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Mentoring Youth: A Rewarding Way for College Students to Make a Difference

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Volunteering during spring break and summer vacation has been growing in popularity among the college crowd in recent years, and some students are even opting to spend time helping others while school is still in session. Volunteer work is not only an act of philanthropy, it’s a good way to gain experience in various fields and possibly earn college credit or even win scholarships.

College students are often encouraged to find mentors that can offer advice and provide guidance throughout their undergraduate years, so why not turn the tables and join a mentoring program? Spending time with young children and teenagers is a great way for college students to volunteer and encourage young people.

Easy Ways to Volunteer While You’re in College

If you’ve been bitten by the volunteer bug, there’s no better time to start than right now. Even if you have a busy schedule, most volunteer agencies and organizations would appreciate your assistance even if you’re only able to help out for an hour or two each week.

  • Volunteer right on campus. Some colleges have weekend programs or summer camps for children in the area, and it’s pretty likely that your school would appreciate your assistance. When I was in college, my band director began holding a week-long summer program for area high school students. It served as a way to possibly recruit new students and it provided the high school kids with insight about college life.
  • Volunteer with a local community organization. You shouldn’t have to travel far to volunteer your time and make a difference in the lives of others. You can ask for local agencies on campus, or contact places yourself. Community organizations such as shelters or hospitals often have organized programs in place for people to spend time with children.
  • Volunteer at a local church or other religious organization. Churches typically have youth groups and they often have camp-like classes in the summertime. If you’re comfortable volunteering in a religious setting, you may enjoy spending time with young people at a church. You can always explain what your life is like at school and talk about the process of applying to go to college.

Big Brothers Big Sisters

Big Brothers Big Sisters of America is one of the largest and oldest youth mentoring programs in the United States. It’s a well-known, nationwide non-profit organization with the mission to help children reach their potential through professionally supported, one-to-one relationships with mentors that try to have a measurable impact on youth.

If you’re wondering whether or not Big Brothers Big Sisters is a worthwhile organization, consider this.

In 1994 and 1995, Public/Private Ventures, an independent Philadelphia-based national research organization, looked at over 950 boys and girls from eight Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies across the country selected for their large size and geographic diversity.

Researchers found that after 18 months of spending time with their “Bigs”, the Little Brothers and Little Sisters, compared to those children not in our program, were:

  • 46% less likely to begin using illegal drugs
  • 27% less likely to begin using alcohol
  • 52% less likely to skip school
  • 37% less likely to skip a class
  • 33% less likely to hit someone

Big Brothers Big Sisters currently operates in all 50 states, and if you are interested in finding a program in your area you can visit their website.

Start Your Own Mentoring Foundation

Popular Oklahoma Sooners football player Quinton Carter is known as Mr. Q when he shows up at KinderCare every Wednesday afternoon. Just as the Oklahoman reported, the news of athletes starting foundations is nothing new … but most don’t do so until they’re professionals, and Quinton is still in college.

Quinton is the founder of a nonprofit charitable foundation that is changing lives not only in areas around his college but also back home in his hometown of Las Vegas. He is mentoring at-risk kids, supporting in-need dads, and doing football camps. His reason? "I didn’t want to wait until I got to the NFL,” he said last season. "I feel this is something I have to do, something I’m supposed to do.”

Quinton grew up in a two-parent household and never had to deal with most of the things the children he mentors deal with, but he knows the importance of knows the importance of having someone that believes in you.

Volunteering at KinderCare is one of his latest activities, and the kids adore him. "I did not approach him or anything,” said Wanda Ramirez, who oversees the child-care center. "It was all his doing. He is so good with the kids.”

Quinton Cater is definitely one mentoring college student that goes above and beyond.


Melissa Rhone+

Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.

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