The connection between gas prices, grades and giving back

What do gas prices and grades have in common? Both are going through a period of inflation. Inflation works on the economic principle of demand—meaning that when the demand of a good goes up (or stays the same) while its supply stays the same (or goes down), the “price” of that of good rises. In the case of gas, constant or rising demand coupled with constant or declining supplies has lead to an increase in gas prices, or commodity inflation. And in the case of grades, the academic requirements to get into most universities and colleges have risen considerably, in part as a response to significantly higher application rates, known as credential inflation. In some cases, depending on how specialized a program is, or in the case of on-campus living, how popular a university residence is, competition to get accepted can be fierce.

Although getting good grades in high school has traditionally been the best way for young people to ensure that they are accepted into the post-secondary institution and program of their choice, these days good grades might not be enough. Getting involved in extra-curricular activities such as after school sports or mastering a musical instrument can be one way that your teen can stand out from their peers and get noticed by admissions committees. Volunteering is another way that your teen can become more appealing to top schools and programs.

Paying it forward

Credential inflation has created the need for high school students to demonstrate something beyond academic performance to stand out. While getting good grades, and even extra-curricular activities, are a good start, volunteering can also be a way for young people to get noticed. The ability to juggle academic performance with non-academic volunteer activities that benefit the community can really help your teen stand out from their peers and gain entry into their school of choice.

Volunteering can include anything from unpaid job internships to more socially responsible, philanthropic volunteer activities like working with senior citizens or underprivileged children, cleaning up local parks and neighbourhoods, and or helping at humanitarian organizations like the Red Cross and the Salvation Army. With summer around the corner, this is a great time to encourage your teen to get involved in some volunteer work during their time off. In addition to enhancing their university or college applications, your teen will benefit in other, unexpected ways that can shape their character and last a lifetime.

The benefits of volunteering for teens

Enhanced university and college applications: Volunteering is an excellent way for your teen to improve their chances of getting accepted to their school of choice. Volunteering experiences let the admissions committee know that your teen has a community outlook, has diverse interests and has the maturity to juggle multiple responsibilities.

Learning new skills and habits: No matter where your teen chooses to volunteer, there is a good chance that they will learn one if not several new skills and habits such as punctuality, multi-tasking, team work and organization.

Meeting like-minded people: Volunteering for a group, organization or association usually takes teens out of their day-to-day routines, opening up possibilities to meet new people that share similar interests, hobbies and goals.

Cultivating compassion: When we engage in volunteer work that helps those less fortunate than ourselves, in addition to helping other people, we tend to develop a sense of gratitude for what we have, and a greater sense of compassion for those who struggle. This type of empathy is a valuable quality in your teen and can help them create nurturing relationships in the future.

Following bliss: Does your teen love animals despite your no-pets-in-the-house rule? How about volunteering at a veterinarian’s office or the zoo? Or maybe your teen is an only child but likes organizing games for young people. Volunteering at a summer camp could be the ideal solution. Engaging in volunteerism can be a way for your teen to enjoy an activity they are passionate about but can’t pursue through a school course or part-time job.

Earning karma credits: Whether you believe in karma or not, as the saying goes, “One good turn deserves another”. By volunteering their time in the community, your teen opens up an infinite number of positive opportunities that could benefit him or her now, or sometime down the road.

Links to volunteer opportunities

Red Cross Canada: Seeks to improve the lives of those in need through the power of human mobilization.

Habitat for Humanity: Mobilizes volunteers and members of the community in building affordable housing and promoting homeownership as a way to break the cycle of poverty.

Volunteer Canada: Volunteer Canada is the national voice for volunteerism in Canada since 1977.