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Experiential Learning

Please note that this page has been updated to reflect changes and new options in light of COVID-19.


A hallmark of the Honors College involves bringing ideas to life. One of the ways the honors experience differs from the traditional university experience is through the honors experiential learning component.

This requirement will be a little different for the 2020-2021 academic year. We will NOT require that students engage in any face-to-face activities, including volunteering. In fact, we have developed alternative activities designed to help students think about their growth and development within the goals and ideas of the Honors College’s experiential learning requirement and with a focus on their futures.

The Honors College sees experiential learning activities falling into the following three categories, and we will discuss the 2020-2021 options with reference to them. Click on the gold links for full details.

This section includes activities in the classroom or the research environment that are beyond being a typical student.

Academic activities that fulfill the experiential learning requirement include:

Study Abroad: All study abroad trips and exchange programs developed and led through the Office of Global Engagement.

Undergraduate Research Projects (Outside the parameters of the Honors Thesis): Independent research mentored by a faculty member, research assistant positions, and opportunities like National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates.

Please note that for student-initiated research projects to count for the experiential learning requirement, they must follow at least three criteria: 1) the research cannot be a class assignment, 2) the research cannot be work for the thesis and 3) the research must be mentored by a faculty member.

Peer Leaders: Students may apply to be a Peer Leader through the The Office of First- and Second-Year Programs.  If selected, completion of a semester as a peer leader will fulfill the yearly requirement.

Undergraduate Student Teaching Assistantships and Supplemental Instructors: Teaching assistantships and supplemental instructor positions are available for academically strong and talented students in certain departments. See your department for these opportunities.

Internships, Co-ops, Student Teaching, Clinical Hours in Nursing and Health Sciences: Internships and co-ops must be for academic credit through the student’s academic major or minor OR registered through the Office of Career and Professional Development.

These options involve direct service with community organizations, alternative break trips, and service-learning experiences.

The majority of honors students beyond the first year complete a service-learning or volunteer project to fulfill the requirement. Many students also participate on an alternative break trip or participate in other pre-approved service-learning/volunteer projects. (Holding a leadership position for a student organization is not volunteering. Please use the leadership option for those projects.)

Please note that at least 25 service hours with your chosen organization are required if you wish to use service-learning to fulfill your experiential learning requirement.

Note for academic year 2020-2021: Many community organizations off-campus and certain offices on-campus offices still have volunteer opportunities and have made efforts to have safe and socially distant volunteer experiences. You are welcome to volunteer with them, if you want. Remember, the Honors College is not requiring face-to-face, in-person volunteer experiences.

If you are interested in an alternative break trip, please visit our alternative break trips page.

Students who take on a significant leadership role in an officially recognized student organization may use that experience to satisfy the requirement.  Please note that students who select this option must hold the position for at least one semester during the academic year.

Experiential Learning for Honors Students in an FYE Class

Honors students in honors sections of the first-year experience seminar will focus on exploring potential experiential learning activities that they might engage during their later years in the program. They will choose an activity within each category above, and submit a short assignment on these potential activities in their FYE class.

Students in Honors FYE will not complete surveys this year.

Students Beyond the FYE Class Have Two Options: Traditional and New

We have two different options for older students: We will allow traditional options to count, if a student wishes to do so, or students may choose to work on their individual growth and professional development. Please note: The Honors College is not requiring that students engage in face-to-face activities to fulfill experiential learning this year.

Traditional Options

If a student has secured one of the traditional options and would like to use this activity for the requirement they may do so. This includes virtual versions of activities, too: online internships, virtual student teaching, virtual volunteer experiences, etc.

New Option for 2020-2021

We are happy to offer a new option this year that is focused on student growth and development. For this option, students will engage in activities–including virtual activities–where they can explore their chosen career or develop skills in new ways.

Students will seek out and choose activities to engage in such as: conferences, webinars, workshops, career exploration activities, resume and cover letter development and other options that help a student prepare for their future. We do not require a minimum or maximum of activities or hours in this category.  In the spring, we will ask for a brief report on your chosen activities and how these helped you grow, develop, and prepare for the next steps after Georgia Southern.

Need ideas for the new option? Talk to your professors and advisors for information on conferences or webinars in your fields or from your department and college. Also, be sure to check with the Office of Career and Professional Development for virtual professional development opportunities and take a look at Handshake while you’re there.

Summary of Steps

Regardless of the option a student chooses, they will still need to follow these steps:

  • Honors students not in FYE class will still complete the Experiential Learning Activity surveys. In the fall, students will select their plans in the registration survey, and in the spring students will reflect and tell us what they learned in the reflection survey.
  • As with previous years, we will expect the fall registration survey to be complete by September 30, and the spring reflection survey to be complete by April 30.
  • Failure to complete any of these steps may result in removal from the Honors College.
  • Note for fall semester graduates: If you begin your final semester with one last experiential learning activity to complete, then you must complete it during your final semester. A reflection survey will be sent in mid November and due by the last day of fall classes.
  • Note on summer projects: Students who engaged in an activity over the summer who wish to have it count for the 2020-2021 school year should contact Dr. Desiderio.

Any questions? Please contact Dr. Francis Desiderio at

We look forward to returning to our typical in-person and face-to-face activities in the 2021-2022 school year.

Last updated: 2/8/2021