When applying to college, med school, jobs and residency, it’s all the same. You need to have “volunteer work” on your application. It’s no longer, “Oh wow, this person volunteers! They must be a good person.” It is, “Well this person only volunteered X amount of hours instead of Y or Z amount of hours.” Everyone volunteers. Does it really tell as much about your character as colleges, schools or companies originally viewed it as? I say no. “Volunteering” is a requirement to get to the next step in your career, not necessarily a deed done to give back to the community. It might be both, and I certainly hope that it is, but volunteering inevitably means less because it is required to get to the next step in a career.
On top of that, volunteering can actually do more harm than good to a community. This is particularly the case when students “volunteer” abroad in developing countries. Playing with children at orphanages in rural parts of Africa only to leave a week later solves nothing and actually leaves more feelings of abandonment. Just one example. Now, not all volunteering is to get ahead. Many people actually want to give back to their communities. But I just wanted to bring up a different side of volunteering that we don’t often talk about because it makes us uncomfortable.