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October 24, 2014
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Opinion

Jumpstart may bridge volunteerism gap among college students

A few days before the official move-in day, about 200 incoming Ithaca College freshmen come to campus early to participate in Jumpstart, an annual early arrival program geared toward easing the transition into college and community service. The community service component to Jumpstart may be promising in light of some discouraging statistics.

A study conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics stated 26.2 percent of teens aged 16–19 participated in volunteer work in 2013. For those aged 20–24, the number is significantly lower at 18.5 percent.

One reason why the drop occurs is some school districts allow high school students to receive credit for service learning or volunteering. According to an article in Education Week, 19 states allow for students to receive credit for volunteering as of 2011. In addition, seven states allow school districts to require students to complete volunteer hours in order to graduate, and organizations such as the National Honor Society require volunteer hours to maintain membership and recognition upon graduation.

Making volunteer work mandatory in high school leaves students with a lack of motivation to participate in volunteering opportunities after graduation. But with programs like Jumpstart, volunteer work can actually be fulfilling instead of demanding. Aside from being an early immersion and transitioning program, students who participate in certain Jumpstart programs are giving back to the community by choice through volunteering at schools and other organizations.

With the college offering a program like Jumpstart, volunteerism can possibly bridge the gap between the 16–19 and 20–24 age brackets.