6 Approaches To Working With Volunteers Who Are College Students

College was a great time for me to explore who I was and who I wanted to be. I was heavily involved in all sorts of programs. I was heavily involved in my campus ministry program leading many retreats, helping with every aspect of liturgy, and aiding the sacramental preparation programs.

But campus ministry was just one piece of my college experience. I was an orientation leader, I led campus tours, I joined a service organization who’s sole task was to do community service, and I joined a fraternity and helped in many different leadership roles.

I volunteered for everything! In the process, I learned a ton about myself.

In this continuing blog series, we are exploring the differences in age groups as they volunteer (or don’t volunteer) for your ministry. Today’s post is exploring college students as volunteers.

If my personal experience of being in college is any indication, college students are very likely to volunteer. I continue to find that college students are overwhelmingly excited about helping me in my ministry. For that, I am grateful.

Working with college students as volunteers is a wonderful experience for me. Here are a few things that I have learned about working with college students as volunteers:

  • They are optimistic. Maybe overly optimistic. Just like teenagers, they truly believe they can change the world. This is good news for you and me in ministry. Because they have this optimistic view of the world, they are likely to volunteer. Maybe even volunteer too much! Because of that…
  • Help them determine their limits. College students are still learning good time and calendar management. They are not always good with their time. Now is a great time to give them some skills that will help them decide if they can truly commit the time to the volunteer role. Sometimes, this means helping them say no to the opportunity. But, because they don’t say “no” when they need to…
  • They don’t always follow through. That’s okay. Expect a little bit of that with your college volunteers. They have a million other things going on, especially school and their very important social life. However, let them know that they didn’t follow through and help them realize that when they commit to something, they need to follow through. That leads us to the following…
  • Raise the standards. They are becoming more independent and they consider themselves adults. Let them do more than they would have ever been able to do in high school. Give them more responsibility. As you do that, you will need to…
  • Be intentional with helping them grow. Evaluate their performance as a volunteer and help them grow. Because they are in a ripe learning time in their lives, they are learning new things about who they are all the time. Be a mentor to them, not just about the ministry, but for life in general. They will appreciate you coming along side of them on this journey of life.
  • Want them to volunteer? Just ask them. They’ll likely say yes.

Question: What has been your experience working with volunteers who are college students?

John Rinaldo

As the Business Manager at St. Catherine Catholic Church in Morgan Hill, CA, Dr. John Rinaldo serves as the administrator over operations and finances for the parish in support of all parish ministries. Previously, John served as the Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the Diocese of San Jose, empowering parish communities to minister to the needs of youth and young adults. John is also an adjunct professor at Santa Clara University teaching pastoral ministry courses to graduate students.


John Rinaldo


As the Business Manager at St. Catherine Catholic Church in Morgan Hill, CA, Dr. John Rinaldo serves as the administrator over operations and finances for the parish in support of all parish ministries. Previously, John served as the Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the Diocese of San Jose, empowering parish communities to minister to the needs of youth and young adults. John is also an adjunct professor at Santa Clara University teaching pastoral ministry courses to graduate students.



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