Service in School

College admissions have become a war torn landscape filled with burned dreams, crushing anxiety, and insane competition. It is often noted that even “superstars” are turned down by colleges, even when their accomplishments are beyond that of most adults. But what could be cause a star student to be overlooked? Although there are many reasons for this, I am going to examine one such reason: community service.

An added caveat to modern admissions is the addition of community service. It is not sufficient to be artistically or academically gifted, or an accomplished athlete, one must complete community service to show their community outreach and connections, the simplest method of doing so being community service. It is unsure what the purpose of this might be. Will one need to have community skills to perform nuclear fission or program the new version of Windows? Likely not, but community service has many different purposes.

The intended effect of this phenomenon is probably a combination of having students be introduced to public service and have an increased participation of youth in service. I applaud the nobility of this cause, however Communism espoused a similarly noble cause of equality. And as with Communism (or its derivatives) this “pseudo-requirement” has a very much different effect than intended. Luckily, we haven’t quite created Gulags yet in the public school system (although this depends on your definition of detention).

Being required to do community service does introduced many youth to service, but in a less positive light than was intended. Rather than doing service as a method of self-betterment or genuine care for the community, students commit themselves to the (bare-minimum) number of hours with the total intention of doing whatever menial labor one is tasked until you can ask someone to sign a slip of paper that proves you are a pure, community oriented youngster. How can anyone really tell the difference between a dedicated service provider and one who is just there for the recognition? That’s the real shame in all of this, that disingenuous behavior is the status quo, instead of genuine care.

Doing service for fun, self-betterment, or to just help can be fun and fulfilling, but pressuring students into doing service is detrimental to all parties. Now colleges can’t be sure if a student really cares about community or simply did their hours in the labor camp. Similarly, a student can’t fully understand the benefits of community service without the pressure of failure looming over an activity designed to be about selflessness, not personal gain. Hopefully the sanctity of the few institutions we have remaining will remain untouched by the influence of academia, such as academic honesty, the innocence of childhood, and friendly competition in the pursuit of knowledge.

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