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 instructional video online – go to www.middlesex.mass.edu/servicelearning.  It is under the Student Resources tab.

 -    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 to serve at, which will tie into your course.

-      You need to select a nonprofit agency, early education and care program, or school to serve at.

-      The Service-Learning staff does not assign students to agencies. You will need to look up sites in the GivePulse database to find a site that interests you.  There are over 100 sites in the database. The Service-Learning staff can help you navigate the database if you are having difficulty finding a site.

-      You need to 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?

 -    ASAP! It takes time to find a site and get in contact with a staff member (sites will not respond to you in 24 hours as they are very busy serving the community).

 -     If Service-Learning is a requirement for your course, you must find a site ASAP. You do not want to 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 will not take students past the S-L contract deadline because they need to have enough work for you to complete in 22-44 hours. 

 -     Do not expect to find a site if you have waited until the last minute.  It is yourresponsibility to do your work as the S-L office is a resource.

What if I am having trouble finding a site?

-      Contact the Service-Learning office (civiclearning@middlesex.mass.edu) and speak with Rose Gage (Director) or Leah Pronovost (Service-Learning Coordinator). They will help you. 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 24-48 hours.  Rose’s office hours are from 9:00am – 5:00pm. Leah works 18 hours a week; please email her for her office hours.  Both are available to meet individually with students to review the process and help with finding a site.

How do I email / call sites?

 -      You need to be professional and courteous when emailing community partners as you are representing yourself and MCC.  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 email:

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 volunteer 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.

Thank you for your time,

Jane

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 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 in after each week you serve. 

 -       Your site supervisor’s name and email must be entered as he or she will verify your hours.

 -       If your site supervisor is having trouble adding a site, email Leah at 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 you will need to complete by the end of the semester. Sites cannot accommodate students cramming all their hours until the end of the semester and have turned 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 at the end of or during the semester by your site supervisor.

 -       Your site supervisor will be asked to complete an evaluation describing your work at the site. 

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.

-       It must be turned in by the deadline so that the office knows who is doing Service-Learning. 

-       Review the SAMPLE contract, located under the Student Resources tab.

-       It must be turned in by the deadline so that the office knows who is doing Service-Learning. 

-       It must be typed so that it can be read clearly.

-       It must be completed entirely or it will be returned.  Answer all questions.

-       It must be reviewed by your site supervisor and professor and signed.  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. 

Can I get an extension on the deadline?

 -      Please note that schools and agencies need students to start by the end of February as they need to train 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.

 -      If an extension is warranted, it occurs on a case-by-case basis and is discussed with faculty and Service-Learning staff.

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 that you are serving at 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 to not accept you as a volunteer.

What are some professional skills I will gain from doing Service-Learning?

-       Time management / organization skills

-       Leadership skills

-       Communication skills

-       Problem-solving skills

-       Project planning / project management

-       Research skills

-       Cultural awareness / cultural competence

-       Working with different people / personal styles

What are some important guidelines for working with community partners?

Setting Up Your Service Experience:

 -     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.

 -     Set up a schedule with your site supervisor, at the beginning of the semester, to ensure weekly consistency throughout the semester (i.e. 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.

 -     Do not cram all of your hours into a few days. Oftentimes, nonprofit agencies cannot accommodate this as they are juggling a number of volunteers and projects.

Communication:

 -     Examples of professional communication:

  • If you are unable to make it to the site (illness, car trouble, emergency, etc.) contact your supervisor ASAP. 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. Your 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 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.

 -     Let your site supervisor know when your last day of service is ahead of time, so that he or she can plan accordingly. Do not tell him or her the day of as your supervisor has put time into your learning.

 -     Send your site supervisor a thank you card or email expressing your gratitude for the experience, what you learned, and the skills you gained.

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 need to have your phone on 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 come in to serve and they are so appreciative of the help! Enter with an open mind and you will get so much from your experience.

Last Modified: 1/20/17