Volunteering with the Elderly: Job Expectations of College Students

Dongwook Cho, Susan A. Myllykangas, Tyler Tapps, Tim Baghurst


Institutions of higher education support students’ preparation for careers through volunteer service learning experiences. The benefits of volunteer work for college students is well documented, but a limited numbers of studies have examined the consequences of college student volunteer work in the field of aging. The need for gerontological professionals will continue to rise as the rapid growth of the aging population continues. Although colleges and universities offer gerontology or related majors, many students do not consider working with older adults or studying the psychosocial changes that come with age. The current study investigated whether volunteering in the field of aging affected students’ job-related feelings and desire to work with older adults upon graduation. A convenience sample of college students at a large university in a southern city was utilized. The study included 30 participants who volunteered to work with older adults one hour a day for a total of 30 hours. The results revealed that volunteering with older adults positively influenced students’ desire to be employed in gerontological jobs upon graduation but the results were not statistically significant. However, a statistical significance was found with volunteer work positively influencing college students’ job-related feelings toward working with older adults. Therefore, collegiate programmers need to consider how to incorporate experiential activities that include working with elderly populations if students are to alter presupposed opinions regarding gerontological occupations.

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