FAQ

Service-learning is a form of experiential (hands-on) education that allows you to simultaneously serve the community and learn academically by participating in volunteer work that is directly tied to the academic material covered in a specific course.

Your service should be completed with a nonprofit, educational, social services, or governmental organization during the course of the semester. The SL Office has partners across the state of New Jersey, but if we do not have a site in your region of interest, we will work to find you an appropriate site in that area. You may also suggest specific organizations with whom you are already affiliated.

  • Please refer to the "Communicating with Your Site" section of our Student Handbook (you can download it here or request a print copy from the SL Office).
  • It is always polite to introduce yourself, reference you are a Service-Learning Student from Stockton and that you are interested in volunteering with their organization.  
  • Using the correct language and verbiage is important.  You should refrain from the following statement: "Ummm, Hi...I'm Mary...and I have to do community service...".  This statement it not only inaccurate, but it sounds creepy.  Instead try: "Hello, I'm Mary, from Stockton.  I have a service-learning class project this semester, and I am interested in volunteering with your organization..."
One of the goals of service-learning is to open up new learning and volunteering opportunities to students, so we encourage students to think about working with new organizations whenever possible. However, you may request permission to serve in a place with which you are already affiliated, assuming that you will be able to link your service with your academic work in an appropriate way.
The SL Office typically does not allow students to get paid for their SL hours. However, in cases where service-learning is required and you have extreme scheduling constraints, you may complete your project with your place of employment only after gaining your professor's approval. 
 
If you do a project where you work, your service-learning activities must involve doing something you would not normally do. We strongly encourage you to volunteer elsewhere if at all possible to avoid potential conflicts of interest.
 
 
Absolutely! The SL Office encourages students to work in small groups (2-5) wherever possible. However, some of our sites cannot accommodate more than one person at a time, so this may not always be feasible. If you are interested in working in a group, be sure that you let us know as soon as possible.
  • Remember that your site supervisor is probably very busy – it may take a little time for him/her to get back to you. If you are unable to get in touch with the supervisor the first time you call, leave a message and allow 2-3 full days for him/her to return the call. If you get no response, call again. Keep track of the dates and times you have made phone calls to the site. If you have not heard from your supervisor within one week of making the first call, please contact the Office of Service-Learning and we will do everything we can to help you.
  • Best Practice says to email and call your community partner at the same time.  Everyone has a different communication style and preference - some community partners sole means of communication is phone, others email.  
  • It is generally considered unprofessional to text your community partner unless they have specifically told you to do so.
The affiliation agreement is a way for all parties involved in the SL process to clarify what they expect to get from the experience. It allows both you and your site to state your intended goals and it permits your professor/university to see how your service will connect with your academic work.
  • The LIABILITY WAIVER IS REQUIRED of all students participating in school-related off-campus work. It ensures that Stockton is not held responsible for you if anything should happen to you during the course of your service. More importantly, it releases our community partners from any liability for you. Because our partners are primarily nonprofits and educational institutions, it is important that we grant them this courtesy. 
  • Students who conduct their service projects on-campus are also expected to complete the waiver.  The waiver covers more than just physical and transportation risks. Sometimes service work can elicit mental, emotional and/or spiritual triggers.  It's important to understand all the risks before beginning a project.
Typically, students are not permitted to be paid for their SL hours – this is a volunteer program. (Please refer to the "Can I do my SL project where I work?" for details about rare exceptions to this policy.) Our regular community partners know this already, so if someone offers you financial compensation of any kind, please alert the SL Office and/or your professor.
No, the SL hours do not include transportation time to and from the site. However, if you are engaged in an SL project that requires you to drive during the time you are volunteering (for example, transporting goods from one place to another for a food bank), those hours will count.

We understand that not all of our SL students have transportation, and for those folks, we reserve a very limited number of sites that are either on-campus or very close to campus. However, we encourage students without transportation to work in a pair or small group with other students who may be able to share the responsibility for transportation.

It is important that you both dress and act appropriately, abiding by all of your community partner’s guidelines (including dress codes). It’s rare for a site to require you to dress professionally (i.e., suits). Usually, it’s acceptable to dress casually, but you should not dress sloppily (no torn or stained clothing). 
 It is normal to feel out of place or slightly uncomfortable when you first begin your SL project. In most cases, give it a couple of weeks and you will most likely fall into a comfort zone with your site. If, however, you feel physically or emotionally unsafe at your site and are extremely uncomfortable, please let the SL Office, your professor, and your site supervisor know. If you are in a bad site, we can move you somewhere else.