Frequently Asked Questions



How do I learn more about Service-Learning and the GivePulse Database?

  • Attend an information session. See the flyer on the homepage for more information. 
  • Review the Student Resources section on the website and the handout for GivePulse


What is the Process  to sign up for Service-Learning ?

  • You need to talk with your professor about the types of agencies / schools that are appropriate and tied into your course learning outcomes.
  • Investigate and select a nonprofit agency, early education and care program, or school.
  • Service-Learning staff do not assign students to agencies. You need to look up sites in the GivePulse database to find a site that matches your course requirements. The Service-Learning staff can help you navigate the database if you are having difficulty finding a site.
  • Please complete the Service-Learning Contract and submit it by the deadline-- you have been given one month to find a placement!


When should I begin looking for a site?

  • As soon as you can--- it takes time to find a site and contact with a staff member. Community partners may not respond to you immediately 
  • If Service-Learning is a requirement for your course, please find a site right away. You will compromise your grade if you do not complete the requirement. 
  • You need to give time to get CORI approved (Criminal background check), which can take multiple weeks.
  • Many sites won’t accept  students past the S-L contract deadline since you will not be able to complete your course requirements. 
  • Do not expect to find a site if you wait until the last minute.  It is your responsibility to investigate and select a site. If assistance is needed, the S-L office is a resource. 


What is the Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) form?

  • This is a criminal background check that MUST be completed when working with children, senior citizens or any vulnerable population.
  • MCC does not CORI students or provide the paperwork.  This is done at sites.
  • Even if you have already been CORI approved, each site has their own CORI to complete.  There is no universal CORI.
  • You DO NOT pay for the CORI.  The site where  you are serving covers the fee.
  • Please note that any misdemeanor charges (i.e. disorderly conduct, theft, vandalism, etc.) will show up on your CORI.  So, it is in your best interest to be honest if you have had any charges or a speeding ticket. 
  • Depending on what comes up on your CORI, sites have the right  not to accept you.


How do I email / call sites?

  • As a representative of MCC, please be professional and courteous when emailing community partners.  If you are rude, a site will not respond to you. This is not the first impression you want to make.
  • Words not to use: call me ASAP; I will fail if you don’t respond; get back to me soon.
  • See the sample email below to help write your email.

 

Example message to Community partner

Good afternoon / morning (include the person’s name, if you know it):

My name is Jane Smith and I am currently taking an Intro to Sociology course at Middlesex Community College.  The purpose of this course is to explore issues facing communities, how societies develop, and how individuals interact with one another.

 A requirement of this course is to engage in a Service-Learning project at an agency in the community.  I am very passionate about hunger and homelessness issues and would like to serve at your site.  I need to complete a total of 22 hours this semester.  I would appreciate the opportunity to talk with you about Service-Learning opportunities that are available at your agency.

I look forward to hearing from you and can be reached via email or on my cell (xxx) 222-3333. The best time to reach me is………….

Thank you for your time,

Jane


What if I am having trouble finding a site?

  • Email the Service-Learning office civiclearning@middlesex.mass.edu ---include your name, the course you are taking and details. Do not wait until the last minute and expect an immediate response. 
  • The Service-Learning staff works with over 100 students and respond to email within a reasonable time. Service-Learning staff will also be available by appointment to meet individually with students to review the process and help with finding a site.  


How many hours do I need to complete?

  • 22 hours for one class (2.5 – 3 hours a week if you begin by the contract deadline)
  • 36 hours for two classes (3.5 – 4 hours a week if you begin by the contract deadline)
  • 44 hours for three classes (4.5 – 5 hours a week if you begin by the contract deadline)


How do I complete the contract?

  • You can find the contract on the Service-Learning website (www.middlesex.mass.edu/servicelearning) under Student Resources, or under the “Documents” section of Give Pulse. 
  • Review the SAMPLE contract, located under the Student Resources tab.
  • The contract  must be turned in by the deadline.
  • The contract must  be typed with all questions answered. Incomplete contracts are not accepted.
  • The completed signed contract must be reviewed by your site supervisor.  If you are taking an online course, you can email your contract to your professor and he/she can send an email approving it to civiclearning@middlesex.mass.edu.
  • Once it is signed, it can be turned in or scanned and emailed to the Service-Learning office.
  • You can turn in your contract before you begin the service. 


How do I log my hours?

