Frequently Asked Questions

General Program Information

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Why should I participate?

Serving will afford you the opportunity to explore careers, apply course work, fulfill personal values and develop meaningful relationships while deepening your roots in our community. Your participation in this program will provide you with quantifiable hours and real-life scenarios for graduate school and job applications as well as the prestige of noting the honor and award on your resume. We are positive that, when coupled with reflection, participation in this program will prove valuable. Your participation will also aid the larger mission of quantifying and summarizing the impact that the collective community at Brandeis makes, which helps us achieve funding as well as set future goals and standards. Your participation will also help Brandeis to fulfill its Mission and Diversity statements.

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What are the three tiers of the Commitment to Service Award?

Bronze — Documenting of 300 hours of service

Silver — Documenting of 600 hours of service

Gold — Documenting of 900 hours of service

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What does the award include?

Your Commitment to Service Award will include a certificate from administration and a memorable medal keepsake. Your name will also be listed on the Department of Community Service website.

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Should I document participation in the Commitment to Service program on my resume?

Yes, we strongly encourage you to meet with a Hiatt advisor to best represent this opportunity on your resume and during interviews.

Participating in the Program

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Is the reflective essay mandatory to complete the program?

Yes, written reflection is a powerful way to document your learning and enhance your service experience. We encourage you to complete this reflection at any point during your experience where you felt the greatest amount of development. Please do not save this to the very end.

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Am I required to attend the Celebration of Service to receive my award?

You are not required to attend the event; however, we hope that you will make arrangements to be recognized for your contributions and celebrate both you and many members of our community.

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Do I need a reference to participate in the program?

No, the program is open to all undergraduate students who commit to the five award requirements.

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If I graduate early do I need to complete the same number of hours to receive the award?

Yes, the requirements remain the same if you choose to graduate early.

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If I am a mid-year, do I need to complete the same number of hours to receive the award?

Yes, the requirements remain the same for mid-year students. If you participate in a Brandeis approved program prior to arriving to campus in January, the direct service hours can be included with the submission of an hours verification letter.

Logging Hours

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How do I log and track my volunteer hours?

The process is rather simple. You simply log into Sage after each service opportunity (or at least each month). Only hours logged in the official system will be approved. All hours should be logged in decimals and rounded to the nearest 15 minutes.

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Should I track hours related to transportation and reflection?

Yes, we understand the importance of both in your community engagement and permit all students to track up to a combined total of 15 hours of reflection and transportation per semester.

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Do my community service hours during the summer count toward this program?

If you are enrolled as a Brandeis student then yes, hours from volunteering over the summer can count toward the program. All hours must adhere to the approved community service standards.

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Can I include my community service hours while abroad?

Yes, if you are in an approved study abroad program then your hours abroad can count. Please continue to document your hours while abroad on an ongoing basis.

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If I am a transfer student can the hours I completed at my previous institution count for part of this program?

Yes, these hours can count, but you must have a staff advisor from your previous institution submit a letter on official letterhead documenting your community service hours. A hard copy of this letter can be mailed to Department of Community Service (DCS), Brandeis University, 415 South St. MS 203, Waltham, MA 02453 or emailed to us.

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What if I am completing service with an organization that does not have an affiliation with Brandeis or is not already in the Sage system?

If as a volunteer you are representing yourself as a Brandeis student, although not through a structured Brandeis program, then yes, you can count these hours if you are enrolled in courses at Brandeis University. Be advised that if Brandeis is unfamiliar with the organization we reserve the right to contact your volunteer site supervisor. Students are able to add projects directly on to Sage. However it is required that all requested fields are fully filled out (contact info, description of service, volunteer supervisor etc.) so that the project can be approved as legitimate service hours. Before you add a project, be sure to check that it is not already an existing project in the system!

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Do community service hours completed prior to enrolling in the program count toward my award?

Community service hours completed prior to enrolling do not count toward the program. The only exception to this is if you are a first year student and have hours to log from VolunteerFest.

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When can I add add my hours into Sage?

At this time students cannot count these hours in the Commitment to Service Award program. Service that only impacts the University does not count towards the CTSA award program.

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What is the hours verification letter?

If you are transferring to Brandeis and would like to count hours completed at a previous institution, a staff member from your previous institution/immersion program/volunteer site must submit a letter on official letterhead documenting your community service hours. A hard copy of this letter can be mailed to Department of Community Service (DCS), Brandeis University, 415 South St. MS 203, Waltham, MA 02453 or emailed to us.

Types of Activities That Count Toward the Program

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Can I count hours spent on interfaith work? How about the Brandeis Peace Vigil?

Interfaith hours can count; however, hours spent at the Peace Vigil cannot.

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Can my volunteer hours for on-campus events and leadership positions be included (Fall Fest, OL, committee work, etc.)?

Once you register, you will be able to begin tracking your hours. It's important that you log hours regularly, as you will only have access to enter hours for the current semester. The date range within which you can enter hours for each semester are listed below for your convenience:

  • Fall 2018: Aug. 29 through Dec. 31

  • Spring 2019: Jan. 1 through May 19

  • Summer 2019: May 20 through Aug. 27

If you do forget to record your hours in Sage, or if you have hours from previous semesters that were never logged (but you kept track of them another way), email the information to have them added to your record as long as they occurred after you registered.

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Can I track my hours spent fundraising?

Yes, you can count your hours spent fundraising for a non-profit or community organization. There are limitations to the amount of hours that can count in the Commitment to Service Award program, email us with questions about your particular situation. As an example, if you are in a dance performance group and are donating final performance proceeds to a non-profit, you are able to count the FINAL rehearsal and performance, but not every rehearsal.

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Can I count hours from my advocacy work or club membership?

Students are permitted to count hours for advocacy-related activities that fall within the purview of the Brandeis University Mission and Diversity Statements. In particular any advocacy-related activity must align with the values of inclusivity, civility, diversity, respect, and safety. Any activities that are hateful, overtly disrespectful, or discriminatory in nature will not count towards this program. Additionally, hours for advocacy-related activities must extend beyond the Brandeis community.

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If I am participating in an unpaid internship at a non-profit or community site, can I count these hours?

The current structure of the program does not permit you to directly count all of your hours at these sites; however, if you think that you have extenuating circumstances we requests that you email the Commitment to Service Program Coordinator. The Program Coordinator will then send you an internship request form where you can outline your internship responsibilities. Your request will then be reviewed by a small committee. Approval is granted on a case by case basis.

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Can I count hours spent working on a research project?

Hours spent working on a research project under all academic disciplines (biology, psychology, history, etc.) do not count towards the CTSA program. If students feel that they have an exception, email the Department of Community Service.

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Can I count hours spent volunteering with my place of worship or a faith-based organization?

Students may count hours for religious education (i.e. teaching Sunday School or Hebrew School) or volunteering at your place of worship. Activities must fall within the domain of the Brandeis University Mission and Diversity Statements. In particular any religious related activity must align with the values of inclusivity, civility, diversity, respect, and safety.

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Can I count hours spent campaigning for a political candidate or political party?

Hours spent campaigning in support of a particular candidate or political party do not count towards the CTSA program.