Whether you are applying to college this fall or in a few years, chances are you will encounter an essay prompt like this one from the 2019/2020 University of California app:

Think about an academic subject that inspires you. Describe how you have furthered this interest inside and/or outside of the classroom.

This is a clever prompt, designed to reveal how much you care about your favorite academic subjects. College admissions officers are looking for clues to see what motivates and inspires you to learn. More to the point, they want to know what you will do with that knowledge once you step onto their campuses. Why not give colleges a preview? When you volunteer in high school, you create your own personal classroom outside of your school’s classrooms. There are no boundaries when it comes to exploring your interests through community service. Think about these possibilities:

Calling all Techies

Are you a computer-savvy student who studies coding? Consider signing up at a community center to teach elementary and middle school students game design with scratch, robotics programming with Lego WeDo, or mobile app design.   Code for Fun lets you practice your skills while teaching the next generation of coders.

Future Physicians and Scientists

Neurology is a fascinating and growing field. University of California, Irvine, offers a  Neurology Research Internship  for high school student. You can participate in the laboratory, supporting vital clinical research. Major universities have a variety of internships like genetics, neurobiology, psychiatry, and pathology. This gives students a range of medical science options to explore before firing off their college app.

All Business

Nonprofits are businesses just like for-profit organizations, with operations, marketing, sales, finance, and accounting jobs. Charities are the perfect training ground for business students to learn what takes to make a community-based organization run. Good Dog Autism’s Social Media Internship offers the opportunity for teens to use their digital skills for good.

Sustainability Stewards

Students interested in environmental science who want to understand what it takes to restore and maintain delicate ecosystems can learn about urban forestry can volunteer with Trees Atlanta.

PreMed Students

What better way to envision your future in healthcare than to volunteer in a hospital? You can interact with patients and families directly as a VolunTeen. There’s also a supplemental education program for students to learn directly from physician assistants, physical therapists, and medical specialists.

Underserved medicine is intriguing. Whether you want to enter the medical field in the United States or abroad, an international pre-med program gives you insights into different medical systems.  Students interested in a pre-med opportunity abroad where you’ll shadow doctors and support the outreach team can travel to Peru.

STEM Tutors

When you reach your final career destination, communicating what you know is essential to your success. Practice your tech communication skills by teaching complex topics to underserved students as a STEM Learning Lab Volunteer.

Colleges know that students volunteer for many reasons: a school graduation requirement, as a member of an extracurricular club, in preparation for a college application, or to create a resume for future employment. How you spend your time volunteering is what sets you apart from the crowd and represents your unique ambitions. There are opportunities in your area that are just as exciting.  VolunteerCrowd can help you find, request, and track your volunteer projects.


Amy von Kaenel

CEO and Founder, VolunteerCrowd

Inspiring Image by Shutterstock


Volunteering is one of the best growth opportunities on the path to college and career readiness. VolunteerCrowd gives all middle school, high school, and college students access to meaningful volunteer projects to build a volunteer portfolio. Get the app.