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For Students

Congratulations on your decision to participate in Service Learning!

Service learning is benefitial in the following ways:

  • Applying course material to real-world situations 
  • Making a difference in the world around you
  • Increasing ties to the community
  • Networking within a field you may want to enter
  • Exploring career choices
  • Learning about diverse populations
  • Increasing a sense of social and civic responsibility
  • Gaining experience for your resume

Instructions for making a placement

1. Browse approved sites  

There are over 300 approved partner sites located throughout the county where students can perform their service learning hours. Visit the Service Learning & Internship Placement Database to browse these sites.  Be sure sites align with your class. Your instructor may have specific sites preselected for you.  For help navigating the site, view the database instructions

2. Schedule interviews with sites

You will need to inquire if prospective sites have an opportunity that meets your hour requirement and learning objectives. Review the Service Learning Introductory Script/Guide for tips on contacting sites.  

3. Submit your placement

It is important that you formalize your placement on the database for a variety of reasons. 1) We must have record of your site placement in order to be in compliance with the University's risk and safety requirements. 2) Your submission provides proof to your instructor that you have selected a placement for the course.  And 3) It helps the campus track the impact Service Learning has on the community. 

Frequently Asked Questions for Students

What is service learning?
Service learning brings to life the subject matter of a course by involving students in some "real world" activity directly related to what is being learned. Several courses at CSUSM include service learning as part of the learning process; in fact, this is becoming a popular way to learn at many colleges and universities.

How is service learning different from volunteerism? Or Internships and Field Education?
While volunteerism is geared toward the advantage of the community, community service learning also requires that the student reflect on and learn from the service being performed. Thus, the student as well as the community receives the "benefits" of the activity. While internships or field placements tend to focus solely on student learning, community service learning emphasizes the advantages to both the student and the recipient of the service activity (Furco 1996). Service learning focuses on both the service the community needs and the instructor's learning objectives: both the community needs and the student's learning needs are met.

How do I find a site?
You can view a complete list of approved sites on the Service Learning and Internship Database.  If you need assistance in selecting a site, contact our office by emailing servicelearning@csusm.edu or calling 760-750-4055.

How much time do students spend in the community?
It varies, but it will be sufficient time for your professor to consider the service project to account for anywhere between 10-30% of the grade.

What if my organization is not on the community agency database?
Service Learning can only be performed at sites which have a current University partnership agreement. All approved sites are reflected on the Service Learning & Internship database.  Therefore students must select a Service Learning site from the database. Sometimes new agencies are added, but only if the agency offers a unique learning opportunity that does not already exist on the database and a professor is interested in committing to a 5-year partnership. Contact the Office of Service Learning Ambassadors for assistance with selecting a placement site.

Can I perform service hours at my place of employment?
Service learning needs to address an important community need and contribute to your achieving your course objectives. Job assignments may not be compatible with course learning needs. Performing service at another agency offers the opportunity to expose you to new situations and experiences. Overall, we strongly encourage you to serve at another agency.

Can I begin my service project before the course begins?
Service learning is a tool to help you learn course material; therefore, it is typically required that the service occurs during the duration of the course while you are studying the course content.

Is the agency I interview with obligated to accept me?
No. Your interview is like a job interview! Several factors play a role in a good match: course goals and objectives, schedules, position availability, the agency's needs, the skills and learning interests you bring, etc.

What if things don't work out at the organization after I begin my service?
Speak with your site supervisor immediately. Discuss the matter with the organization's volunteer coordinator, if there is one, and explore other available opportunities at the organization. If nothing is possible, talk with your instructor and then with the Office of Service Learning for help with a change of settings. Time is of the essence; do not let things drag on, because not getting the experience you need will impact your performance in the course.

Do I need to keep a timesheet?
Your instructor may require that you log your hours on a timesheet. This timesheet is for your instructor and is not collected by the Office of Service Learning.

Service Learning & Internship Placement Database

Database Instructions

Timesheet Template

Need additional assistance?  Visit with our Service Learning student ambassadors. 

Craven Hall 6124
servicelearning@csusm.edu
760-750-4055