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Student Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions about Service Learning

  • What is Service Learning?
    As an experiental learning approach, service learning connects what students are learning in the classroom to real world where they apply and practice skills that are relevant to course objectives. Service Learning requires that the student reflect on and learn from the service being performed in the community. Both the student and the community mutually benefits from the student's engagement in service learning.
  • How is Service Learning different from Internships?

    Service learning experiences are related to course content. Prepares students to better understand course content through experiential learning. Promotes civic responsibility, and is organized to meet the needs of the community. 

    Internships are paid professional experiences related to student's career interests. Prepares students for post graduate pursuits. Experiences are not exclusively related to meeting the needs of the community. 

  • Do I have to take a course with service learning to engage in service learning?
    Yes. Service Learning is by definition tied to a course and therefore CSUSM students who are interested in engaging in service learning must enroll in a service learning course.   
  • What are the COVID-19 guidelines for service learning?
    Please see the following CSUSM COVID-19 Information for students. The sites (community partners) may have different guidelines that you have to follow to be able to complete your service learning hours with them. 
  • Can I complete my service learning hours virtually?
    Yes, however, please note that there are very limited number of virtual/remote/online service learning opportunities that are listed in the S4 database.  
  • Can I complete service learning hours if I am under 18?

    Yes. When you place yourself in the S4 database, you will be prompted to have  a parent or guardian sign the CSUSM Release of Liability Form

  • Can I complete service learning hours if I have a past criminal record?

    Depends on your record, you will have hard time finding a site (community partner) to work with and complete your service learning hours. Please note that expungement may still show up in the criminal background checks. If you have a past criminal record, we encourage you to:

    • notify your course instructor and the service learning office immediately; and
    • complete your service learning hours with a community partner on CSUSM campus.   
  • How many service learning hours are students required to complete?
    The number of service learning hours are determined by the course instructors. However, usually students complete 10 to 40 hours of service learning hours in a service learning course. 
  • Can I use past service learning experiences/hours for my current course?

    It is typically required that the service occurs during the duration of the course while you are studying the course content. However, your course instructor is the one who makes the decision about whether you can use past service learning experiences/hours for your current course.  


  • Can I start my service learning hours before the course begins?
    If you would like to begin your hours prior to the start of the course please contact your course instructor. 
  • When do I need to finish my service learning hours?
    Please contact our course instructor. It is typical that students complete their service learning hours by the end of the semester before the finals week. 
  • 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 Service Learning Office 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. 

Questions about Finding a Service Learning Site 

Questions about Placing Yourself with a Site

  • What do I do after I have found my Service Learning site?

    If you found the service learning site in the S4 database on your own, please reach out to the site to introduce yourself, express your interest in completing your service learning hours at the site, and inquire about the availability of the opportunities. Once you have confirmation from the site that you can complete your service learning with them, log into the S4 database to place yourself with the site in the university system. Instructions are provided in the For Students page.  

  • What do I do if I have not heard back from my Service Learning site after I contacted them?
    If you do not hear back from a site in three days then reach out to another site, and continue the process until you find a site. 
  • 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: 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.

  • Do I need to keep a timesheet?

    The Service Learning office does not require you to submit a timesheet in the S4 database. 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.

  • How would my instructor know I completed my service learning hours
    Ask your course instructor what they would like as evidence for you completing your service learning hours. The course instructor may want you to submit a timesheet to them signed by your site supervisor. Alternatively, on the Service Learning End of Service Form, which appears in S4 database after you are placed at a site, if you want your site supervisor to confirm with your course instructor, you can enter their email address. Once you submit the Service Learning End of Service Form, an automated email will be sent to your site supervisor encouraging them to email your course instructor for confirming your service learning hours.