Center for Engaged Learning

Preparing students beyond the classroom through real-world experience, exploration and reflection


CARDS (Conceptualize, Adventure, Research, Develop, Serve) EXCEL (Expand the Classroom through Engaged Learning)

Engaged learning allows you to expand your knowledge beyond the classroom and gain skills to further prepare you for life after graduation. Students who complete two or more qualifying engaged learning activities and submit reflections on those experiences are eligible to earn the CARDS EXCEL distinction cord at graduation.

How does it work?

  • Create an account on Cardinal Careers and complete the CARDS EXCEL program interest form through the Pathways module which is located within the resources section.
  • Complete two or more qualifying engaged learning experiences from at least one of the five categories—Conceptualize, Adventure, Research, Develop and Serve.
  • Submit reflections on each experience through Cardinal Careers no more than 60 days after the end of the semester in which the experience was completed. 
  • Apply for the CARDS EXCEL distinction through Cardinal Careers no later than 45 days prior to graduation.
  • Pick up cord for graduation.
  • Celebrate your accomplishment!


The CARDS EXCEL program encourages students to develop skills and career-readiness competencies through participation in engaged learning experiences. To earn the CARDS EXCEL distinction, you will need to complete two experiences that fall under the engaged learning categories of Conceptualize, Adventure, Research, Develop, or Service. Students are encouraged, but not required, to complete two experiences from two different categories.


Engage in conceptualization, application and entrepreneurship, examples include:

  • Business plan competitions
  • Hackathon
  • Industry projects
  • Capstone projects
  • Student competitions


Seek adventure by engaging with the global community, examples include:

  • Study abroad
  • International Service Learning Program (ISLP)
  • International internships
  • International co-ops
  • International research experiences


Improve lives through research, creativity and discovery, examples include:

  • Visual & performing arts
  • Maker Faire participation
  • Creative humanities
  • STEAM + H mentored research
  • Intensive summer research experiences


Hone career and leadership skills to apply to future career endeavors, examples include:

  • Co-ops
  • Internships
  • Practicums
  • Field experiences
  • Student teaching
  • Student Organizations
  • Clinical experiences
  • Student government
  • Greek life
  • ROTC


Serve your local and global community through community engagement opportunities, examples include:

  • Service learning
  • K-12 outreach


For an engaged learning experience to qualify for the CARDS EXCEL distinction, it must:

  • Involve a minimum of 15 total hours of involvement during one semester.
  • Involve a hands-on learning experience.
  • Provide the opportunity to develop skills and career readiness competencies such as critical thinking, communication, leadership, professionalism, teamwork, and technology.
  • Include a student reflection following completion of the experience.

For part-time jobs and work study positions that are not internships, co-ops, or apprenticeships, the experience must be directly related to your major(s) or minor(s).

Note: Experiences below the minimum may be considered depending on the experience and depth of learning, however, no experience of less than 10 hours can be counted for the CARDS EXCEL program.


Reflection is a critical component of engaged learning, linking your experience to learning outcomes, enhancing your academic understanding and increasing awareness of how your work impacts the community.

Submitting a Reflection

To earn the CARDS EXCEL distinction, you will need to submit reflections for each of your qualifying engaged learning experiences through the Pathways section of Cardinal Careers. Each reflection must be submitted no more than 60 days after the end of the semester in which the experience was completed. 


For each reflection, you will need to:

  • Clearly outline the required activity and your responsibilities in the engaged learning experience.
  • Provide a detailed explanation of how the engaged learning experience connects to your professional and/or personal goals.
  • Clearly detail what you learned by participating in the engaged learning experience.
  • Describe in detail the specific skills and career competencies that you gained by participating in the engaged learning experience.
  • Provide the name and contact information for a person who can verify the experience.

Submit a reflection


Only experiences completed while enrolled as a student at UofL can be considered for the CARDS EXCEL distinction.

No, CARDS EXCEL is an optional program that students can choose to participate in.

Yes, currently the CARDS EXCEL program is focused on undergraduate students.

You may only apply for CARDS EXCEL distinction after submitting your interest form, completing two experiences, and submitting your two reflections through Cardinal Careers.

The Center for Engaged Learning partners with groups across campus to offer comprehensive and coordinated engaged learning opportunities.

  • Academic departments/faculty
  • University Advancement
  • Advising
  • Career Services: UofL, College of Business, Speed School of Engineering
  • Community Engagement
  • Cultural Center
  • Delphi Center for Teaching and Learning
  • Industry Partnerships
  • University Libraries
  • Office of Research and Innovation (EVPRI)
  • ROTC
  • Study abroad
  • ISLP
  • Student Affairs/Student Involvement Office
  • SGA
  • RSOs
Graduation Year Timeframe for Prior Experience to be Included
2023 August 2018 – Graduating Semester
2024 August 2019 – Graduating Semester
2025 August 2020 – Graduating Semester
2026 August 2021 – Graduating Semester
2027 August 2022 – Graduating Semester