"Making a Difference" in College

<p>As a pre-med student, everyone talks about "making a difference" in college. Either in college or in the local community. I really want to be involved in community service and leadership activities during college, but what are some ways I can truly make a difference? I had some ideas, one involving starting a program that sets up grad students to mentor motivated highschool students in research (something I always wished existed as a highschooler) and then another project which would set up college students with dyslexia and ADHD to mentor kids with the same "disorders (myself being one of those ADHD kids who would have benefited from mentoring). But I'm not so sure how realistic those ideas are. What are some other project ideas or ways to serve and lead in both college and/or the community?</p>

<p>The ideas you mention likely already exist either as work study opportunities or as part of curriculum.
No need to reinvent the wheel.</p>

<p>Yes a lot of colleges have outreach to the local community and schools that you can get involved in.
<a href=“Swearer Center. Brown University.”>http://brown.edu/academics/college/special-programs/public-service/&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/p&gt;

<p>Premeds usually volunteer in hospitals and/or on rescue squad. </p>

<p>I’m not really sure what you’re suggesting with the grad students makes that much sense. Wouldn’t that be between the grad student and the high school student? I don’t see where you, the undergrad, fit in. Grad students are usually pretty busy. If a high school student is interested in the work, they may get accepted into the lab (this would require the approval of the professor) and then they probably would be mentored by a grad student. If not, well I guess I think it would be a hard sell to convince busy grad students to go running after high school students who aren’t interested in getting involved.</p>

<p>@emeraldkity4 Hmmm, I’ll do a double check but as far as I know, at least in my area, nothing of the sorts exists. I do know something somewhat similar to the latter idea exists at some of the ivy league colleges, but not in the colleges near me.</p>

<p>@BrownParent Thank you! The link was really helpful. The college mainly consists of students who don’t care enough to go anywhere else, so we really don’t have any of those opportunities. However I know that the two private LACs nearby have some programs similar to the ones in the link you sent me, so either I’ll create those opportunities at my college, or see if I can join theirs.</p>

<p>@mathyone Yeah, I’m going to start working on my EMT license this summer and currently volunteer at a hospital. It just seemed a little generic. About the grad student idea, it was just a rough idea that needs a lot of editing if I’m to pursue it more seriously. Me the undergrad was just going to set up and kind of direct the program. I know several professors and many grad students who I’ve done research with at my college who said they’d be willing to help if I set up the program. The grad students I know are ones who mentored me as a highschool student and said they’d be willing to mentor other motivated highschool students. We have a lot of schools in underprivileged, minority areas, not a lot of opportunities exist for them and they don’t think to look for them either. Same with the private schools in the area, no one does any research with local colleges and universities because no one knows it’s an option. I just wanted to at least provide that opportunity for any motivated highschoolers out there. Obviously not just any highschooler could participate, there would be a selection process and a limited number of slots depending on the number of grad students able to mentor. Again though, that’s just a rough idea.</p>

<p>“Making a difference” does not mean you have to create something new. “Making a difference” means…making a difference. Get involved. Be inspiring. Help out. Change at least one person’s life. If you go in with the idea of doing the most you can, chances are you make a difference in more than just one person’s life. </p>

<p>Personally I like the idea of the ADHD thing much better because that is something you personally could participate in as a mentor. I guess I wasn’t so impressed at the idea of you asking other (busy) people to contribute their time rather than being such a mentor yourself.</p>

<p>@Niquii77 Thank you for readjusting my perspective, you’re right. I guess that’s just the overachiever in me. </p>

<p>@mathyone Yeah, I really liked the ADHD idea better as well. I’ve always kind of wanted to mentor kids anyways, so this seems like it would be perfect. I’ll probably start by just volunteering to mentor or tutor ADHD kids at local schools, and then if I see a need for it, I’ll try and implement my ADHD idea. Like I said, the research idea was just something I thought of when writing this post, I have no emotional attachment to it whatsoever :wink: </p>

<p>Also just wanted to add that I guess I didn’t word my question quite right. Volunteering and community service is definitely one aspect of college I’d like ideas on, but I’d also really like ideas about other college opportunities as well. I visited the Bama thread awhile back and they had a “BamaBrag” thread. So many of the parents’ kids were doing amazing activities and participating in research competitions, service projects, internships, various clubs and honor societies, etc. I never even knew some of what they were doing existed for college students. So I really just want to know how you’re kids have gotten involved in college along with cool opportunities that college students can get involved in such as the rescue squad that @mathyone mentioned, or research competitions, or honor societies worth joining, etc. Basically just brag about your own kids and add any additional interesting tidbits you think might be helpful or noteworthy.</p>

