How are service-learning students different from other volunteers?

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Service-learning volunteers are different from other volunteers in various ways. On a basic level, they differ because their work with you is part of a university class. Their time commitment options with you may also be more limited than some volunteers—most service-learning volunteers are expected to work 2 to 3 hours per week during the semester of their service-learning class. Also, because a semester goes by quickly, it’s very important that you plug service-learning students into concrete volunteer activities in a timely manner.

The other difference is that there are learning objectives connected to these students’ work with you. As a host organization, you are considered a co-educator for these students. (This sets service-learning students apart from other students who may have to complete a certain number of hours to graduate, but whose service is not connected to an academic course.) When you work with service-learning students, we strongly encourage you to learn about what the students are studying in class, and then engage them in reflection activities while they work in your organization.

Benefits of Service-Learning

  • Improved relationship with university
  • Increased awareness of and support for community organizations, issues and unmet community needs
  • Access to scholars with expertise in area(s) of interest
  • Help breakdown and dispel myths and stereotypes about students and community
  • Provide an opportunity for a community to shape students’ values and to prepare students for remaining engaged with ones organization or the social issue throughout life
  • Receipt of tangible project outcomes, research, and other resources useful for daily operation, grant data, supporting client needs, etc.