No, high school students should not be required to volunteer in community service projects. I do feel that community service is an important thing, and those who choose to volunteer get satisfaction for helping the greater good. However, requiring community service, in my experience, is not all that beneficial for either party.
Some could argue that students and young people do not have any or much responsibility. This is simply not true. High school and even middle school students can have hours upon hours of homework, and many high school students also have jobs, or extracurricular activites. School, work, and extracurriculars all count as responsibiities, and all are important to the college application process, which also takes time.
I had planned for my community service project to be several weeks spent as a counselor at a summer camp for disadvantaged children. I personally got all of the information, and planned ahead for the meetings during the school year. As a freshman (the first year that I was allowed to begin logging community service hours), I was actually really looking forward to what I had planned out.
My mother then decided to completely ignore my plans, and informed me that I would be working weekends during the school year at the library, and that she did not believe I had really set up any sort of plan whatsoever. Keep in mind, I was a freshman, had spoken to everyone in charge of the program for dates, times, and information, and had planned out my volunteer time so that I could still participate in my extracurricular activites. She told me that I would not be a camp counselor, and would instead be working at the library. This completely stole any sense of responsibility over my own requirements that I had.
Furthermore, working in the library was a terrible experience for me. I live in a small town, and “business” was fairly slow. I was rarely told how to use the register system, which was old, outdated, and needed passwords which I did not have. Even worse, the library staff did not actually need me, and instead played solitaire on their computers while I checked books in and out. I felt that the entire experience was a major waste of time, and was not beneficial for anyone, except for the librarians who did not wish to do any work. Yes, it was easy, and yes, my hours were completed, but no one got anything out of it. Isn’t volunteering supposed to be satisfying, even when it is difficult or trying?
My last point, is that the requirement is not enforced as it is. I live in a state where community service hours are required for graduation from public schools. I attended a private school, which also required hours. The difference was that my hours were logged and double checked with the “mentor” for whom I claimed to be volunteering. No one that I know who graduated from a public school had their hours double checked, and most did not even complete them. In fact, some claim they saw their paperwork and were surprised to see the requirement checked off, while others were told they received volunteer credit for attending class. How is attendance community service?!
Therefore, no, I do not believe that volunteer hours should be required of high school students. In fact, I feel that if community service is to be encouraged, that schools should spend one of their field trips volunteering. This way, the administration can find a project that is mutually beneficial, and students cannot complain about “not having the time”.