Service planning guide

Step 1: What do I need to know first?

Before planning your service experience, it is important to understand what service is. Check out the table below for definitions and examples. Then, we recommend working through the items below to create an experience that works for you.

  • What are your academic and career interests?
  • Do you have other personal interests, hobbies, or passions?
  • What previous experiences do you have with service?
  • Do you prefer working in teams or individually?
  • Do you prefer working with people directly or behind the scenes?
  • Do you have reliable transportation for off-campus service?
  • What days and times are you available to serve?

Step 2: How do I plan a successful experience?

Once you have decided what kind of service experience you are looking for, you are ready to find a community partner. A community partner is typically a non-profit or government agency that addresses a community issue. We call them partners to emphasize that we are working alongside agencies to combat issues that affect our collective community. The following resources (and others) are available on our website.

  • Find specific events, organizations, and search by service interests. This is where most agencies in Springfield post opportunities.
  • Non-Profit Directory: > Community-Engaged Learning > Find Learning Partners

Step 3: What do I do after my experience?

Reflection. We have many resources to help you reflect on your experience. Reflection transforms your service experience into a learning experience as you think critically about your interactions and the root causes of social issues. Visit our website for questions, videos, and more to facilitate reflection.

Continued Engagement. Test the new ideas gained from reflection by continuing your engagement. Continue seeking education on the social issues you feel passionate about, and continue learning about the world around you through service.

Log your service in Campus Link. Remember to include a brief description of your experience and what you learned, the name of your community partner, and a verification contact (preferably from your community partner). We have step-by-step instructions on our website and are always happy to help with this process.

Campus Link

Understanding service

Service Service-learning NOT service

Service should be addressing or bringing awareness to a humanitarian or community issue through an approved agency.

Examples of Direct Service:

  • Leading activities for children in an after-school program
  • Interacting with hospice patients
Examples of Indirect Service:
  • Helping an agency create documents, write grant proposals
  • Organizing food at a local pantry
  • Neighborhood revitalization projects or working in a community garden
Examples of Advocacy:
  • Working with an agency to facilitate a public forum that raises awareness for an issue
  • Hosting voter registration

Curricular Service-Learning involves service and reflection in conjunction with an academic course.

Examples of Curricular Service-Learning:

  • Your GEP Service Experience
  • Integrated Service-Learning Courses (15 hours)
  • Designate Service-Learning Courses (40 hours)
  • Bear Breaks Immersion Trips for course credit

Co-Curricular Service-Learning enhances your service experience through education and reflection but is not tied to an academic course. This is valuable experience, but it will not show up on your academic transcript.

Examples of Co-Curricular Service-Learning:

  • Bear Service Days including Into the Streets, MLK Service Day, First-Year Service Day, and Bear Blitz
  • Service with Bear Service Team
  • Service with a Fraternity,
Voluntary activities completed on your own, not through an approved agency.
  • Babysitting family members
  • Picking up trash on your own
  • Doing yard work for a neighbor
Student organization activities that are completed to fulfill requirements of membership or a leadership position.
  • Preparing for a meeting
  • Attending your organization’s event

Philanthropy is the act of giving money or raising money. Giving money or participating in a run, walk, or similar event that raises money is not considered service. However, service towards an organization that is holding a run/walk or similar event may count as service.

Donations of money, food items, clothing, etc. are not considered service. If you are volunteering with an agency to host a donation drive, this may count as service.

For more details on general service requirements, visit or email with questions.