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Many schools and postsecondary institutions have established programs that promote, and in some cases require, student community service (Frase 1995; Nolin et al. 1997). Past research has found that students who participate in these programs tend to have stronger ties to school, peers, and the community, as well as a higher exhibition of other positive social behaviors (Nolin et al. 1997; Youniss, McLellan, and Yates 1997; Smith 1999; Metz and Youniss 2003). Given these potential benefits, it is important to understand the characteristics and patterns of volunteering among young adults.
Using data from the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988 (NELS:88), this indicator describes the characteristics of young adults who volunteered. Based on data from the NELS:88 1992 sample of 12th-grade students who were asked about their high school volunteer service for the period 1990-92 and then re-interviewed in 1994 and again in 2000, this indicator also examines whether high school volunteer service was related to volunteering 2 years and 8 years after their scheduled high school graduation.
Young adults as a group were less active as community service volunteers after high school. Volunteering among this 12th-grade cohort declined 25 percent 8 years after high school, in 2000. Forty-four percent of young adults volunteered in high school compared to 33 percent 8 years later (table 1).
|Student Characteristic||Vol. 1990-92||Vol. 1994||Vol. 2000||Vol. 1990-92 and 1994||Vol. 1990-92 and 2000||Vol. 1990-92 only||Vol. 1994 only||Vol. 2000 only||Vol. 1990-92 and 1994 only||Vol. 1990-92 and 2000 only||Consistent Vol. 1990-92, 1994, and 2000||Any Vol. 1990-92, 1994, or 2000||Percent change 1990-92 to 20001|
|Asian/ Pacific Islander||45.7||34.9||26.7||20.4||16.7||18.8||6.3||10.8||10.1||6.4||10.3||66.5||-41.5|
|Native American/ Alaska Native||19.1||39.4||26.6||10.4||4.8||7.4||15.7||22.9||6.9||1.3||3.5||63.8||39.3|
|Middle two quartiles||41.2||35.4||32.9||19.8||16.3||15.1||10.7||9.6||9.8||6.2||10.1||67.4||-20.1|
Individual volunteering patterns showed large variation. While about 68 percent of young adults volunteered at least once in the three survey periods, 12 percent volunteered consistently across all survey periods (figure 1 and table 1).
No difference in the likelihood of volunteering 8 years after graduation was detected between young adults who performed only mandatory volunteer service in high school and students who performed no high school volunteering (28 vs. 26 percent, respectively) (table 2). Both of these groups - mandatory and nonvolunteers - were less likely to volunteer 8 years after high school than persons who were strongly encouraged to volunteer or did it for strictly voluntary reasons (43 percent).
|Student Characteristic||Youth Organizations||Civic/community volunteer||Any volunteering1|
|Native American/Alaska Native||18.5||13.4||26.6|
|Middle two quartiles||20.8||22.5||32.9|
|High school volunteering|
|Strictly voluntary or encouraged3||27.2||29.2||43.0|
Frase, M. (1995). Community Service Performed by High School Seniors (Education Policy Issues: Statistical Perspectives) (NCES 95-743). U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics.
Metz, E., and Youniss, J. (2003). A Demonstration That School-Based Required Service Does Not Deter - but Heightens - Volunteerism. Political Science & Politics, April: 281-286.
Nolin, M.J., Chaney, B., Chapman, C., and Chandler, K. (1997). Student Participation in Community Service Activity (NCES 97-331). U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics.
Smith, E. (1999). The Effects of Investments in the Social Capital of Youth on Political and Civic Behavior in Young Adulthood: A Longitudinal Analysis. Political Psychology, 20: 553-580.
Youniss, J., McLellan, J., and Yates, M. (1997). What We Know About Engendering Civic Identity. American Behavioral Scientist, 40: 620-631.