The pandemic has touched everything; every industry, every career, and every news story.
Though nearly everyone in the world is figuring out how to cope and how to move forward with their lives, it’s a particularly difficult question for college students, especially undergraduate students.
For college students in 2021, their options depend on where they live and the degree of restrictions they face. Some parts of the US, like Texas and Florida, have already begun to reopen, while states like New York continue to enforce stay-at-home orders.
Even in Texas, there’s no guarantee your school will decide to reopen classrooms. Many institutions and school districts are making that decision unilaterally based on the information and circumstances of their communities.
But no matter where you are, there are probably more options available than you realize. And even if it might take another few months or even a year before certain volunteer or study abroad options become available again, there’s no reason not to start planning now
If you’re a college student considering a gap year, for example, whether volunteering or working, the realities of that choice are going to be different now than they were a year ago. But there are still options.
If you’re already enrolled in school, your first move should be to contact your university and enquire about options for volunteer work. More than likely, your school has an Office for Service Learning, or a similarly-named office geared toward helping students find opportunities to serve their local community.
You can try sites like Save the Student. They can help you find options for volunteering or working, either locally or abroad.
Another option is to find a remote internship. Start Me Up Careers provides the opportunity to get experience in many different fields, including technology, social enterprise, and conservation.
The viability of many volunteer opportunities is still impossible to gauge with any certainty. But when the world does finally reopen, those student volunteers are going to be needed more than ever before.
Even now, there are still ways to volunteer that directly aid efforts to fight COVID-19 and help the people who suffer the most from the pandemic.
Although WE Charity, one of the biggest charities in Canada, was forced to suspend many of its operations in 2020, one of its biggest initiatives is WEcollege, which built colleges in developing countries around the world.
The WE Schools and WE Teachers programs offered at WE Charity have always focused on getting volunteers to bring equity, diversity, and inclusion.
You could also work for food banks, which in the U.S., U.K., and many other countries are working overtime to fill greater needs than ever before.
Another option is to join a group of volunteer responders, people who help frontline health care workers. People around the world have a renewed understanding of the vital work of these often underpaid and overworked healthcare workers.
Many cities and states have their own local volunteer initiatives to help the people that are helping all of us. If you’re unsure where to start, you can try VolunteerMatch.org, which has compiled a list of many of these options.
There’s also the Coronavirus Tutoring Initiative, a UK-based program that allows you to help others while using your academic skills. The program connects students with at-risk and low-income students who need help, providing free remote tutoring in several different areas.
Whatever you choose, remember that you have options. Many charitable organizations do not.