This month we've been talking about which data "counts" in the application.
Some of you have asked whether your data has to be 1,000,000% comprehensive.
It usually goes something like this, "We don't collect service hours completed by Greek organizations and athletic teams. Are we doomed?"
This is a great question!
If you don't already systematically collect this data, you may be
Worried that you'll be penalized for leaving it out
Wondering if you need to start collecting it ASAP.
There's a key question you need to ask before you go any further:
Is it community engagement?
A lot of "service" activities, particularly those that are connected to an hours requirement, but not connected to a course, lack the characteristics distinguishing community interaction from community engagement.
Put another way: there's drive-thru service, and then there's community engagement.
If these activities actually reflect community engagement characteristics, then you want to bring them into the fold, at least into conversation with other community engagement efforts, practices, and policies. This is one of the ways your campus can leverage the application to improve overall campus coordination. (It's up to you to determine how quickly that can happen, and whether you can integrate those areas into your existing systematic data collection.)
What if you determine you've got drive-thru service on your hands?
Ask your team if these service activities face opportunities to take on more characteristics of community engagement now, or in the near future. This might be another leveraging opportunity. But that will depend on the current context and culture on your campus, which only you will know.
And unless you turn those into community engagement quickly, there will be no reason to count this data for inclusion in the application.