Getting Started

Summer Service Learning Program  -  Getting Started

Types of Service Options through the SSLP

Q.  What kind of service work are students involved in through the SSLP?

A: Each summer, SSLP students serve at 180 non-profits, hospitals, parishes, schools, summer camps, and other community-based organizations that work with a wide variety of populations.  Most SSLP placements prioritize opportunities for students to build meaningful relationships with the people served by their organizations.  For a full list of SSLP partner organizations, look through the SSLP Site Directory, which is searchable by state and site category.  

Q:  How can I find out more about a particular organization on the list that I’m interested in?

A: The online site directory provides a brief outline of the organizations to introduce various types of SSLP placements.  It’s best to remain open to multiple site placements since other students are applying at the same time as you are.  After the SSLP Interview, the SSLP Placement Meeting provides an opportunity to gain in-depth information about each site.  You will then be able to read through folders of information on each site including the papers of last year’s students and to ask more questions of the SSLP staff.  

Q: How does the SSLP apply to my major or career goals?

A: The SSLP provides hand-on, technical experiences at non-profit agencies across the country. Whether you are working at a health clinic, running a children's summer program, or planning fundraising events for a homeless shelter, you are treated as part of the staff and expected to act like a professional. Many students find that the SSLP is a formative experience that connects directly to your studies, no matter what major, and to the type of professional that you aspire to be some day. 

Q: What is the time commitment to one’s SSLP organization?

A: Starting and ending dates vary based on the organization and are listed on the online site directory.  Students work at least 35 hours a week (and more for overnight camps and other placements) for 8 consecutive weeks at their organizations.  SSLP students are not volunteers; they are members of the staff of their organizations for the summer.  As such, students should arrange for family vacations to take place either before or after the start of their 8 week immersion.  


Tips for Applying to the SSLP

Q: Are there any requirements to be able to apply for the SSLP?

A: Yes, students must have previous service experience in the U.S., be in academic good standing, and be available for 8 consecutive weeks during the summer.

Q:  The SSLP application is available from November 15 to February 1.  When should I submit my application?

A: We match students with SSLP placements on a rolling basis, so it is to your advantage to apply, interview, and have your placement meeting as early as possible so there are more placements available to you. If you are applying to a healthcare site, your application must be submitted by December 1.  

Q. Does applying and going through the interview and placement process guarantee placement at an SSLP site?

A. No, being invited to the interview or placement process does not guarantee you a SSLP placement offer and the process allows you opportunities to consider other options for the summer as well. You are not locked into an SSLP site until you are made an offer, and you accept and sign the contract.

Q. Is the process for applying to healthcare sites different than the other sites?

A: Because there is such a demand for healthcare related placements, we only receive healthcare applications until Dec. 1st. Upper class students are given priority in the interview and placement process. Many first year applicants will be asked to apply next year or may be placed on a waiting list. Contracts for healthcare sites are signed after Christmas break. Applicants who do not receive a healthcare placement are invited to consider some of our other sites that might also have healthcare dimensions, as well as any other category of service.

Q:  How does being abroad affect my ability to apply and participate?

A:  Students abroad in the fall semester can apply online starting November 15 and choose an interview time in January.  Students who are going abroad in the spring semester need to apply, interview, and have a placement meeting before leaving campus in December.  Those who will be abroad after completing the SSLP (either the fall 2017 or the whole 2017-18 academic year) will need to turn in all their assignments and final paper before going abroad. They will take the follow-up course sessions in the semester that they return to campus.

Q: I have already participated in a SSLP.  Can I do another one?

A:  Yes.  Students who participate a second time will be expected to take on more leadership or to work at a different type of site. For the course, students have the option to do a directed readings course in their major or minor or to enroll in the follow-up Theology course,” Discipleship,” which fulfills the second University theology requirement.

Q: Do I have to be Catholic or Christian to participate since it’s a theology course?

A:  No, students from all faith backgrounds are encouraged to apply, as well as students who do not practice a religious tradition.  As a theology course, the SSLP looks to the Church’s intellectual and moral resources, such as the Catholic Social Tradition, to provide one framework for thinking about and responding to the social issues students will encounter during the summer.  

Q.  I am student at  Saint Mary’s College or Holy Cross College.  Can I apply?

A: Yes, interested students should contact Mike Griffin ( at Holy Cross or Rebekah Go-Deline ( at Saint Mary’s to find out when to apply and how to set up an interview.


Housing, Food, and Travel Arrangements During the 8 Week Immersion

Q: Where will I live during the SSLP placement?

A: Housing is arranged by the Notre Dame Club sponsoring the placement and is at no cost to you.  Clubs may arrange for students to live “on site” at the organization where you’ll be working, or near the site with other students or community members, with a Notre Dame alumni host family.  Other students live at home and commute each day to their site placements.  

Q: Will my meals be covered?

A: Yes, we ask Notre Dame Clubs to ensure your room and board is provided at no cost to you.  Possible arrangements include eating meals with your host family or at your service organization, receiving a food stipend to prepare your own meals, or eating at your own home.  

Q: Do I need a car to participate?

A:  The SSLP site directory lists which sites require a student to have her or his own vehicle due to the living arrangements of each placement.  Having a car increases the number of placements where you might be an eligible candidate.  Students without vehicles are encouraged to apply early and to be particularly flexible considering multiple placement options in order to increase your chances of being placed at a site.  

Q: Can I take work time off during my SSLP for family vacations, conferences, or other events?

A: No, the SSLP is an eight week immersion.  Participating means you are committing to be at your site for eight consecutive weeks which will allow you to be as fully present as possible and gain the most from the experience.  Schedule family vacations and other events before or after the SSLP and if you don’t have eight consecutive weeks available this summer due to study abroad or other commitments, we encourage you to apply next summer.  Exceptions include family weddings and family funerals since students don’t have control over when these take place.  

Q: Will I be able to visit my family over the summer?

A: We encourage families to visit and meet the people with whom students work, with the permission of the site.  Some sites require working on weekends and evening hours, so time off may vary. Students serving in locations within driving distance of their hometowns may travel home to visit family several weekends throughout the summer if you communicate in advance with your site, ND Club, and host family (as applicable) and ensure you don’t miss any SSLP commitments.  

Q: Are all sites willing to have a SSLP student for any eight week period during the summer, or does each site have a specific date range that they can host a student?

A: Each site listing on the SSLP website includes a range of dates.  In some cases, sites require students for one specific eight week range, and other sites list multiple date ranges.  If the site you’re placed at lists multiple date ranges, you will confirm with them when you finalize your placement exactly which set of eight weeks you’ll be working.  

Q: How are safety concerns addressed?

A: The SSLP orientation covers general safety information, and site-specific information is given by the site upon the student’s arrival to his or her placement. The sites have developed relationships in the communities where they are located and so will be able to advise students regarding appropriate safety precautions. If a student has concerns while at the site, he or she should discuss them with the site supervisor, and if further steps need to be taken, contact the SSLP office.


Scholarship and Financial Information

SSLP participants receive a stipend and scholarship totaling $2,700. Students typically receive $500 shortly before their immersion begins, to offset incidental expenses over the summer. Then a $2,200 scholarship is applied to their student accounts to offset Fall tuition expenses. Housing and food are provided for students living on site or with alumni host families.For participants with high financial need, a program fee waiver and travel assistance may be possible.  More information about the financial aspects of the SSLP can be found HERE.