Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Q: Am I required to do service as a student at St. Thomas?
A. That depends on your major and involvement! For example, all Business majors complete 40 hours of service at an organization of their choice in order to complete their Business 200 graduation requirement. If you are a member of a registered student club or organization, you must serve 1.5 hours per semester in order for the group to remain in good standing and eligible for USG club funding. All Law students complete a public service requirement before graduating. You may be in a designated service-learning course, meaning a community-based learning component outlined by the professor is incorporated into the required coursework. Or perhaps you have been awarded a scholarship or award that requires service hours or community involvement, such as those from the Page Education Foundation.
Q. Are there any restrictions on the type of nonprofit organization I choose for my service-hours?
A. If you are a Page Scholar, you may fulfill your serve-hours at any nonprofit organization that is NOT faith-based.
Q. What is Course-Based Service-Learning? Do I have to take one of these to graduate?
A. Academic service-learning is a teaching and learning strategy involving a reciprocal relationship between the Universty and a community partner in which academic coursework and reflection are intergrated with meaningful civic engagement; it is designed to enhance your experience as a student and to encourage you to be a socially responsible leader in your community. Students are not required to take a service-learning course, however, should a professor incorporate a service-learning component into their course curriculum, you will be required by your professor to complete the service-learning portion of the class in order to receive class credit.
Q. Do I get credit for service?
A. If you are enrolled in a course with a service-learning component, then you would receive credit for your service efforts. If you are a Page Scholar, you will need complete at least 50-hours of community service to fulfill the scholarship requirements. If you are a Business 200 major, you must complete 40-hours of community service in order to receive your degree. Some other academic departments require a certain amount of clinical work, field experience, service, or an internship for their majors, including Graduate Psychology, Social Work, Criminal Justice, Justice and Peace Studies, and Law. Speak with an advisor in your department or Academic Counseling to find out specifics for your area(s) of study, and contact Career Development for internship postings.
Remember, the true meaning of volunteer or community service is the act of doing something for someone else without the expectation of receiving something in return.
Q. How do I know if my service-learning course has been designed as a service-learning course?
A. Once you have completed and submitted the SL Designation Form 2013 to Karla Duren, she will review it to ensure that all the criteria has been met. She will then update your course in the Banner System and designate it as service-learning. Designation forms are always due the week before early registration so that UST students are fully aware of the designation.
Q. What if I don't get my SL form turned in on time?
A. You must notify all your incoming students that your course has a service-learning component to it. If you turn the designation form in too late, you run the risk of not having your course designated in time for the designation to show up on your students' transcripts meaning they will not get any credit for service hours.
Q. How can I get help identifying a community partner to work with?
A. Call the office or email Alex Hamel or Eric McCloskey and set up an appointment to come in for a consultation. We have several organizations that we currently work with that we may be able to partner you with or we can explore a brand new partnership together.
Q. Do I need to submit my class syllabus everytime I designate my course for service-learning?
A. For faculty teaching the same course and repeating the same service-learning student project experience, you do not need to submit your syllabus for review. You do, however, need to submit an updated designation form to the office. For faculty who are incorporating a service-learning project to a new course, a copy of the syllabus should be sent to CSLCE office for review and approval. Any faculty new to the service-learning pedagogy and implementing SL for the first time MUST submit a copy of their class syllabus for review and approval by the Designation Subcommittee team. Please feel free to send your syllabus to ServiceLearn@stthomas.edu.
Q. Are my students required to do reflections as part of the service-learning experience?
A. Yes. Student reflections can be done in different formats. You may decide to have your students keep journal entries of their SL experiences as part of the credit for the course. You may ask your students to attend a "Reflections Session" hosted by the CSLCE office. You may ask your students share their experiences during class time. Whichever format you decide to direct your students to, it is important that your students take time to reflect on what they are learning in the classroom and how it applies to their service in the community.
Q. Does my service-learning project have to be done at the organization's site?
A. Generally, yes. Your students should be engaged in the community in an effort to better understand the organizations' functions, clients, and/or stakeholders. There are exceptions and you should consult with CSLCE staff if your service-learning project requires in class only involvement.
Q. How should we prepare our students for service in the community?
A. We advise that you take time in your classroom to provide your students with an orientation presented by your community partner so that students know who they will be serving and what to expect when they begin their service-learning project. Our office can help coordinate and support student orientations.
Q. How can we get our volunteer and service opportunities posted around your campus?
A. You can submit a posting opportunity to our CEN database by setting up a profile for your organization. Our office will review your submission to ensure it meets the guidelines and policies of the University of St. Thomas. Upon approval, your posting will appear in the database for both faculty and students to review and consider.