  • You log your hours in the GivePulse database.  Click on the GivePulse Student Handout, under Student Resources, to learn how to log your hours.
  • You log your hours each week after you serve. 
  • Your site supervisor’s name and email must be entered as he or she will verify yourhours.

If your site supervisor is having trouble adding a site, email civiclearning@middlesex.mass.edu.  In the meantime, start logging your hours on paper and once your site is added, you can then go into the database to log your hours.


What should I think about when completing my hours?

  • The later you start your hours, the more difficult it will be to complete before the end of the semester. Sites cannot accommodate students cramming all their hours at the end of the semester and will turn students away.  
  • You need to keep in mind bad weather (especially in the winter), school calendars (schools have some ½ days), school breaks (in February and April), holidays, standardized testing (MCAS usually takes place in April or May).
  • You have taken on a commitment and need to be responsible for showing up.  The sites are counting on you.
  • Your hours will be verified during the semester by your site supervisor.
  • Your site supervisor will be asked to complete an evaluation describing your work at the

 

What are some important guidelines for working with community partners?

  • Before signing up with a site, set up a meeting with the site supervisor to discuss your course objectives, the mission of the organization, complete the Service-Learning Contract, and complete any agency paper work. 
  • At the beginning of the semester, set up a schedule with your site supervisor to ensure weekly consistency throughout the semester. For example, serving every Tuesday from 3pm-6pm for 10 weeks.
  • Consistency is crucial for building relationships with staff and those you’re serving.  This is especially important when working with children. 
  • Your Service-Learning hours must be completed weekly during the semester. Waiting until the semester is ending to try to complete all of your hours is not acceptable.


Professional communication while serving:

  • If you are unable to make it to the site (illness, car trouble, emergency, etc.) contact your supervisor as soon as possible.
  • Agencies rely heavily on volunteers and need time to find another volunteer or staff member to cover activities. This is also a professional environment where timeliness is expected. 
  • Inform your supervisor if you do not know how to perform a specific task so that you can be trained effectively.  A supervisor will not know what issues you are experiencing, if you do not address them in a timely manner. 
  • If you are uncomfortable with a situation or individual, tell your supervisor immediately. Safety is very important! 
  • Be professional when emailing your site supervisor or leaving a voice mail message.  You are representing MCC and this individual could serve as a reference for you in the future.
  •  If you are upset about a situation, address it in person. Emails can often convey tone and be misinterpreted. 
  • Respect confidentiality and do not share names of clients and their situations with those you know.
  • DO NOT share personal information (phone number; email, or any form of social media information) with a client or child you are working with. Professional boundaries are crucial. 
  • Please remind your site supervisor when your service will be completed. This will allow them to plan accordingly. A reminder as you near the end of your service is thoughtful and professional.
  • Send your site supervisor a thank you card or email expressing your gratitude for the experience, what you learned, and the skills you gained.   

 

Can I get an extension on the deadline?

  • Please note that schools and agencies need students to start on time since spend time training students, orient them to the site and provide enough work for 22-44 hours.  This cannot happen if students wait until the last minute to locate a site.
  • You are also creating a relationship with the individuals you are working with.  Building trust and rapport takes time and cannot be rushed.  You are given over 2.5 months to complete your hours.


Please Note:
--If an extension is warranted, it only occurs on a case-by-case basis and is determined by Service-Learning staff. 


Policies and Procedures:
          

  • Adhere to all policies, procedures and guidelines of the agency. They are in place to protect the client’s confidentiality, create a safe space for clients, and to ensure your safety and well-being.
  • Do not use your cell phone or any electronic devices when serving at your site.  Be present during your experience.  Keep your phone on silent and if there’s a situation you are dealing with, inform your supervisor so that they are aware that you may need to have your phone with you. 
  • Dress appropriately when serving at your site. 
    • Do not wear revealing or ripped clothing or t-shirts with inappropriate logos on them. 
    • Ask your supervisor about their dress code. 
    • Wear MCC gear, if you have it.  It’s great to show school pride! 
    • Dress for the project you’ll be working on (i.e. if working with a community garden, wear clothes you don’t mind getting dirty)
  • Do not use offensive language, share inappropriate jokes, or engage in dialogue that could hurt others.  
  • Have fun! Our community partners love having MCC students serve and are so appreciative of the help!  Enter with an open mind and you will get so much from your experience.
Last Modified: 8/15/17