If you’re like the vast majority of Columbia students, you’ll be completing at least two (possibly four!) semesters of “service prac” during your time here. You probably have questions! And you may be feeling like service practicum is going to be one more thing in your packed college schedule.
Service Practicum is like UMD weekend, or the Annual Campus-Wide Paint War, or Ken Esau’s OT Survey final. It’s a Columbia rite of passage. It may feel a little overwhelming in the moment, but when you come out the other side, you’ll know it was worth it.
So why is Service Practicum valuable? Here are five reasons to love and embrace “Service Prac.”
Service Practicum gets you out of the classroom.
Life as a Columbia student involves a lot of learning. There will be lectures to attend, chapters to read, facts to memorize, paragraphs to write, and discussions to dive into. Service Practicum is a chance to apply the concepts you’re learning in real situations. Not only is it a nice break from the books, it will teach you things that books just can’t. And you’ll come back to the classroom with new questions and experiences that will make your classes feel way more relevant.
“I am thankful for Service Practicum because it has given me the amazing opportunity to become a servant-hearted leader and to apply what I am learning at CBC to this youth group. I pray that the Kingdom of God will come in more and more ways at my Service Practicum and that I will continue to grow into a servant leader.” – Wes Braun
Service Practicum is easy to fit into your schedule.
In Service Practicum you’ll volunteer with an organization, church, or campus team for a minimum of two hours per week, for 10-12 sessions each semester. Beyond that, things are really flexible. You’ll have freedom to choose a weekly time slot that works for you. If you live off campus, you can arrange your practicum at an organization that’s close to your house, and cut down on travel time. There are also lots of Sunday-morning service practicum opportunities, where you could combine church (something you’re already doing) with a chance to learn and serve.
Service Practicum can broaden your perspective.
One of the best parts of college life is experiencing new ways of looking at the world. In Service Prac, you can get off campus and interact with people of different ages, cultures, denominations, and faith backgrounds. You might end up serving food bank clients, or high school students, or the office staff of a local charity. It’s a great opportunity to get out of the ‘bubble’ and connect with new people and different approaches to life.
“My service practicum is working one on one with new immigrants by helping teach English, Canadian culture and by just being a friend. For the last year I have been meeting with a man from China. I can honestly say we have come friends. I believe this is because I didn’t approach my service practicum like I was doing him a favor, but instead by desiring to help him with what he needed help with and at the same time being open to learning about him and his culture. Because of humility I feel like I have grown considerably in my knowledge and appreciation of other cultures and am thankful for the friendship that has come out of it.” – Andrew Boulton
Service Practicum will help you explore your calling.
What am I passionate about? What could I be good at? Would I enjoy working with kids, or single moms, or athletes? Where is God leading me? Another great feature of service practicum is that you get the chance to experiment. Maybe you’ll find out that you love behind-the-scenes administration, or you might discover that you are a natural at working with the elderly. Your Service Practicum grade doesn’t depend on your level of skill – it depends on your faithfulness, effort, and reliability. This is a low-risk way to do something brand-new-to-you and see whether it’s a good fit.
“My service practicum was an amazing part of my Biblical studies major thus far, and because of it, I will be continuing my service at my church on a bi-weekly schedule far after my official service practicum has been completed. It truly helped me to understand the importance of service within the church and within my own personal walk with Christ.” – Mitchell Kroeker
Service Practicum teaches you super-critical life skills.
So… speaking of faithfulness, effort, and reliability – these are essential skills you’re going to need no matter where God leads you in life, and Service Prac is a great way to develop them. Service Prac will help you grow in other crucial areas too: teamwork, communication, receiving feedback from a supervisor. As you move on into Service Prac II, III, and IV, you’ll most likely have the chance to take on more responsibility and gain leadership experience (not to mention more confidence!)
Service Practicum will get your eyes off you.
There are lots of pluses to Service Practicum, but the most significant one is less about you, and more about Jesus and the world. As Christians, God invites us to focus not on what’s in it for us, but on loving God and our neighbours. The key word in ‘Service Practicum’ is service: learning to be a godly servant who puts others first and makes an impact through selfless action. It’s so easy to get caught up in our own worries, to-do lists, and questions. For a few hours every week, Service Prac will turn your eyes outward. It will help you be a little more like Jesus. Which is pretty worth it 🙂
“Service practicum has broadened my perspective of what service looks like. My time spent serving has enabled me to cultivate genuine relationships, and a growing heart for even the theology in songs for corporate worship. Overall, I have been deeply impacted by how God has poured into me when I serve, and am continuing to learn what it means to serve others as if serving Him.” – Emily Saathof