Every IMSA student is required to get 200 service hours in order to graduate. The number seems high; it is 67 hours a year and nearly 6 hours a month! However, even if you haven’t even thought about service hours yet, don’t worry. You still have plenty of time. Unless you’re a senior.
First, let’s go through a quick rundown of the service hour rules. The main ones you need to know are these:
- At least 30 hours must be internal service hours (hours that serve the IMSA community).
- At least 75 hours must be external service hours (hours that serve people outside the IMSA community).
- No more than 50 hours can be completed outside of Illinois.
- Your parents and siblings cannot be your supervisor.
- You cannot get paid for your work.
If you want to retain all your privileges, you’ll probably need around 30 hours of service by spring break your sophomore year. You’ll definitely need 100 by spring break junior year and all 200 by spring break senior year.
That’s a lot, but not to worry. IMSA provides plenty of service opportunities for its students that can get you more service hours than you know what do with — provided you put in the work, of course. While this list will be far from exhaustive, below are some of the programs IMSA offers to help its students get service hours.
For All Students:
- Allies. While Allies has already started this year, they’re always looking for new people to get involved. Funshops and other opportunities to prepare curriculum and material occur throughout the year. Besides workshops, Summer at IMSA is a weeklong camp for kids entering grades 3-9 that occurs about five or six times during the summer. There are camps at IMSA where you can stay on campus, but they also need Allies who can commute to Springfield and Belleville. If you volunteer, you might be a group leader, a teacher, or running logistics. You can earn up to 60 hours for just one week!
- Green Ambassadors. Green Ambassadors is a new program run by Club Terra that started just last year. You’ll need to apply to be a Green Ambassador (applications will probably go out sometime later this year), and if you get accepted, you will run programs at your local library over the summer. These programs will be tailored for kids from kindergarten to early middle school, and they will aim towards teaching everybody a little about the environment. Before the programs, you’ll be trained and you might even write some of the curriculum.
- Help your teachers. Teachers are busy people and they often need help with something. You can ask your teachers if there’s anything you can do, or teachers will look specifically for students by posting on HelperHelper and/or emailing. As an upperclassmen or second semester sophomore, you might even be able to help with grading problem sets.
- HelperHelper and email. In the new HelperHelper app, miscellaneous service opportunities are often posted. In addition to this, emails are often sent out with requests for everything from swim meet timers to Friday Fest helpers. Be vigilant for these types of emails and check HelperHelper often. If you start now, accumulating a lot of these small opportunities can be a good way to get those 30 hours before spring break sophomore year!
- Peer Tutoring. Anybody can apply to be a peer tutor at the end of their sophomore or junior year. As a peer tutor, you’ll be required to be available for two hours of tutoring a week, where you’ll help other students with anything from MI 2 to American Studies. Within the peer tutoring system, you can apply for many different positions, from hall tutor to main building tutor. Whatever you do, it’s a great way to help your underclassmen and get some service hours along the way.
- Writing Center Tutor. If one of your teachers thinks you have some good essays, they might nominate you to be a Writing Center Tutor! If you get nominated, there’s still an application process, where about 50% of nominees get accepted. As a Writing Center Tutor, you have to work at least one hour a week in the writing center, either during your free mods or right after school. You’ll help students from all grades to refine their ideas, their essays, and their writing in general.
- Student Computing Services (SCS). SCS helps students with their computer woes. As an SCS member, you’ll get trained to handle many common computer problems. You’ll also have early move-in, when you’ll help all the sophomores and then the upperclassmen in setting up their computers so that they can connect to airimsa and the printers.
- LEAD Facilitator. Adoring LEAD? Even if you enjoy it a little bit, you might be interested in applying to be a LEAD facilitator. A rigorous application process provides only a glimpse into what is to come — LEAD facilitation is a big commitment, and it’s not one to be taken lightly. If you still think you’d love to teach some sophomores about leadership and you show this loud and clear to the people who are considering your application, you’ll earn a spot on IMSA’s LEAD team and earn a ton of service hours while doing so.Wing Guide. Similarly to LEAD facilitator, being a wing guide is a big commitment. It can be a rewarding job, though, as you’ll help create an awesome community for upperclassmen and sophomores alike. You’ll have early move-in, where you’ll decorate the wing and welcome the new sophomores. Then, you’ll spend the year creating programs, keeping wing spirit up, and looking out for the entire wing. If you’re interested in becoming a Community Developer (CD) your senior year, then being an amazing wing guide is a great first step.
So you have some service hours, but what do you do with them? This year, IMSA has switched to the HelperHelper app, which will let you input your service hours online. If you’d like to get some service hours for something you didn’t complete through the HelperHelper app, go to the menu and select “Add Past Commitment.” Then simply fill out the form. If you have any questions about how to fill it out, you can direct them to Alexandria Johnson (firstname.lastname@example.org). Good luck with your service hours! We know you can do it.
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