Families often ask me for guidance on selecting the best community service and leadership development programs for their students. I recently came across a program organized by the local YMCA in my area that illustrates how easy it really is for students to get involved in community service.

However, too often community service is just a notch in the belt or a box to be ticked. Students do it, but most just put in the hours without actually accomplishing or learning much of anything.

Some families will pay thousands of dollars to do community service in far-away places, when they could just as well serve needy folks within miles of their own homes.

The measure of one’s true contribution is not the number of hours or the miles traveled, but the impact the individual student makes on the community.

This is the potential of the programs at the YMCA. They help students perform needed services, but they also build the leadership potential within the students themselves to make a difference in the community.

The Y programs are called “Teens Making a Difference” or the “Leaders Club.” Either way, students as young as 11 can start making a difference in their communities and also develop leadership skills.

Some of these programs may cost a few bucks, but not nearly as much as an air ticket to Costa Rica or Nepal.

If you’re looking for more information about how to manage the college admissions process, check out the resources available at theGreat College Roadmap.

Published by Mark Montgomery

Mark is a leading educational consultant. His experience as a professor, college administrator, and youth mentor help him guide students from around the country and around the world.

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