One issue that high schoolers face as they approach graduation is how many community service hours they have amassed. As a sophomore, community service is already becoming something to think about for my peers and I. And while I completely support helping out in our community or even in the world, I don’t agree that community service should be a requirement for graduation. I know that sounds harsh, but hear me out.

No matter the method, I agree that it’s important for people to help out if they can. It’s easy to say that as long as people are helping, it doesn’t matter whether they actually want to. Either way the work is still getting done. It’s true that maybe the volunteer work precedes the mindset behind it, however I believe that’s contrary to the very nature of “community service.” The word implies adding to the community in a way meaningful to both it and you. Nowhere does it say that this is necessary or that everyone should even be doing it. People who choose to volunteer are supposed to be distinct in that they make a sacrifice because they want to, not because they have to. Being told that you have to do something good without believing in the good intentions negates the action in my mind and is disrespectful to those who do care.

The most plausible reason I can think of to justify this inadequate requirement is that it is believed high schoolers to do not have the capacity to understand the good of volunteering, so forcing us is the only way to introduce the good. That feeling of rightness that is often associated with volunteering can’t be created without organic intentions in my mind, so I would think the forcing would turn people off from the true potential good.

What does community service actually show in the context of college applications or a symbol on a diploma? Is it a point of pride to say that you volunteered because you had to? Does forced activism prove that you’re a good person? An arbitrary amount of hours doesn’t prove anything more about character than grades on a transcript do. All both show is that you took the time/didn’t take the time to do something. If I were to say that a specific GPA number was reflective of your personality and represents your moral character, you would likely be horrified, Yes, you did find it somewhere in your heart to sacrifice your time to others in community service, yet you also sacrificed your time to earn certain grades. You don’t expect your grades to mean anything beyond an ability to find the time to study thoroughly and complete homework, so why would you expect volunteer hours to mean anything different than that? Even the most evil person could volunteer the same amount of hours as a high school graduate and be regarded with the same “respect.” Maybe this all stems from the belief that educations should produce well- rounded students, which is another issue within itself.

Once again, there is no conclusive answer to this question. Everyone is absolutely entitled to their opinion on the matter and discussion on these issues is most important for changes in the system and our mindsets.

 

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Aashna Moorjani
Aashna Moorjani is a sophomore (18-19) at Millburn High School and the Website Administrator for Studio 462.