FAQ’s for Students
What is Service-Learning?
It is a teaching method in which students apply course concepts to real-life experiences that meet a community need. This isn't just volunteerism. It is using experiences in your service project as the basis for learning more about the topics being examined in class, while applying class concepts to your service experience.
What exactly are the requirements for a typical Service-Learning project or a Service-Learning course?
It depends on the class and the faculty member, but generally...
- You will do a minimum twenty hours of service (usually a two-hour block weekly for ten weeks)
- You will keep a Service-Learning journal
- You will be encouraged to share how your service relates to the course during class discussions
Where will I be doing my Service-Learning project?
Each class usually offers a selection of service sites. In most classes you can choose to work with a population or issue that most interests you, for instance: children, the elderly, refugees, persons with disabilities, the environment, and others. Many sites can accommodate busy schedules, families, and transportation limitations.
When will I be able to do my service project?
Start your service no later than the 4th week of the semester and allocate a minimum of 2 hours a week per semester. You must contact your site supervisor immediately to plan your first visit. You will establish a regular weekly time for doing your project in consultation with the site supervisor.
What will I be doing for my service project?
The site supervisors will try to match you with a service experience that relates to the class. Many positions will involve working directly with people, although some will involve working with computers or library research, and others may involve outside physical labor. Your site supervisor will make sure you are comfortable and prepared.
What does community service have to do with a college education?
Plenty. Your Service-Learning experience can enhance the learning of college courses - as long as you apply ideas discussed in class to your service experience. There's a lot that can be learned beyond the walls of a classroom. Many employers are looking for skills that Service-Learning can teach, such as: communication skills, cross-cultural skills, critical-thinking skills, group-work skills, career and work skills, and citizenship/community service skills.
Do you have any advice for a successful experience?
Initiative is important! Contact your site supervisor immediately to schedule your first visit. Be persistent in contacting your site supervisor. Patience is important too! There are ebbs and flows to the work. Some weeks may be hectic, others painfully slow. Learn to roll with the changes.
Be open-minded and try to understand. You'll probably encounter folks who are very different than you. Use this as a learning experience to try to understand where they're coming from. Try to set aside your personal judgments for the moment and really listen to people.
Maintain some boundaries. You're not there to be everyone's best buddy. Personal information (home phone, etc.) is usually best kept to yourself.
Be a student, not an expert. No one expects you to be an expert. They only expect you to be reliable, honest, and respectful.
Give your best effort while you're there. Don't be afraid to seek help from others if you encounter a confusing situation. Be a student and try to learn as much as you can.
Whom do I need to turn in my reflection requirement?
You need to turn in your reflection (essay and/or journal) to your instructor by the time he/she specifies.
If you need to be absent or stop your service, who do you need to notify?
Your site supervisor.
What do I do if the agency does not return your call/email?
If your call/email is not returned within 2 days, call again during business hours. If it is still not returned after 1 week, contact the Center of Service-Learning and Public Service office.
What should I do at the first meeting/interview with the agency?
- Explain your class and its learning goals.
- Discuss about your time commitment, availability, and project deadlines as well as your project’s scope and your ability level.
- Describe your anticipated needs: meeting time, information, regular feedback, evaluation.
- Ask what they need from you: background checks, health tests, training, minimum time commitment.
- Discuss potential risks. Talk about ways to make sure you (and the agency) stay safe.
- Confirm your service plan and responsibilities.
- Fill out the Site Agreement Form, which should be turned in to the Service-Learning office as soon as possible, with your site supervisor.
What if I want to volunteer at a site which is not listed in the Service-Learning directory?
You need to ask your instructor if he/she allows volunteering at that site. Also, you have to inform the Center of Service-Learning and Public Service office to have permission and complete the Community Partners Form which can be picked up at SL office before you start your service there.