When it comes to teaching creatively we use both the heart and the mind in equal measure. ..
If you’re a high school teacher, you know a large percentage of students in your classes are interested in post-secondary school. Students are constantly worrying about their grades and doing everything they can to raise their averages. Your students are probably aware that many of the best institutes consider extracurricular activities, particularly sports, when deciding who to accept. They might not know that many colleges also consider character.
As a teacher, you can help your students demonstrate the kind of superior character many colleges are looking for. You can do this by showcasing student projects for demonstrating altruism and compassion. Perhaps you can make the projects an option so you can sincerely write to colleges in your letters of recommendation that the students chose to be altruistic and compassionate. Hopefully, the projects will also genuinely make your students even more so.
10 Altruism Projects for High School
- Tutoring Younger Students
- Tutoring Less Fortunate Students
- Tutoring Adults
- Talking To Senior Citizens
- Helping Senior Citizens
- Fixing The Community
- Cleaning The Community
- Learning Life-Saving Skills
- Working For The Government
- Helping Animal Shelters
Each of these projects should also have an academic component so students are simultaneously demonstrating altruism and academic ability. Colleges are more impressed by students who demonstrate both. Here are 10 ideas for high school student projects for demonstrating altruism.
- Tutoring Younger Students: Many libraries give high school students an opportunity to tutor younger students. Some of the opportunities are voluntary, and some actually pay. You can investigate these opportunities and match the skills of your students with the needs of younger students. You can even start a tutoring program at your school district, with high school students tutoring middle school students.
- Tutoring Less Fortunate Students: You know that your teaching skill matters, but students often learn better when their instructor is a peer. How about setting up a program with a teacher from a poor school district? Your students might improve their communications skills tutoring poor urban or rural students. Meeting people of diverse backgrounds might also make them more altruistic.
- Tutoring Adults: Local community colleges often have programs to help adults in their communities improve their academic skills. Just making your students realize that there are adults who can’t read or write can make them more worldly. Imagine if they spent considerable time during a school year helping adults read for the first time during their lives.
- Talking To Senior Citizens: How about setting up a regular forum with a local senior citizens’ community or a retirement community? Many senior citizens love talking to young people and sharing their experiences and ideas. A weekly forum where seniors and students discuss contemporary issues could make your students more understanding and mature.
- Helping Senior Citizens: Delivering food to immobile senior citizens at their homes is an excellent way to help people. Students will feel they have made an altruistic contribution to people. Many communities have Meals On Wheels programs, but students who don’t drive can also deliver food to seniors who live nearby.
- Fixing The Community: Do your students feel like they are part of their community? Many students feel they are, but they might become more compassionate people if they’re part of their town’s community. Even the best communities have homes and businesses that need repair work. Here is an example of a project that consisted of student volunteers repairing senior citizens’ homes. Your own school might need repair work.
- Cleaning The Community: Many grammar schools have programs that help get students interested in the environment. If your students are still interested in the environment, they might be enthusiastic about participating in a recycling program. Picking up trash in local parks and schools and making sure it is delivered to the local recycling center sounds like a menial project, but colleges might be impressed by students who are involved in their community.
- Learning Life-Saving Skills: High school students are old enough to learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Here is an example of a program that teaches high school students how to be emergency medical technicians (EMTs). Your students could be one of the volunteer paramedics who are ready to help classmates who are injured at high school sports events.
- Working For The Government: It’s not unheard of for high school students to be volunteer interns for local lawmakers such as a mayor. The work is often mundane, so students must find lawmakers who will teach them how local government provides services to people. The students also need to make this an academic experience by writing about it. Colleges will definitely be impressed by students who have had government internships.
- Helping Animal Shelters: This might be the easiest project to get students interested in participating. Nevertheless, students who actually work at a local shelter for dogs and cats are more apt to become altruistic people than students who don’t. Students can feed the animals, walk the dogs, keep the animals company, and help find homes for them.
A student with a low SAT score and low grades might not get accepted by an Ivy League school. That said, a B student who has demonstrated compassion might have a better chance than an A student who has never accomplished anything outside the classroom. Hopefully these student projects for demonstrating altruism and compassion will be useful to them. It could make all the difference needed for them to get into the university or college of their dreams.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in 2017 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.
Originally published Dec 18, 2017, updated Dec 16, 2021