Self-Designed Experiences

Students crossing street in autumn

Students have the opportunity to pursue their passions inside and outside their academic major through self-designed experiences. Self-designed experiences allow students to intentionally seek out and participate in opportunities that explore the UHP vision. They are unique opportunities where, unlike in seminars or pre-approved experiences where faculty, staff, or programs dictate the structure, students are empowered to be the author of their own experience.

Please note the UHP no longer provides honors grants for unpaid research or internships. Students can still complete these as self-designed honors experiences, but cannot receive a grant.

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 experience requirements. Students may also enroll in honors seminars or engage in a pre-approved experiences to complete their requirements. 

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.Replace this text component with your accordion's content.

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 provide you feedback.

All self-designed international travel experiences require proposals to be submitted two months in advance and must be at least one week in length. Specific deadlines for proposals that are independent of UC faculty or staff-led opportunities, official university student organizations, or partner organizations/exchanges are listed on our international travel page. Check in with your honors advisor if you are unsure about your deadline. For all trips, you will need a detailed itinerary (dates, locations and activities). If participating in independent travel, you must also complete a Worldwide: Honors Experience application via UC International to get approval.

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. 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 by the Honors Proposal Review committee. Your advisor will contact you by the 20th of the same month with the committee's approval to start the experience or a request for revisions. If revisions are required, you must submit your revised proposal no later than the 5th of the following month. Your advisor may request an earlier date depending on your exeprience start date.

Important note: Advisors will not consider proposals for experiences that have already passed. The value of a self-designed experience is realized when you can plan ahead and participate in the on-going reflection.

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 Proposals

Actively reflect throughout the experience

The ongoing reflection section of the proposal should lay out a plan for reflecting throughout the experience. 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. 

We recommend reviewing the list of alternative reflection examples and other tips before getting started. Your plans for a final reflection might help determine your methods for ongoing reflection.

The self-designed experience reflection is a unique requirement of self-designed experiences.

Purpose: Reflect upon your experience and articulate your learning and the impact of the experience.

Audience: You (and your honors advisor).

Guidelines: Use the following prompts to guide your reflection:

  • What happened in your experience? What did you learn connected to your experience and personal goals?
  • What impact did this experience have on you? Why does it matter to you and society?
  • How will this experience impact your future?

For additional inspiration regarding reflection, review “The Road to Critical Reflection.”

 The Road to Critical Reflection

Format: A written reflection or an alternative form of reflection. We recommend reviewing the list of alternative reflection examples and other tips before getting started. Suggested length for a written reflection to reach sufficient depth and breadth is 750 words.

Timeline: Submit your reflection to the UHP database within 1 month of the conclusion of the self-designed experience.

The learning portfolio showcase is a requirement for all honors experiences (honors seminars, pre-approved, and self-designed).

Purpose: To concisely share your honors experience with your learning portfolio audience. Note: This should not be the same as your self-designed experience reflection.

Audience: Anyone you share your learning portfolio link with or anyone who finds your learning portfolio through a public search (e.g. potential employers, graduate schools, faculty, staff, and family members).

Guidelines: Showcasing the experience in your learning portfolio consists of two elements:

  1. A concise summary of the experience– explain what the experience involved, what you learned, and how it has impacted you;
  2. A sample of work from your experience and/or something that exemplifies your learning. Within your showcase, explain why you chose this sample.

Format: A concise written reflection (~200 words) or an alternative form of reflection and a sample of your work (e.g. paper, photograph, blog entries).

Timeline: Post your experience showcase to your learning portfolio within one month of the conclusion of the experience. 

Exemplary Showcases

Video for self-designed experience Scarves 4 Kids by Asia Werner.