Service Learning Should NOT be Mandatory For College Students

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Service learning is the name for forcing college students to do volunteer work as part of their college careers. The hope is that this volunteer work will give students a better sense of civic duty, and thus, be a worthy addition to college curriculums. However, this idea relies on the faulty premise that if one is forced to volunteer that one will derive the same benefits as someone who does it out of their own desire to help. Mandatory service learning will not have the desired effect, and should not be forced upon students.

It is perhaps intuitive to think that by making students help others there will be a net positive; there could be no downside to volunteering time and effort to help the community. However, a more detailed inspection reveals there are many negatives, and any positive effects are just wishful thinking.

To begin with, service learning wouldn’t benefit the students’ education. Indeed, many students would be unable to volunteer in their field. This negates any argument that service learning would help the students’ education. While there may be specific cases where a student with a practical major could benefit from volunteering their efforts, this would simply be a positive indirect effect. Not only that, but in many cases such students are already effectively volunteering their time in the form of unpaid internships. If schools wish students to volunteer in such a manner they should be working with charities to establish more voluntary internships. However, as soon as students are forced to volunteer for the sake of volunteering, it no is longer about helping the student.

One has to ask: why it is exclusively schools that would take up this forced volunteer work? If it was really a needed benefit to s...

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...he community. The only justification for having the students do the work themselves is a sense of civic duty. Unfortunately, by forcing the students to do the work, any positive sense of civic duty will be offset by negative emotions from being forced. A better way to gain the desired sense of civic duty is through additional education that addresses the problems and their causes. In the end, the idea of mandatory service learning doesn’t make sense.

Works Cited:

Bringle, Robet G. and Julie A. Hatcher. “Implementing Service Learning in Higher Educations” (Excerpt). Journal of Higher Education 67.2 (1996): 221-223. Print.

Caret, Robert L. “Local Students Serve as They Learn.” The Examiner. 20 September 2007. Web. 9 Sept. 2008.

Egger, John B. “service 'Learning' Reduced Learning.” The Examiner, 2 October 2007. Web. 9 Sept. 2008.

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