Experiential learning enables you to gain knowledge, develop skills, and clarify values through direct experience and focused reflection. By exploring your interests and abilities via service learning, internships, faculty-led research, and travel/study abroad programs, you will be able to make a more informed choice about your career options.
These experiences allow you to observe and apply concepts that you are learning in the classroom to real-life settings. They position you more competitively in today’s job market.
GCU requires undergraduates to have two experiential-learning experiences to graduate. This can include service learning, internships, faculty-led research, or a travel/study abroad program.
One experience is gained through a service-learning project within the required General Education capstone course GEN400: Visioning the Future: Justice, Compassion, and Service GEN400. The elements include service in connection to the class and a reflection paper.
The second experiential-learning experience is determined by your major and personal goals. It can be achieved through an internship, faculty-led research, practicum/clinical or field study, global education programs experience, or a second service-learning experience within a course other than GEN400. Many disciplines have experiential learning built into the major—verify with your advisor, if your discipline has a defined experiential-learning requirement. For those disciplines that do not have a specific requirement, students can select from the following options:
Service learning is the opportunity for students, in connection with an academic course, to learn through serving a community by working with a nonprofit agency. It includes both classroom and service experience and incorporates a reflective.
Contact your academic advisor to determine if a service-learning project is a viable option for completing one of your two experiential-learning graduation requirements.
These steps enable a service-learning experience to be acknowledged by the university:
- Register for an academic course that is either designated as being approved for service learning or in which the professor has agreed to supervise you in service learning.
- Register for an SL100 section with the same instructor (This doesn’t apply to the required GEN400.) For example, if you register for WS311 with Dr. Ninivaggi and would like to participate in the service-learning option, register for the section of SL100 assigned to Dr. Ninivaggi in the same year/term/session. All SL100 sections require instructor permission prior to registration.
- Place the SL100 course corresponding to your registered course into your Self-Service course shopping cart. You will be notified to secure permission from the instructor to complete the registration process.
- Reach out to the instructor to discuss your project. Develop three learning objectives for each project. Obtain instructor permission to register. Upon receiving permission from the instructor, add the SL100 course to your schedule in Self-Service.
After you complete your service-learning project, you’ll submit a two- to three-page paper on the experience. Then you’ll go to the Experiential Learning section on GCU CareerLink, and submit the Service-Learning Completion Form. The SL100 instructor will enter a final grade of Pass upon completion of the semester.
Internships combine classroom learning with practice in a professional setting, while building your network. These experiences can be paid, unpaid, for credit or not-for-credit, and can take place throughout the United States or abroad.
Most students begin interning the summer between their sophomore and junior years; however, it is never too early (or too late) to secure an internship.
Competitive and national internships often have deadlines in early fall for summer opportunities, while some employers consider applications throughout the year.
Finding an Internship
To find internship opportunities:
- Reach out through your network
- Search online, including GCU CareerLink.
- Ask a professor or career services team member.
- Approach a company you’re interested in with a plan of what you’d like to do for them and what you’d like to get out of the experience.
- Consult The 10 Best Websites for Finding an Internship.
Documenting Your Internship
If your discipline requires you to complete an internship, work with your advisor and/or the internship coordinator to ensure your internship is recognized by the institution. If you are completing the experiential-learning requirement through a non-credit internship, head to the Experiential Learning section on GCU CareerLink. Submit the Internship Approval Form, which requires approval by the site supervisor/employer as well as the director of career services. You will receive confirmation via e-mail when the form has been finalized.
After you complete your internship, submit a two- to three-page reflection paper to the director of career services. Then go to the Experiential Learning section on GCU CareerLink. Submit the Internship Completion Form, which requires approval by the site supervisor/employer as well as the director of career services. You will receive confirmation via e-mail when the form has been finalized.
Georgian Court University’s Office of Global Education Programs gives students the opportunity to study, intern, and/or do service abroad. Visit georgian.edu/study-abroad to learn more.
Faculty-led research is an excellent option for students interested in pursuing graduate study, those with an interest in research, and or those looking for increased exposure to their academic field.
To explore a research opportunity:
- Contact faculty in your field of interest to determine if research opportunities exist.
- Register for the research course offered in your discipline. Satisfactory completion of the research course will serve as documentation of completion of this experiential-learning opportunity.
International students should consult with the Office of Global Education Programs to understand how immigration status may impact experiential-learning options.