Studies from service organizations on campus show that students’ GPAs increase through service, though that’s just one of its many benefits.
Luckily, there are many service opportunities available to students to help achieve success. With so many to choose from, there’s always a way to serve that fits within students’ other time commitments.
BYUSA and Y-Serve are the two main organizations on campus that offer a wide variety of service opportunities for students. While they may seem similar to some, both organizations focus on different communities.
Jessica Godfrey, executive vice president of BYUSA, said BYUSA focuses on the student community, rather than the local community.
“BYUSA is a student service association where students serve students and have the opportunity to give back to BYU,” Godfrey said. “It is similar to a student government but it is all service based.”
Y-serve, on the other hand, focuses on the local, non-campus community and is made up of students volunteering throughout Provo with the disabled, homeless and elderly, to name a few.
Both organizations have booths at New Student Orientation and use other methods, such as events or presentations in honors classes, to help students get involved. However, according to Godfrey, the best way is to come in and get a tour.
With so many opportunities to serve, an increased GPA is only one of many other benefits students can gain from volunteering their time.
In fact, service has proven to positively influence students in five distinct areas, according to Casey Peterson, director of the Center for Service and Learning.
“There are five reasons why students serve,” Peterson said. “Academic, leadership, recognition, spiritual and social.”
This is where GPAs come in. According to Peterson, students who serve, whether on or off campus, will do better academically.
“Studies show the more [students] serve, the more their GPA increases,” Peterson said.
Peterson said the students who volunteer in various capacities often discover the areas of study they love. More interest in the subject matter could be part of why their GPAs increase.
Both BYUSA and Y-Serve offer opportunities for students to lead other students in service projects, fulfilling one of the aims of a BYU education: “leading to lifetime learning and service.”
According to Peterson, service leadership is one of the best kinds because students have to learn to lead volunteers.
“[Service leadership] is a deeper form of leadership,” Peterson said.
He continued, explaining that leaders can’t rely on wages and employment benefits for motivation because those they are leading are volunteers. Therefore, they have to learn to motivate in other ways.
This area relates to a student’s ability to define him or herself as unique from those around them.
“Everyone can have a good GPA or test score,” Peterson said. “But [service] sets students apart.”
For most students, increase of spirituality is the most obvious influence of service. However, it is just as important as the less-obvious ones.
“It gives students a spiritual component outside of Sunday,” Peterson said. “It turns selfishness into selflessness.”
According to Peterson, service is one of the best ways to make friends. Especially when living in unfamiliar surroundings.
“Service drops barriers,” Peterson said. ‘When you focus on other people, you’re not worried about what you look like or what you act like so you can create new friendships.”
Regardless of the personal benefits of serving, Godfrey said service is more about giving back.
“We are so blessed,” Godfrey said. “Tithing dollars are spent on us to be able to gain an education. It is important to get involved because giving back is a great way to help make the transition from high school to college a little easier as you make new friends and contribute to something greater than yourself.”