What are the reasons to volunteer abroad for college students? Well, to gain a well-rounded education, you need to leave the classroom. Beyond those four walls, you will find different perspectives, be inspired to learn about new cultures, languages and ways of thinking - all of which will shape your own mindset, ambitions and entire life. So whether you are looking to add to your resume, or push yourself outside of your comfort zone, volunteering abroad is a decision that will stand you in good stead for the rest of your life.
Whether you’re looking for summer volunteer programs for college students, or winter break opportunities, there’s a powerful experience waiting for you. Volunteering abroad as a college student will have a profound impact not only on you, but also the community you work within. When you volunteer abroad with IVHQ, our local team will ensure you are matched to a placement which will allow you to make a valuable contribution to your host community, while you work alongside local people and other international volunteers. IVHQ offer international volunteer programs for college students in over 45+ countries. In each country, college students can participate on a diverse range of meaningful projects and with 250+ project options in total, the opportunities are endless.
- Why are service trips for college students important?
- How many students volunteer abroad with IVHQ?
- Six ways to incorporate volunteering into your studies
- When can I volunteer abroad as a student?
- How to find the best service trips for college students?
- NGO service trips for college students
- Teaching volunteer opportunities for college students
- Medical and Healthcare volunteering for college students
- Childcare project volunteer trips for college students
- Environment & Conservation service trips for college students
- Volunteering abroad and gaining course credits
Why are service trips for college students important?
When we asked our volunteers how the experience of volunteering abroad impacted them, 83 percent said their sense of perspective had changed, while 94 percent agreed that volunteering abroad had made them more resilient, and 44 percent strongly agreed that their career aspirations had changed for the better. To find out more about how volunteering abroad will impact you, read Why Should I Volunteer Abroad?.
Volunteering overseas as an undergraduate, you can use the time abroad to complement your studies, grow your resume and gain hands-on experience in your chosen field. But more importantly, you’ll be using your break to make a positive difference in communities in-need. Experiencing volunteer work abroad will make you more open-minded, improve your understanding of the world, let you experience cultural immersion first-hand, build your language skills and even change the course of your life!
As a college student arriving at your volunteer program, you will quickly forge a bond with the other international volunteers as you roll up your sleeves together and get stuck into your project, while traveling in your downtime and sharing plenty of laughs in between. Many of our college student volunteers travel independently, pushing them out of their comfort zone and growing their confidence. Remember, while you may be traveling solo, you will never actually be alone, and many of your fellow volunteers will become friends for life. You’ll also form strong connections with the local people you’ll be supporting and working with at your volunteer placement.
If you are looking for an opportunity to grow your career and don’t think that volunteering is the right option for you then consider an internship. Intern Abroad HQ provides flexible and affordable internship opportunities with clearly outlined learning objectives for professional development.
How many students volunteer abroad with IVHQ?
In the last year, 5,000+ college students have volunteered abroad with IVHQ. This means you can set off knowing that you will have a meaningful travel experience, as you are immersed in the local culture and have the opportunity to spend your weekends exploring with like-minded students.
We take the hassle out of the process by arranging your airport pick-up, accommodation, meals and orientation, and provide you with access to Volunteer Travel Expert and 24/7 in-country support. And yes, your parents can even give us a call and we can chat through the ins and outs of your volunteer abroad program.
Six ways to incorporate volunteering into your studies….
- Use the program to gain course credit (by enrolling in our Spanish Service Learning courses, or getting approval from an advisor to do so)
- Use your experience as the basis/subject for independent study, or your thesis
- Use the program as an internship, or to boost your resume
- Use the program for an alternative break. Consider winter, spring, or summer volunteer programs for college students
- Volunteer as a group with your student organization
- Use the program to satisfy community service hour requirements for a scholarship or membership…
When can I volunteer abroad as a student?
Volunteer trips for college students are available year-round; however, if you want to align a volunteer abroad program with your study break, you can take an alternative spring or winter break with IVHQ. An alternative break means you will be contributing to a meaningful project, meeting people from across the globe and exploring a new country! Check out our recommended programs for alternative winter breaks, or alternative spring breaks.
We also have customized 1-week and 2-week alternative break programs available in Guatemala, Costa Rica, Peru and Romania. These programs incorporate the perfect mix of volunteering, cultural immersion and tourism activities and have been designed by our Groups Specialists and local teams to ensure that you are making a positive impact in a short space of time. Whether you are looking to sign up as an individual or with a friend, you will not be alone on one of these small group tours. If you want to learn more about any of these alternative break programs and find out how to sign up, get in touch with our Groups team here.
