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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 you will learn, students are empowered to be the author of their own experience.

Self-designed experience timeline

1. 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. 

2. 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. Students will receive approval to start the experience or a request for revisions by the 20th of the same month as the deadline.

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 advisor as soon as possible. Your 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.  

Looking for some inspriation? Check out our featured proposals! Note though that these proposals use an older format. Please maintain the new format and content.

3. Actively reflect throughout the experience

The On-going 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. The on-going reflection is one of the most important components that separates your activities as honors experiences, so explore and find the options the work best for you. 

4. Submit your Self-Designed Experience Reflection

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

  1. Gain clarity on your experience, what you did and learned, and how that impacts your future;
  2. Articulate your learning and the impact of the experience as part of your larger UC story;
  3. 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!

5. 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. 

Pooja Kashyap volunteering at an elementary school

Students pursue service activities that speak to their passions.

Kelsey Gibboney and the UC Women's Ultimate Team

Taking an active role within a student organization allows students to develop their leadership abilities.

Katie Wessler learning ballet

Students use self-designed experiences to learn and develop within target fields.