Service hours


4th Grade students on Oregon Trail excursion

Yihan Zhang, Staff Writer

It is a well-known fact that more and more schools require students to do service hours, as educators realize that volunteering not only can help others, but can also benefit students. However, people’s views differ greatly as to whether students should have this requirement. Some of them don’t think it will help students to get a better life because they strongly believe the biggest task for students is doing well on their academic tasks. However, others argue that students should have this requirement, arguing that academic skill isn’t the only thing students should focus on.


To fully understand why people consider community service as a necessary requirement for students, I interviewed five students and five teachers. Most students prefer not to do this requirement, since some of them think this costs a lot of time. Some students who are seniors or juniors have to prepare for their college application, and they may not have time or energy to do this requirement. I also interviewed a group of sophomore students. One of them mentioned that if schools force students to do something that they don’t want to do, students are not going to put their effort or heart into it, and it also may cause social loafing when they are all in one group. “Social loafing” is that vocabulary word that explains that when people work together, there is often a small group of people who try to minimize their efforts. What this student said can let us know that if they are forced to do something, it may cause disengagement from the activity.  He said: “ If school forces me to do this, I am not going to put my heart into it.” Other students have similar perspectives, the most common point of view of students I interviewed is that doing service hours is fine, but they don’t want to spend their study time doing this.  While many students realize that the service experience would benefit them, it can still be hard for them to be enthusiastic about this.


Nevertheless, all the teachers I interviewed hold the opposite opinion to their students: they highly recommend that students engage in community service. The majority of those teachers claim that students need to be a full person instead of being a study machine. Students can always learn some new skills through community service, such as social skills and communication skills. It is true that social skills can influence a student significantly. To some extent, it can change their life if they have very good social skills that can always give people a special impression. Also, the service hours can let students get to know how lucky they are and make students cherish their life. Our school is a Quaker school and one of the values of Quakers is the community: the goal of our education is not only to let students thrive academically, but also encourage students to be a person that can contribute to our community. In fact, my advisor Ghislaine expresses her own perspective that the school tries to place high value on our education, which teaches and helps us to be a complete person. She said, “As a human, we cannot be too selfish, we need to learn how to love this world and how to contribute to society. It may sound idealistic, but this is exactly what we are trying to do.” Knowledge is not the only valuable thing we need to learn, we also need to explore fields besides study. 


According to the research published by Yale University, more than 90 percent of high schools ask students to finish two hundred service hours. Most students gain valuable things and are improved. The service requirement is absolutely what students need to do. Moreover, it can encourage students to inspire their love of the community and make them cherish their life.