Experiences

A strengthened understanding and expanded perspective comes when honors students extend learning beyond boundaries, stretch into new spaces, and apply what they’ve learned.

Enhanced Learning Experiences

To graduate with honors, students complete four distinct Enhanced Learning Experiences (ELEs) from eight possible areas listed below. Their descriptions are not exhaustive, and some valuable learning experiences may not fit neatly into the categories listed. Students are welcome to propose alternative experiences for review and approval by University Honors Program staff and faculty through the ELE Inquiry Form.

Description and qualifying activities: This ELE enables students to gain awareness and experience with social responsibility through service to others. Students may complete this ELE by completing the Service Learning Certificate or accumulating at least 45 documented hours of public service to philanthropic organizations or service efforts, including KU-related, community, or self-initiated efforts. 

Reflection question: This ELE's reflection consists of three parts: For the first paragraph, please summarize concisely what you did and the activity(ies) time commitment(s). Next, explain the ways in which this experience prepared you to be an engaged and responsible citizen. Finally, tie your experience back to your education: how has this experience shaped your learning?

Description and qualifying activities: This ELE challenges students to be engaged, responsible society members who understand privilege and respect the experiences of others. Qualifying experiences include engagement with Common Cause, participation in a diversity-oriented scholars program, involvement in a DEI committee or task force, or leadership of an organization that promotes social justice through their mission and activities. 

Reflection question: This ELE's reflection consists of three parts: For the first paragraph, please summarize concisely what you did and the activity(ies) time commitment(s). Next, please address one of the following questions: 1.) How did this experience expand your understanding of cultural literacy and social justice as it applies to not just the organization you were affiliated with, but the broader KU and Lawrence communities? 2.) How did this experience illuminate your own personal privileges, and how will you apply that knowledge to actionable change moving forward, or 3.) How did this experience illuminate, validate, and/or center your experience as a person of color – and how did that change you? Finally, tie your experience back to your education: how has this experience shaped your learning?

Description and qualifying activities: This ELE prepares students to understand, adapt to, and thrive in a diverse global environment. For this ELE, students may complete the Global Awareness Program (GAP), participate in an approved study abroad experience, be selected as a Global Scholar, or fulfill a valid curricular experience. International students may also complete the KU Core’s GE 4.1 goal.

Reflection question: This ELE's reflection consists of three parts: For the first paragraph, please summarize concisely what you did and the activity(ies) time commitment(s). Next, how did this experience challenge your understanding of difference in the world – and what is the value of those differences? Finally, tie your experience back to your education: how has this experience shaped your learning?

Description and qualifying activities: This ELE encourages students to actively participate in the arts, or to develop a critical appreciation of them. Students may complete the Arts Engagement Certification, participate for at least two semesters in a musical ensemble as a non-music major, gain at least 45 hours of engagement with an arts organization, or contribute to or curate an exhibition or publication.

Reflection question: This ELE's reflection consists of three parts: For the first paragraph, please summarize concisely what you did and the activity(ies) time commitment(s). Next, what motivated you to embark on this creative endeavor? What part of your background and experiences shine through in your creative work, and why? Or, how have you better understood the background and experiences of others through their creative work? Finally, tie your experience back to your education: how has this experience shaped your learning?

Description and qualifying activities: This ELE encourages students to prepare for their professional careers. Completing the Certificate of Entrepreneurship, the Certificate in Professional Selling, the Certificate in Music Enterprise, a 45-hour internship or shadowing experience, or a 40-hour student teaching or a teaching practicum satisfies this ELE, as does creating a start-up.

Reflection question: This ELE's reflection consists of three parts: For the first paragraph, please summarize concisely what you did and the activity(ies) time commitment(s). Next, choose a question to answer: either 1.) what new skills did you acquire as a result of this experience and how do you expect them to impact your future or 2.) In what ways did this experience confirm your assumptions about the field and your future place in it – or challenge them? And how? Finally, tie your experience back to your education: how has this experience shaped your learning?

Description and qualifying activities: This ELE challenges students to assume leadership responsibilities, effecting change in their communities and beyond. Students may earn the Leadership Engagement Certificate, fill a position in Student Senate, serve for a minimum of two semesters as a teaching assistant or leader of a campus or community organization, take a role as an honors ambassador or seminar assistant, or complete either the SELF Program or Business Leadership Program.

Reflection question: This ELE's reflection consists of three parts: For the first paragraph, please summarize concisely what you did and the activity(ies) time commitment(s). Next, tell us about a specific experience that challenged you to take a smart risk, enact positive change, or practice inclusive leadership. How did that experience change you? Finally, tie your experience back to your education: how has this experience shaped your learning?

Description and qualifying activities: This ELE helps students learn how to locate and evaluate information, solve problems, think creatively, and communicate their findings. Examples include earning departmental honors, receiving an Undergraduate Research Award (UGRA), publishing research work in a peer-reviewed journal, and presenting at a professional or academic conference, such as the Undergraduate Research Symposium. Students may also participate in Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) or at least two semesters of faculty-led undergraduate research. They may also complete a research internship or at least two research-intensive courses at the 700 level or above.

Reflection question: This ELE's reflection consists of three parts: For the first paragraph, please summarize concisely what you did and the activity(ies) time commitment(s). Next, describe a time when the research was challenging. How did you move past the challenge and persevere? Regardless of the result, what did it reveal to you about yourself and the discovery process? Finally, tie your experience back to your education: how has this experience shaped your learning?

Description and qualifying activities: This ELE enables students to integrate learning across departmental and disciplinary boundaries. Interdisciplinarity learning fosters innovation and flexibility of thinking and problem solving. Students may complete two majors or a major and a minor in different academic divisions (or schools, for students pursuing a major within a professional school) or complete the Sustainability Certificate to fulfill this ELE. Students should contact their advisor to confirm that a program or degree path qualifies.

Reflection question: This ELE's reflection consists of three parts: For the first paragraph, please summarize concisely what you did and the activity(ies) time commitment(s). Next, tell us about a specific time your thinking was flexible or your problem-solving was enhanced thanks to this interdisciplinary experience. What is the value of interdisciplinarity in addressing issues that matter? Finally, tie your experience back to your education: how has this experience shaped your learning?

Funding an ELE

Students can fund their ELE activities with an Honors Opportunity Award (HOA), which are given four times a year to support activities like study abroad programs, off-campus research, and more.

ELE completion

To complete an ELE, students post a reflection that typically consist of three parts: a paragraph summarizing concisely what a student did and the time commitment; another paragraph (unique to each ELE) that explains the ways in which the experience expanded their understanding, perspective, skills, or preparedness; and a concluding paragraph that describes how the experience shaped learning. In order to maintain relevance and significance, reflection should be submitted within one semester of an ELE’s conclusion.

ELE submission

When you’re ready to submit a description and reflection for your ELE, visit elcerts.ku.edu. Some tips:

  • Share specific experiences. Each should illustrate an instance of learning.
  • Answer all three parts of the prompt. It's surprisingly easy to skip one.
  • Don't overthink it. If you miss something, you'll be notified to resubmit.
  • Reflections must be a minimum of 500 words. Aim for a length that is "reasonable but meaningful."
  • Use the ELE Hours Tracking Form (.xlsx) as a supporting document, if helpful.