What is the first thing that comes to mind, when you read the word "volunteer"? Do you think of your local food bank and the volunteers that line up in the cold, harsh winter, distributing food to the needy? Do you think of the volunteers who spend their summer afternoons at the local recreation centre, coaching the U-10 soccer team? Or do you think of a high school student, filling out his scholarship application and his volunteer hours, trying to gain entry into a prestigious university?
From the very beginning of mankind, the need to help a fellow human being has been a natural part of the human instinct. In almost every world religion, volunteering is both encouraged and required to live a life of bliss and personal satisfaction. It is not a surprise, then, that many individuals contribute countless hours of their valuable time, to give back to their communities and society. These people, out of the goodness of their hearts, decide to set aside time and resources, to help our world. However, for many high school students, volunteering has a different spin on it. It represents a university acceptance letter from a place like McGill, or an entrance scholarship worth thousands of dollars. So is this exactly volunteering?
Volunteering is the donation of time or resources, without expectation of any tangible or financial returns. However, tell this to high school students, and you will get a range of answers. Most will tell you that this is simply an ideological approach, and volunteering is just a way to get into their desired post secondary institutions. For many who do not wish to pursue post secondary education, volunteering is simply needed to complete the 30 hours of required volunteer time. Being a high school student myself, I believe that the students are not at fault here, and their perception of volunteering is distorted by a wrong approach, initiated by the schools.
From the advent of Grade 10, when the Graduation Transitions program begins, students start to realize that major universities seek volunteer time from their applicants. At this stage, the schools can either steer the children to a path in which they enjoy volunteering, or in a trajectory where volunteering simply represents a static equation, where volunteering equals university. It's not wrong to volunteer simply to gain acceptance into university or receive a scholarship, however, if schools can imbue a sense of happiness from the process of volunteering, it seems more likely that students will passionately contribute time to their community, even as adults and seniors. Aside from this, even being accepted as a volunteer is sometimes tough. Many volunteering places require students to have previous volunteer experience. Acquiring a volunteer position should be very accessible, as is the true nature of volunteering.
Students who volunteer for university acceptance are definitely contributing to our society, and deserve to be commended for this. If they can also gain passion from volunteering, it allows them to fully enjoy the benefits of volunteerism, apart from the university acceptance letter.