REAL 399 is a pass/fail undergraduate course that is directed by you, the student, to help you capture your advanced experiential learning activities on your transcript. It is a great way to bring visibility to something you may have been planning to do anyway - an internship that you coordinated on your own, for example, or a volunteer research experience you found — without adding any additional cost.
In addition to ensuring your experiential learning projects get the credit on your transcript they deserve, REAL 399 also ensure you have the knowledge and support of a VCU mentor behind you along the way.
Take charge of your story
Another perk of REAL 399: it can also be used to fulfill the REAL graduation requirement as well. So you're not only getting credit for all your career-building activities, you are also taking a big step toward graduation: all in a way that is custom built just for you!
Number of credit hours
REAL 399 can be taken for variable amount of academic credit, ranging from 0-3 credit hours. See below for more information on how to decide what number of credits is best for you, or why you'd pick a zero-credit option.
Don't forget: If a course is taken for academic credit, it will be assessed for tuition and fees accordingly. So you should talk with your academic advisor to decide what number of
How do I enroll for REAL 399?
To enroll in REAL 399, you'll need two things:
- An activity or project idea that's been approved by the REAL office
- A VCU faculty or staff member qualified (and willing!) to serve as your course supervisor and mentor. (The REAL office can help with this part, if you need a hand.)
Because both these things take some time, we encourage you to plan ahead and apply for enrollment in REAL 399 well in advance of the semester in which your project will take place.
To apply for REAL 399, you'll need to fill out our online application. This application will ask you for:
- Identification of a VCU faculty/staff mentor who agrees to evaluate your progress. Again, the REAL office can you help you find a mentor.
- If you are working with an external partner, such as a community organization or employer:
- The name and contact information of your supervisor at the placement site
- Documentation (such as an email) showing they have agreed to host you at their site
- Identification of the number of credits for which you wish to register (0- 3 credit hours)
- A 30-character title of the project to be used on the academic transcript
- A completed Integrated Learning Plan
Join us for a workshop!
Not sure where to start with REAL 399? Join us for one of our workshops and leave with a finished application!
Additional information about REAL 399
REAL 399 requires students to:
- Engage in an applied or “hands-on” learning project. This project should connect your skills and extend your understanding of:
- Professional identity and career preparation
- Community or civic identity
- Diversity and inclusion
- Global knowledge
- Work with a VCU faculty/staff mentor. This person will provide feedback on your reflections and progress, and assign your final course grade.
- Complete short, weekly online modules. These can be found on the REAL 399 Canvas course, and can be completed at your own pace.
- Submit written reflections that document the experience. These reflections will be submitted through Canvas, and will demonstrate your developing competence in integrative learning (your ability to connect knowledge and skills to complex situations beyond campus).
If you don't already have a VCU faculty or staff member in mind, the VCU REAL office can help you identify a mentor that will be perfect for your project. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please note: All mentors must complete the REAL Mentor Agreement form, so please make sure you send that along to them as soon as possible so that it doesn't hold up your application.
As mentioned above, REAL 399 can be taken for a varying number of credit hours (between 0-3 credits). The more credit hours, the greater the expected time commitment:
- Zero credit hours: Requires a minimum of 45 hours of hands-on learning per 15-week semester
- One credit hour: Requires a minimum of 45 hours of hands-on learning per 15-week semester
- Two credit hours: Requires a minimum of 90 hours of hands-on learning per 15-week semester
- Three credit hours: Requires a minimum of 135 hours of hands-on learning per 15-week semester
You should discuss these options with your academic advisor before submitting your application. If a course is taken for academic credit, it will be assessed for tuition and fees accordingly.
There are several reasons you might choose to take REAL 399 as a zero-credit course. For starters, zero-credit courses do not add credit hours to your tuition charges, but DO appear on your academic transcript. That means you can document that volunteer project or research experience without any financial impact.
Keep in mind, however:
- Students taking REAL 399 are still required to complete the online modules, written reflections, and participate in your hands-on project for a minimum of 15 contact hours
- A zero-credit course will not be counted into your enrollment or time status, so it will have no bearing on your enrollment verification, financial aid, loan deferment, and other aspects. (Which is why it is important to talk to your academic advisor so you know what you're getting into!)
- Failing grades, even in a zero-credit course, are included in your GPA, and could affect your financial aid eligibility.