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Self-Designed Experiences

Students have the opportunity to pursue their passions inside and outside their academic major through self-designed experiences. These self-designed experiences allow students to more intentionally seek out and participate in opportunities encompassing our five thematic areas. Below is the timeline of self-designed experiences. Below the timeline, each step is explained in greater detail.

Self-designed experiences are just one option for completing honors requirements. Students may also enroll in honors seminars or engage in a pre-approved experiences to complete their requirements. They are unique opportunities where unlike in seminars or pre-approved experiences where faculty, staff, or programs dictate the lessons, students are empowered to be the author of their own experience.

Work with your honors advisor

While many students independently conceive of their self-designed experience, some would like extra support from their honors advisor to brainstorm ideas for their experiences, prospective project advisors, opportunities to share your learning, or other questions. 

Students will prepare for proposals and thus experiences in different ways, but each requires a bit of research and reflection before the proposal can be started. Whether you have an experience in mind or you're starting from scratch, we encourage you to start thinking about what you hope to learn. This is the core to an honors experience, because you'll need to connect your experience to our learning outcomes. Then make a list of activities, approaches or opportunities that will be the essential components of your experience as well as any resources you will need.

Honors advisors or potential experience advisors are fantastic people to help you consider options, additional ideas, and resources. They can assist you as you draw on your passions, skills, and goals to shape your personalized learning experience.

Submit a proposal

The proposal is a required component of self-designed experiences. Please use the standard proposal form (below). Please maintain the format of the proposal. It's important when we go to provide you feedback.

We suggest submitting proposals 1-2 months in advance of your start date, but all proposals for international experiences are required to be submitted at least two months prior to the start date.

Proposals must be submitted to the database and approved BEFORE a project begins.  The deadline to submit proposals to the database is 11:59pm on the 5th of every month (except July). You may submit a proposal to the database at any time; there is no need to wait until a deadline to submit. Your proposal will be reviewed with all other submissions for the upcoming deadline. Advisors will take two weeks to review and provide feedback. If you've submitted a proposal by the deadline, you will receive approval to start the experience or a request for revisions by the 20th of the same month.

Advisors will not consider proposals for experiences that have already been completed or even if most of the substantive experience has already passed. 

Important note: 

You may be invited to participate in activities that you want to use as a part of your experience, but there may be less than a month to submit your proposal before your experience would start. You should communicate this to your honors advisor as soon as possible. Your honors advisor may be willing to work with you off-cycle in these rare instances. It's also important to note that start and end dates for experiences are completely up to you as the student to define. There may be instances in longer experiences where you might benefit from starting the honors experience later than your first date of the activity.  

Exemplary Sample Proposals

To gain a better understanding of the proposal process and/or the types of experiences students propose, we encourage you to look through the following examples.

Actively reflect throughout the experience

The ongoing reflection section of the proposal should lay out a plan for reflecting throughout the experience. The reflection page has recommendations for creating reflection plans. The active reflection should begin at the project start date and continue through the project end date.

If you realize that your plan to reflect throughout the experience isn't working, feel free to switch. In fact, this change in plans is a great opportunity for you to utilize your new plan. This part of the experience is for your own benefit, so find a method and practice that you find personally effective and rewarding. The ongoing reflection is one of the most important components that separates your activities as honors experiences, so an essential part of the experience can be to explore what works best for you. 

Submit your experience reflection

The self-designed experience reflection is a unique requirement of self-designed experiences. The self-designed experience reflection provides an opportunity for you to:

  • Gain clarity on your experience, what you did and learned, and how that impacts your future;
  • Articulate your learning and the impact of the experience as part of your larger UC story;
  • Finalize your self-designed honors experience. While we know that your learning will continue well after an experience, it’s important to have a touchpoint to formally complete the honors experience.

You are the primary audience for this reflection; it is for the purpose of your learning. Your honors advisor is the only other person who will review your reflection.


You may submit a written reflection or use an alternative form of reflection.  If you choose an alternative form of reflection, provide a brief written interpretation of the reflective piece to provide context for your advisor.

We encourage you to think through the what, so what, now what format when reflecting on your experience. Here are sample questions to guide your reflection:

  • What did my experience involve? What did I like/dislike? What emotions did the experience elicit?
  • Did my experience change from what was originally planned? If so, how and why?
  • What did I learn?
  • How did I change and grow academically, professionally, and/or personally?
  • How will I take the learning and growth from this experience and apply it to other areas of my life?
  • How will this experience help me prepare for the future?
Note: You are not required to answer any specific questions. Suggested length for a written reflection to reflect in sufficient depth and breadth is 750 words.


Self-designed experience reflections must be submitted to the UHP database (or received by your advisor in the case that you do not have a file to upload) within 1 month of the conclusion of the self-designed experience. Looking for examples of previous reflections? You can find our featured reflections!

Exemplary Sample Experience Reflections

We encourage you to choose methods and approaches to reflections that are personally meaningful and holistic. A reflection not only provides a summary of the entire experience. It can be a framework to improve your understanding of the world and your place in it. It's your time to articulate its meaning and significance to you and then consider future opportunities to apply those lessons. Here are a few examples of how some of our students have reflected on their experience.

Showcase your experience within your learning portfolio

All experiences are not considered complete until they have been shwocased within your learning portfolio. The Showcase Guide provides a framework to use in showcasing your experiences within your learning portfolio. Showcasing is due within a month of the experience's conclusion. 

Remember, this is the only part of your experience that may be public for others to see. You usually have a much broader audience that can include family, friends, faculty, university staff, future employers, or strangers from all around the world of all ages and cultures. We encourage you to take this opportunity to briefly introduce the experience and highlight some of the lessons you took away.