The average person’s stream of consciousness automatically follows the words ‘college graduation’ with another word—‘job’. Senior year is seemingly focused so entirely on this one topic that it quickly becomes the only discernible path. While I agree that employment is the next natural and expected step after college graduation (it is the point of getting an education after all), it certainly isn’t the only option. Whether you’re feeling burnt out from years of grueling study, discouraged by the current job market, or, yes I know this sounds cheesy, just want to make a difference and, you know, help people, consider volunteering. You’re young, you’re able, you’re independent, you’re smart, you’re compassionate, and the world really does need you.
Scroll down to learn more about 5 organizations that are placing college grads in communities around the world, in the hopes of making a change for the better.
Teach For America places the country’s brightest minds (recent college grads) in low-performing school districts, with the goal of raising test scores and closing the vast education gap that exists in America today. In our country, where a person is born has a direct impact on their educational success. By sending the smartest of the smart into struggling schools to teach all subjects and all grades, Teach For America aims to close that educational gap and give every student the chance he or she deserves. A teaching degree is not a requirement for this program, but intelligence and determination absolutely are. Check out their website for more information on how to apply.
Habitat For Humanity builds homes for families that wouldn’t otherwise have one. The organization recruits volunteers to work with members of the community in an effort to build shelter for impoverished people. While the work may sound difficult, it is doable and the rewards far outweigh the taxing physical labor. Habitat For Humanity works around the globe building homes in over five different continents. However, in the United States, many people are able to volunteer locally in local and neighboring towns. Unlike other non-profits that may require a 2-year contract, a Habitat home can be built in a week. Visit their website to read about the many ways Habitat For Humanity could use your help.
Peace Corps sends volunteers all over the globe to give poor communities the tools they need to thrive. Volunteers aid communities in six different areas, including education, youth and community development, health, business and information, communications technology, agriculture, and the environment. The decision to join the Peace Corps is a big one. The commitment spans over 27 months and the work is not easy, but what the website states as a “life-defining leadership experience” is probably well worth a little stress. Go to peacecorps.gov to apply.
Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms employs volunteers to work on organic farms in order to practice the sustainability that is necessary for the continued survival of our food supply. No agricultural experience is necessary to join, volunteers only need to have the desire to learn and the desire to help. The experience is described by the website as an “exchange of education and culture”. Spending time learning to farm organically is definitely a departure from the life of a normal college student. The change of pace and substance that this opportunity brings will not only help others, but will help you as well. Read more about volunteering on organic farms at WWOOF’s website.
United Planet takes volunteers to over 40 countries around the world and helps communities achieve unity and peace with each other. United Planet focuses on diplomacy in an effort to improve relations between varying cultures and populations. Volunteers can choose between a long-term commitment and a short-term commitment, making United Planet a flexible choice for an in-flux post-grad. The organization is relatively new, but has been hugely successful and well received. Learn more about how to volunteer at unitedplanet.org.