Volunteering for Scholarships

What kind of impression would the following letter make if it was attached to YOUR college or scholarship application?

To Whom It May Concern,

It is my honor to recommend (insert your name) for admission to your institution (or ‘to receive your scholarship’). I have worked closely with(your name) since he/she joined our volunteer organization when he/she was 14 years of age.

Since that time, I have watched (your name) grow into the mature young person he/she is today. He/she has always exhibited a positive attitude, and is known throughout our hospital (company, etc.) for a winning smile and a willingness toperform whatever task needs to be done in a timely and efficient manner.

(Your name) has always been willing to assume theleadership role among the other student volunteers, and has led many successful group projects. Also, due to his/her maturity, (your name) has often been assigned to areas reserved for our adult volunteers.

The average community service student volunteer contributes up to 200-250 hours in a four year period. (Your name) his proven his/her dedication and sense of responsibility with a total service contribution of over 1,500 hours in that same period of time.

I am delighted to recommend (your name) to you. This is an outstanding young (man/woman) with proven leadership skills, dedication to the task at hand, seriousness of purpose, and a long record of exceptional job performance. (Your name) will excel in your school, or wherever life leads them in the future.

Jane Doe, Director
Volunteer Services Department

Believe it or not, you might find volunteering in high school to be the key that opens the door to the college of your choice, and it can be the most important tool you have to get the scholarships you need. And, what’s the very best part? It’s fun!

Some other advantages to be gained during your community service experience are:

  • learning new things,
  • seeing if the career you think you are interested in is right for you,
  • meeting students from all around your city – not just those inyour school,
  • establishing a real “work record” even if you are still too young for a real job,
  • discovering new talents,
  • honing your communication skills by relating to people of all ages and cultures,
  • helping those less fortunate than you, and
  • working with others to accomplish something meaningful and lasting.

Once you make the decision to volunteer, the first thing you need to do is to contact places within your community to find out what their requirements are for student volunteers. These can vary greatly based on the types of tasks required. Common teen volunteer placements include hospitals, libraries, nursing homes, schools, churches, community activities such as runs or community fairs, and many, many others. You just have to look for them – but get started early!Lots of students want to volunteer during the summer, and many of the summer programs are filled long before school lets out. Additionally, almost all require letters of recommendation from teachers, and you don’t want to be the one to ask a teacher for a letter two days before the end of the school year.

Like everything in life, volunteering takes planning, and taking the first step. Get started now – the whole world of community service is in front of you, and your experiences there will last a lifetime.

Related Links and Resources

If you are even thinking about selecting a career or about going to college, it’s never too early to sign up to volunteer for community service. The numbers of scholarships available to teens who have done so are too high to count. Furthermore, letters of recommendation from places where you have contributed your time help pave the way to college admission, too. Here are some resources to aim your efforts in the right direction.

America’s Promise

This is an organization sponsored by General Colin Powell. If you would like to help a troubled youth have a better future, call 1-888-55-YOUTH.

Animal Shelters

Look up your local ASPCA animal shelter. They need volunteers to walk animals, play with them, feed them, and love them. If you are a real critter person, this should be right up your alley.


If not for the contribution of thousands of volunteer hours each year, many of the nation’s hospitals couldn’t operate. Call your local hospital today! You might get to work at the information desk, or in the gift shop, or on a community service project. One thing is for sure – you’ll meet folks you ordinarily wouldn’t have the chance to meet, and you’ll have a great time while you work toward hours for your college admission and scholarship applications.


Just how much do you love to read? What could be better than volunteering at your local library. You might be re-shelving books or reading stories to children. Libraries love their volunteers.

Nursing Homes and Retirement Centers

These places are in desperate need of volunteers just to interact with their residents. Play games, sit and talk, or just help out around the place – these are smaller sites where you will soon get to know everyone. Check it out.

Points of Light Foundation

For the last ten years this has been the go-to site for general information about volunteering. Full of statistics, it will show you who volunteers, and where they volunteer. Go to www.pointsoflight.org.

The United Way

The United Way sponsors dozens of agencies and most of them couldn’t run without their volunteers. Teen volunteers prove invaluable because of their energy, enthusiasm, and willingness to learn. Check out www.liveunited.org and see what opportunities are available in your community.