What Is a Community Immersion Program?

Community immersion programs are designed to get prospective or existing college or university students acquainted with issues in their local communities or abroad. Students usually do some volunteer work on service projects that deal with environmental, social or economic issues the community faces. Field trips, meetings with local leaders and social activities with those in the community are also common.

Community immersion programs can fulfill different purposes. Some of them are designed to help first-year college students adjust to the new community and make connections with each other and other residents. Some schools also offer the programs as a research opportunity or as a mandatory course requirement. There are others that are designed for students to visit another country and experience the life of another culture.

Some topics students in a community immersion program may explore include intergroup relations, entrepreneurship, social change, the community’s history and changes residents face. As part of the program, students may help out at local soup kitchens, host social activities for a community group such as seniors, clean trash from roads or trails, plan activities with children or help individuals with their jobs. The programs can last from a few days to several weeks, depending on the purpose.