tulane, is grateful that Tulane offers so many ways to give back to New Orleans. Shira was a “reading buddy” for elementary school students during her service-learning course but continued volunteering at the school after her course ended. Some students at Tulane are active volunteers who go to seek out new opportunities and others just try to rush through their service-learning classes as quickly as possible. Shira is happy that Tulane relates community service to academic courses but feels that sometimes the service projects are unrelated to the course.

Every school should strive to become as involved as they can. Especially when a school is located in an area which could greatly benefit from community service like post-Katrina New Orleans. Schools must actively create programs which allow students to give back. Overall, every school handles community service in different ways, but as long as students can find ways to give back, everybody wins.