<p>My oldest had a tutoring job at a nearby high school for her work study job through the local school district and her private college, her freshmen year.
My youngest has been mentoring local students through programs at her directional college.
She just returned from a week long environmental trip in the San Juan islands with 6th graders.
( and she just became certified as a Wilderness First Responder over spring break)</p>

<p>My D started a Habitat for Humanity Youth group at her high school. She continued with HforH in college, eventually being in charge of site selection & volunteer training for her school. Pick something you enjoy doing, and the leadership opportunities will present themselves.</p>

<p>@southerncharm95 if you’re interesting in mentoring LD/ADHD high schoolers through an established organization, Eye to Eye is a national organization that does just that! You could try to start a chapter at your school, giving you both leadership experience and the benefit of having an established organization behind you for support</p>

<p>@emeraldkity4 Wow that’s very impressive! Thanks for sharing (and btw, if that’s you’re dog, he/she is adorable).</p>

<p>@kelsmom Thank you also for sharing about your D! Good for her. I was just looking into a Habitat for Humanity group in our area.</p>

<p>@jazzcatastrophe Ooh that sounds absolutely perfect!! Thanks for letting me know. Will definitely be looking more seriously into Eye-to-Eye.</p>

<p>Yes, thanks thats our dog shortly after we got him last year.
He is about the same size, but much more musclely from dribbling his horse ball around the dog park.
Our daughter kept sending me petfinder links until I got one.</p>

<p>Awww, I used to plague petfinder too. Oh and our dogs love the horse Jolly balls and Egges. It really does help their muscle tone.</p>

<p>I think the best thing you can do is to personalize your college experience -do what best suits you If you aren’t interested in going abroad don’t do it, if research isn’t your thing don’t do it, if you like working with kids - volunteer with a children’s group, if you like to dance join the ballroom dancing club, etc. </p>

<p>There are so many things to join and do on a college campus - the best advice is to find out what there is and stay informed. You should subscribe to the facebook pages for student organizations, read the student blogs, check the activities calendar, attend the activities fair, pay attention to signs on campus, ask your advisors for ideas, etc. Then be open to trying these things out !</p>


This might sound trite, and if so, I’m sorry, but:</p>

<p>When young people talk about “making a difference,” they usually mean some splashy, sparkly thing that sounds really good and tackles “big issues.” (Think “We started an online community for people who care about women’s rights abroad!” Okay, that’s nice - what good actually came from it?) But when adults talk about “making a difference,” it’s often smaller, but far more effective, things: mentoring a kid without a dad, coaching a sports team, giving money to the person in life who has never caught a break and needs $50 that she doesn’t have to get her car out of the tow yard, etc. </p>

<p>Also, you tend to be a more effective server and leader when you see a problem and decide on a good way to fix it, rather than going out with a toolbox full of fixes and trying to apply them to situations. </p>

<p>@southerncharm95 I like the ADHD approach, too. But that’s probably because it’s one of my pet causes—as a a high achieving adult with ADHD and the mother of a child (or maybe two) who deal with it as well, I think it’s great chance to provide kids with a real life examples of people who are successes in all of their spacey, twitchy, distractible glory. (On the other hand, it can be a real challenge to organize people like us!)</p>

<p>@ariesathena I don’t think you’re answer was trite, I see your point. I do have to check myself and make sure I’m not doing community service for selfish reasons. I’ve had the ADHD idea for several years now and I think it’s something I really want to do to help kids with ADHD have a better chance of becoming successful. Often times, the ADHD kids in my area end up on the streets or on welfare when they graduate. Less than 1% of ADHD kids go to college, let alone graduate; this is my “solution” to the problem. I already volunteer by tutoring a few after school, and I think they just need a little guidance and inspiration…someone who believes in them. For this project, like you said, I saw a problem and thought this would be one way to try and help the situation. I don’t believe I just went out with ideas to fix society and looked for something that needed some fixin’. I appreciate your perspective though. I still strive to do the little things similar to what you mentioned every chance I get…things no one but the person on the receiving end would ever know about that truly make a difference. Thank you for your input.</p>