Summer service trips for college students are another awesome option! Summer is 93 days long, that’s 2232 hours, or 133, 920 minutes - that’s a lot of opportunities to make a difference! How are you going to spend your next summer break?
How to find the best service trips for college students?
As with school, when it comes to volunteering abroad, research is important! You need to research the program and project you wish to volunteer on to ensure it’s going to be the right fit for you. We recommend that when choosing your volunteer project, you consider your skills and what is motivating you to volunteer abroad and let this guide your research.
With 45+ destinations and 250+ volunteer projects to choose from, there is an opportunity to suit all educational backgrounds with IVHQ. And, remember that the more you know about the program, the better prepared you can be and the more meaningful your time abroad will be for both you, and the community that you are immersed in. We’ve highlighted some of our most popular international volunteer opportunities for college students, so keep reading to find the perfect program for you…
NGO service trips for college students
NGO Support projects are perfect for students looking to combine volunteer travel with an internship, as working for an NGO will look great on your academic transcript and resume. Those potential employers will be more than impressed. You can head all over the world assisting NGOs in need with IVHQ in Cambodia, Italy and [New Zealand] just to name a few destinations. Volunteering as a student on a NGO Support project is the perfect opportunity to use your experience and knowledge gained from your studies to support and further establish an NGO’s goals and community reach. Your tasks can vary and are dependent on the unique skills that you can bring to the table. These tasks can include administration, research, proposal writing, teaching English and IT.
- How much? Participate on NGO Support in Cambodia for USD$675 for 5 weeks
- What’s included? In Cambodia, for example, all meals are included in the program fee, as well as airport pick-up and 24/7 in-country support
- Must haves… Laptop, copies of your resume, an open mind and hard-working ethic
Volunteering abroad has been one of the most important choices I have ever made in my life. It changed my life forever; I want to work with NGO’s more in the future. People often ask, “Why work for free? You don’t get anything”. I respond with, “Try it yourself and you will realize that you get a LOT. You get something that cannot be described by words. Marton Mengerink - Working with NGOs in Vietnam - Hanoi
Teaching volunteer opportunities for college students
Education is universal and the scope for volunteers’ influence goes far beyond the classroom. When volunteering on Teaching projects with IVHQ, you will have the opportunity to either teach independently or provide assistance and support to the local educator in traditional classrooms, community centers, tutoring programs or special needs centers. Students from the communities in which you will work are eager to participate and learn, whether it’s English, other curriculum, sports, or arts and crafts. To a university student, teaching abroad can be a learning curve that generates greater confidence, independence and understanding. Supplement your university studies and get prepped for Teaching English abroad by signing up to an online TEFL Course.
- How much? You can teach in Romania for as little as USD$370 for 1 week
- What’s included? Romania, for example, airport pick-up, all meals and accommodation, not to mention the 24/7 in-country support!
- Must haves… Good chat, ability to persevere and be patient
- Not compulsory, but helpful… TEFL Certification, available at a discounted rate through IVHQ
My time was definitely appreciated and it made me feel happy to know my students learned something from me. This was my first time working as a teacher, it was amazing to see my students learn from me everyday, and it made me realize that I am needed and I can actually do something to make changes. This was a great experience, and I will definitely do it again. Ruobing Pan - Teaching in Sri Lanka
Medical and Healthcare volunteering for college students
Volunteers taking part in Medical and Healthcare projects aid in treating and educating patients, providing basic checkups and treatment to members of the community. The communities where our volunteers assist are appreciative of the expertise, positivity and kindhearted nature of our volunteers.
Thousands of medical students turn to International Volunteer HQ to organize their medical electives abroad - not only will you have the opportunity to learn about medicine as a global entity and experience new cultures, healthcare systems, technologies and see different conditions, you’ll be living and working alongside other international volunteers, and have the opportunity to travel with them during your free time.
For a medical group, volunteering abroad provides the ability to gain valuable experience and learning opportunities, and can even count towards course credit or service hour requirements!
As a group it was very easy to navigate IVHQ’s information to find the best fit for us. When we arrived in Guatemala, the on-site staff provided a unique volunteer experience for our group by setting up medical campaigns in different communities. Because of this, we were able to assist several community efforts while gaining multiple perspectives on Guatemalan healthcare system, which was one of the major goals of our trip as an engineering healthcare student organization. While volunteering, I reaffirmed my passion for working with communities on improving healthcare; it was really inspiring to see the work the in-country team was doing. Erik Thomas - Leader of the University of Michigan - HEAL (Health Engineered for All Lives) Group in Guatemala
Childcare project volunteer trips for college students
Volunteers on Childcare projects provide assistance in a range of placements and environments, ranging from after-school programs, day care centers, orphanages and community centers. As a university student, you have the opportunity to be involved with various duties to support the functioning of these centers, that will in turn assist in your personal and professional development. Duties can include, educational support, playing games, mentoring, providing attention, cooking, cleaning and assisting with general daily operations. Duties are dependent on the specific placement but the most important aspect is supplying the children with care, attention and love. So long as you come in with an open mind and heart, you will come out the other end with more than experience for your resume.
