Frequently Asked Questions
- How is CSUSM Office of Internships and Service Learning responding to COVID-19?
By continuing to provide quality safe opportunities for our students and community is our main goal.
Our office is:
- Reaching out to community partners to provide resources for creating virtual opportunities.
- Collaborating with faculty to provide digital tools and best practices for online learning.
- Tag remote opportunities for easier search in the database.
- How do I find a service learning opportunity during COVID-19?
The safety of our students and community remain a top priority. We recommend searching for a virtual (remote) service learning. Use the database to search for the key word: “remote” service learning. In addition, we recommend speaking with your course faculty for recommendations on service learning sites appropriate for your course.
- Will there be any new requirements based on COVID-19 for the students on the amount
Faculty determine the number of hours, alternate assignments, etc. Please speak to your course faculty for course specifics in regard to hours, assignments, learning outcomes, etc.
- Due to COVID-19 are there any new guidelines that need to be followed?
What is Service Learning?
- 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, Service Learning also requires that the student reflect on and learn from the service being performed. The student, as well as the community, will receive the "benefits" from the activity. While internships or field placements tend to focus solely on student learning. Service Learning focuses on both the service the community needs and the instructor's learning objectives. Both the communities needs and the student's learning needs will be met.
Finding a Virtual Service Learning Opportunity
- What is a virtual ( remote ) opportunity?
An opportunity that does not require you to be in a specific physical location. The duties and task assigned to you can be completed online or from a virtual location.
For more information about how to search for a virtual ( remote ) opportunity check out our Service Learning information session
- Am I allowed to complete an in-person service learning opportunity?
The safety or our students and community remain a top priority. Many of our community partners in the database are continuing to provide virtual (remote) opportunities. However, many sites are transitioning back to in person, particularly sites involving after school and tutoring programs.
- Due to COVID-19, how can I ensure sites are following safety regulations?
We are working with partners to inform them all in person opportunities must abide by local, county, and federal COVID-19 public health guidelines. As always, continue practicing guidelines that include social distancing measures, wearing masks, washing your hands frequently, and contacting your site supervisor if you feel sick.
- Is it okay to complete my service learning hours with a family member at their organization
they work for or own?
To avoid a conflict of interest, students may not complete their service learning hours for academic credit at an organization where their family member is their supervisor.
Finding a Service Learning Site
- How do I find a Service Learning site?
You can view a complete list of approved sites on the Internship and Service Learning Database.
- How do I use the database?
- What if my organization is not on the database?
Service Learning can only be performed at sites which have an active agreement and are in our database. All approved sites are reflected on the Internship and Service Learning Database. Therefore, students must select a Service Learning site from the database. Only instructors are allowed to submit a Request for a New Community Partner.
- Do I have to complete a Service Learning opportunity & how do I know if a site is
appropriate for my course?
Review your course syllabus. Most course instructors will review detailed information about a service learning or community service project with in the few weeks of the course.
For more information, please consult with your course instructor.
- What do I do after I have found my Service Learning site?
Once you have found your service learning site and have received approval by your course instructor, please follow these steps to make a Service Learning Placement.
- How many hours are Service Learning students required to complete?
Approximately 8-25 hours will be completed.
However this may vary between courses and course instructors. For more information please review your course syllabus.
- Can I begin my Service Learning project before the course begins or use past Service
Learning experiences for my current course?
Service Learning is a tool that will help you learn course material. You may not use previous community hours to fulfill your current semesters hours. It is typically required that the service occurs during the duration of the course while you are studying the course content.
If you would like to begin your hours prior to the start of the course please contact your course instructor.
- Do I need to keep a timesheet?
Your instructor may require that you log your hours on a timesheet. If you do keep a timesheet you will submit it to your instructor upon completion of the course.
The Department of Service Learning does not collect completed timesheets.
- I have a question about my course grade, assignments, or enrollment?
Your course instructor is responsible for all course grades and assignments related to your service learning course.
The Department of Service Learning is not responsible for course grades, adding or dropping a course, and/or course assignments.
For questions related to your course grades and assignments please consult your course instructor.
- Where can I complete my hours if I am under 18?
You can use the database to search for opportunities that do not require you to work with children (as this is generally the kind of situation that requires you to be 18 or over). Instead, you can work with adults or animals.
Opportunity Search Instructions:
Start by looking at some of the opportunities at the top of this page: Service Learning Opportunities
Use the following steps to search the database:
- Log-in to the database: https://app.calstates4.com/csusm/dashboard with your CSUSM email.
- Click the green “Place” button by Course Placing for
- Click the “Search by Opportunities” option.
- Update the search option fields:
- Program: Service Learning
- Keywords: Examples are Adults or Animals
- Click “Apply Filter” and the page will refresh with your results. You will see various Opportunities.
- If you find one of interest to you, click the green “Select This Opportunity” button.
- Review the Site Staff and send an interest email using the Service Learning Script
- Once you have heard back from the site staff member about the opportunity, you can return to the database and complete your placement paperwork.
- Is the site 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.
If you need assistance with a resume, cover letter, or other essentials to landing your Service Learning opportunity please contact the Career Center.
- What do I do if I have not heard back from my Service Learning site?
If you have not heard back from the sites that you have reached out to please consult with your instructor for a list of additional recommended sites.
- What if my Service Learning site no longer works with my schedule?
Speak with your site supervisor immediately. If there is a problem please discuss the matter with the organizations volunteer coordinator to see if you can explore other available opportunities at that organization.
If the problem persists, first talk with your instructor and then with the Office of Service Learning for help with a change of settings.
- Can I perform Service Learning hours at my place of employment?
Service Learning needs to address an important community need and contribute to 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.
- What do I do if I have limited transportation?
If you have limited transportation, there are several on campus sites that may fit your course.
Use the keyword: "CSUSM" when searching the database.
- I do not live in San Marcos, can I do my Service Learning elsewhere?
If you do not live in San Marcos use the search bar in our database to search by the city you are located in.
If you find a site in your city that you wish to complete your hours at but it is not in our database please contact your instructor.
- What if I am a DACA-mented or undocumented and have concerns about filling out required
forms such as a fingerprint background check, or completing my service hours at a
particular site (law enforcement or military base)?
You can visit or contact the Dreamer Resource Office where they can provide you with support and access to information, including free legal advice, to determine any risks that may be associated with applying for, or completing a service opportunity. But keep in mind that not all sites require fingerprint background checks, so if you do determine a risk, please reach back out to the Service Learning and Civic Engagement Office, and we can help you find an alternate placement.