Lesson 14: Importance of Volunteer and Community Service As an Individual with Vision Loss
Although your Grade Point Average (GPA) and your scores on standardized tests such as the SAT and ACT or college placement tests are important factors when colleges or career schools review your application for admission, the institutions are also looking for information that reflects how you may contribute to student life on campus as well as how well rounded you are. Whether you’ve disclosed your visual impairment in your application or not, admissions office staff want to make sure you will be a good fit at the school. Your involvement in extracurricular and community activities (such as volunteering) is one way for you to demonstrate your leadership qualities and positive character traits as a student who is visually impaired. Your academic distinctions, honors, and awards will also be of value when applying to college.
Most college applications include a designated space to list and explain the extracurricular and volunteer activities you are involved with during and outside of your school or work day. If you applied to college today, would your list of activities help you stand out among other college applicants?
- Create a list of the extracurricular activities you are involved in.
- Review your list to determine how you can expand your leadership or involvement at school as a student who is blind or visually impaired. Consider joining a club that is related to the field of work you may be interested in such as Future Business Leaders of America or the Yearbook Planning Committee. As you decide which clubs to join, keep in mind, the depth of extracurricular activities is more important than a wide range of activities. For instance, it may be more notable if you are involved with two clubs for four years; one of which you are president of versus being a member of five clubs over four years. Joining clubs your senior year or just before you submit your college application may not carry much merit. A long-term commitment to a club or extracurricular activity will be of greater value.
Volunteering your time as a student who is visually impaired proves your commitment to your community as well as your compassion towards helping others. In addition, volunteering as a student with vision loss has many benefits. You will be exposed to different working environments and situations as well as have the opportunity to explore a potential career field. Furthermore, individuals who volunteer often have more networking connections than those who do not. As a volunteer, you may schedule time to work on a project outside of your normal role as a student or employee, which demonstrates your time management and organizational skills on a college application. These aspects are recognized by colleges when your work as a volunteer is indicated on your application.
There are thousands of non-profit organizations who need volunteers to donate their time to assist with a variety of tasks such as spending time with pets in shelters or tutoring underprivileged students. You may want to look for an opportunity to volunteer for an organization that supports a cause you care about such as feeding the homeless or giving time to support service members and their families. As you plan to donate your time, volunteering for at least 50 hours to the same organization will demonstrate long-term dedication and a desire to make a difference as opposed to volunteering on only one or two occasions.
Use the article “Finding Volunteer Positions As an Individual Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired” to help you to locate a volunteer opportunity that is a good fit for you.
Use Lesson 4: Volunteering from the What Is Work? lesson plan series for tips on selecting a volunteer opportunity that meets your needs as a student who is blind or visually impaired.
Research each public service/volunteer opportunity to identify the organization’s cause. Consider volunteering your time for one of the organizations that interest you.
Youth Volunteer Corps
Create the Good
American Cancer Society
Big Brothers Big Sisters of America
Coalition for the Homeless
Make a Wish America
Habitat for Humanity
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
Meals on Wheels America
Research volunteer opportunities in your local community. Contact three organizations to inquire about volunteering your time. Create an electronic log to document the information you obtain about opportunities which are available. Consider volunteering your time for at least one organization.
Food pantry or food bank
Day care center
County government office
Special events such as festivals
Once you have contacted an organization who needs your support and understands your abilities to contribute as a student with vision loss, you will most likely need to complete a volunteer application or packet. Be prepared to discuss with the volunteer coordinator how the environment you will volunteer in needs to be made accessible to you as a student who is blind or visually impaired. Also, be prepared to discuss how you will use your efficiency tools to perform your assigned tasks as a student with vision loss.
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