While you're checking out all the obvious criteria for choosing a college—stuff like size, location, majors, and so forth—don't forget to ask about opportunities for service. At a Christian college, there are often many options.
We talked to some students about the ways they've chosen to serve others while in college. Here are their stories:
Acts of Workship
Jenny Warner wanted to find ways to help others while at Palm Beach Atlantic College. And while helping out in the school's "Workship" program, she didn't have to look very far: The opportunities came knocking.
"Our fax machine is flooded with requests for help," Jenny says of the "Workship" program.
Workship coordinates projects for PBAC students, who complete 45 hours of community service each year as part of their coursework. "There's something going on in the office almost every week, and we also have weekend trips for regional projects, summer mission trips, and spring break trips," Jenny says. Although students are free to choose any type of service for non-profit agencies, the Workship office helps them to keep up with all of their options. Jenny and her coworkers contact organizations, promote projects, send out flyers, coordinate trips, and more.
Last year, Workship students worked with the Special Olympics, "a really popular project," Jenny says. "They had bowling games and outdoor games. People just loved it," Jenny says. For animal lovers, Workship provides an opportunity to pitch in at the local zoo. "We help out with the work they don't have the staff for," says Jenny. And for those who just want to make the community a safer place, there's always construction: "We recently installed smoke detectors in some buildings that didn't have any."
Although Jenny did her share of community service in high school, she says Workship has given her the chance to work in a wider variety of places. The many options for service make it easy, she says, to do what may seem like a monumental task.
"For some people, the community service requirement may seem like a really hard thing, but when people actually go, they have some sense of gratification because they've done something. They can appreciate what they have when they see people who have nothing."
Also, the ongoing nature of Workship is good preparation for service beyond college. "Little things will always come up in church or whatever," Jenny observes. Helping out with a lot of "little things" can add up, and people realize that they don't have to go on a big mission trip to make a difference in other people's lives.
A Day for Deeds
Austin Ashenbrenner, a sociology major who graduated from George Fox University in May, believes "people are always willing to roll up their sleeves and help out if given the opportunity."
At George Fox, they most definitely are. Every year, the university devotes one day to community service. That's one day when no classes are held and the campus is all but deserted, because everyone from the university president to the newest freshman student is on the streets of Newberg, Oregon. As Austin says, "This is what George Fox stands for. We want to turn out people who aren't just educated professionals, but who are compassionate, whole individuals."
As part of that mission, the univers-ity celebrates "Serve Day." Last year, around 1500 volunteers participated, servicing 65 area non-profit organizations. According to Austin, there's a "pretty cool spectrum" of projects, from construction-oriented jobs like yardwork, painting, and working with Habitat for Humanity to ministry projects like leading worship at local retirement communities.