Getting involved in the Bonner Scholars Program is easy. Yet, you may have questions as to how one can serve while being a full-time student.

Do I have to be in Oberlin for summer service?

No. While some students use the summer as an opportunity to get more involved with their program worksite or branch out to another organization and build ties to the community, they are not required to stay in Oberlin. In fact, many students choose to perform service in their hometowns throughout the United States and abroad, and may apply for funding to receive a stipend.

Am I assigned to a particular site? How do I find a site?

Bonners at Oberlin are not assigned to a site. As part of the Introduction to Bonner course during their first semester, students get a feel for the work that is taking place in the community and meet leaders from different organizations in the area. They also receive support and advice from the program director and Bonner Leadership Team students. It is common for Bonners Scholars to change sites throughout or after their first year as they develop a better sense for the kind of service that best suits their interests and skills. However, there are some Bonners that do service at the same site for all four years.

What do you mean by community service?

For the purposes of the Bonner Scholars Program, "community service" is defined as service provided to individuals or communities to meet social, educational, or environmental needs. This service may be provided directly or indirectly through a student-initiated project or a project sponsored by a nonprofit or government agency. The following activities do not count towards meeting a Bonner Scholar's service requirement:

  • service on behalf of a private, for-profit company or organization;
  • service on behalf of a political organization or campaign (voter registration drives are allowed); and
  • pure, scientific research in a laboratory.

The Bonner Scholars Program maintains a database of opportunities in more than 100 local human and social services agencies, schools, religiously affiliated service organizations, grassroots community initiatives, and municipal government entities.

What if I have federal work study? Can I manage Bonner hours and FWS?

Yes! The two programs are not mutually exclusive. Many Bonner service sites are also approved federal work-study sites, so it is possible to do service at one site and collect funds from both sources.

Can international students be Bonner Scholars?

Yes! International students are eligible to be Bonner Scholars. There are consistently multiple international students in every cohort.

Does financial support carry over during study away?

Bonner Scholars studying away are able to maintain financial support if they engage in service during their time away. Many study away programs integrate internships, and internships with nonprofit or government agencies can be used to satisfy the Bonner Scholars service requirement. Some students also pursue service opportunities independently. Most recently, Bonner Scholars have studied in Brazil, England, South Africa, and through the Border Studies Program.