You may be asking, “Why am I getting credit for volunteering??” One thing to keep in mind is that you are not getting credit for the hours you spend working with an organization. Rather, you are receiving credit for the learning connected to your community experience. Typical community service does not involve an intentional academic component! Service-learning is not merely community service, where the focus is on the service provided and neither is it simply about learning. Equal weight is given to the learning AND the serving. You are being asked to broaden and deepen your understanding of topics covered in the classroom through service-learning activities, where your community experience is your textbook. Unless you are able to demonstrate understanding of the connections between your community experience, lectures and course texts to the course concepts in an acceptable way to your instructor, you will not get credit for your work.

Three things to remember:

  1. Reflect, reflect, reflect! Reflection – the intentional thinking about and analyzing the practical field experience – is what sets service-learning apart from simply another volunteer activity and is what helps you learn and grow from the experience.
  2. Get out and get involved in the community! It’s a great way to do something meaningful with your time, meet new people, boost your resume and gain practical experience and marketable skills for future jobs, and have fun – whether it’s for a course, or on your own. Check out the Service-Learning Courses and Activities for ways to get involved.
  3. Approach your service-learning experience as you would a paid job, even though it may be short-term and unpaid – be reliable and on time, respect policies, respect confidentiality and healthy boundaries with the clients and staff at your site placement, and inform your on-site supervisor at least 24 hours in advance when possible if you are unable to attend as scheduled.

The CALL Center can help:

  • provide assistance in making arrangements with community organizations and matching you with volunteer opportunities that meet your needs and interests
  • make available resources on service-learning, civic engagement, and social/environmental justice (check out Resources page)
  • provide a listening ear and help you process and reflect on your experiences – the Service-Learning Office works as a team with your instructor!
  • answer your questions
  • provide all needed forms (see below)
  • help you to develop any new ideas for projects, activities, events, or programs