For students who choose to move away from home for university, it can be a jarring experience. In some cases, you’re leaving the community you’ve spent a great portion of your life in. Friends, family and a familiar environment are being abandoned in the hopes of getting a degree.
There are so many things that need to be considered when choosing where to study. Is the university good? Does it have the facilities I need? Do graduates from the university go on to get decent jobs?
Still, this is one of many dimensions of consideration. Students will be thinking about the location of the university. Is it a city based campus? Is it convenient to get to the city? Maybe more stereotypically, but students will be considering if the city has a good and safe nightlife.
With all this and various other factors to consider, it can be forgiven if students don’t stop to consider the community of where they’re moving too. This makes even more sense if you’re planning to move away after the degree.
Students are not thinking about the community they’re moving to. What are people like? Is it a place with a lot of culture and activities to do? Will this be a place I can say I am a proud member and an active member of? These questions may not come to mind.
This is a great but understandable shame. The best communities are built of cohesion and communication from all those involved.
Even those who are there temporarily can have a profound impact and do a great good.
Students are unique for the amount of free time they have, generally speaking. Of course, some subjects are more demanding than others. Some need to also get jobs just to cover their studies. For those with free time, getting involved in the community that they live in is an excellent thing to do.
Volunteering is one of those excellent things that students should be actively encouraged to do.
Volunteering projects are often set up to provide support and help where there is an ongoing systematically failing. These services are vital. The community identifies where support is needed and volunteer services are created. You get to interact with the community and step out of the student bubble.
Students can make a real difference for their community by planning a role in volunteer groups. There are a myriad of different groups to choose from.
It can be low commitment and flexible depending on the organisation, so it can fit around studies.
This is not to mention the other positive effects of volunteering like improving mental health and being a great p;ace to meet new friends. If you need a more cynical and career-oriented reason, volunteering looks great on any CV.
If everyone, even students, could give up a few hours a week, the world would be a better place.
If we are to realise a true community, a true collective, everyone needs to be willing to help and make a difference.