- How much? Get involved with Childcare in India - Delhi from just USD$250 for 1 week
- What’s included? In India - Delhi, for example, accommodation and all meals are included in the program fee, not to forget the airport pick up and 24/7 in-country support is included also!
- Extra add-ons… Become fully immersed in the culture by participating in the one week language and culture orientation, finish the week with a magical visit to the Taj Mahal - amazing, and for just USD$320, which includes accommodation and meals
- Must haves… A big heart, a brain full of songs to sing and everlasting kindness
I chose this particular project because the description mentioned something along the lines of, how these kids/people really just need some love and attention. And for sure, that’s exactly what they needed. It was perfectly suited to what I was hoping to get out of it. It was genuinely worthwhile for the community, I can’t encourage others to do this one project. Because I personally care about those residents now and want them to have more volunteers spending time with them! Though it sounds cliche, I was inspired by the kids themselves. They’re so happy to see you and they genuinely appreciate you and your presence, even knowing you won’t stay. Volunteers just need to go in there and open themselves up; they won’t be disappointed. Laura Cook - Childcare in China
Environment and Conservation Projects
IVHQ’s Environment and Conservation projects work with a range of different causes, ranging from Turtle Conservation in Bali to Marine Conservation in Madagascar. These projects will be right up your alley if you don’t mind mucking in, getting your hands dirty and being challenged. Duties and tasks vary majorly as it is dependent on seasons, the type of project you choose, as well as the needs of the placement at that time. For university students, this is ideal if you are studying toward a scientific or environmental-based degree, the hands-on experience is priceless and will look epic on your transcript! Available in destinations all over the world, you are seriously spoilt for choice.
- How much? Get your hands dirty on Wildlife Conservation in Victoria Falls from USD$880 for 2 weeks
- What’s included? Breakfast, lunch and dinner, accommodation, orientation, airport pick-up and 24/7 support is included in the program fee
- Must haves… Maybe some gardening gloves, keen attitude to hard work and a camera to capture the epic landscapes and ‘Big 5’ animals.
I had the best six weeks of my life on this program. I made the most incredible friends from all over the World and had an amazing time. The program gave me more then I could have imagined in my wildest dreams. I learned so much about wildlife, conservation and ecology. The work is very enjoyable……just get completely stuck in!!! Brendan Comerford - Wildlife Conservation in Victoria Falls
Spanish Service Learning Course
Volunteer abroad and gain course credits!? Where do I sign up?? Right here actually. IVHQ can offer students from around the globe the opportunity to gain course credit toward their education by participating in the Spanish Service Learning Course. Available in Costa Rica, Guatemala and Peru - Cusco, the purpose is to provide you with exposure to local language and culture, broaden your perspective globally and create a sense of community. You will volunteer during the day as per normal, but outside of your volunteer hours you will reflect on the experience of the culture and language, reflect on your culture at home and the role of service learning. University students who are looking to fulfill language course requirements can do so while volunteering abroad in an amazing destination, while learning a new language AND gaining uni credits. Score!
- How much? Add USD$880 to the Costa Rica, Guatemala or Peru - Cusco program fees - the Spanish Service Learning Course fees are paid direct to the IVHQ in-country staff
- What’s included? Costa Rica, for example, program fees cover your orientation, airport pick-up, breakfast and dinner, of course, your accommodation and 24/7 staff support. The Spanish Service Learning Course fees covers all aspects and accreditation of the course.
- Must haves… Thinking cap, standard Spanish phrases at the ready and readiness to participate in workshops
Costa Rica opened my eyes to so many new opportunities I could have if I wanted to and showed me how much love and desire I have to help the Latino culture. Also I fell in love with Spanish and after leaving being able to speak it, I know I will incorporate this into my schooling now! Kelsey Hedberg - Spanish Service Learning Course in Costa Rica
All in all, volunteering for college students is a win-win! You’ll give back to a community that values your support, become more worldly, learn from the world’s best, and tick adventure off your bucket list.
Haven’t seen anything here that sparks your interest, don’t worry… We have plenty more projects to choose from. Have a look at our full range of available volunteer abroad projects.