Center for Engaged Learning

Preparing students 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 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. Watch our student testimonial videos to hear from previous CARDS EXCEL participants about their engaged learning experiences. 

How does it work?

  • Complete two or more qualifying engaged learning experiences from at least one of the five categories—Conceptualize, Adventure, Research, Develop and Serve.
  • During your graduating semester, submit a CARDS EXCEL distinction application including reflections on each experience. Applications will be completed through the InfoReady system. Students graduating in May 2024 must submit their completed application by April 28, 2024.
  • The Center for Engaged Learning team will review your application. If approved, you may pick up your cord for graduation during the week of May 6-10, 2024 from the Center for Engaged Learning office.
  • Wear your cords in graduation and 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
  • Creative humanities
  • Mentored research experience
  • 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 Organization Leadership
  • Clinical experiences
  • Student Government Position
  • Greek Life Leadership 
  • REACH Peer Tutor or Academic Coach
  • ROTC
  • Student Athlete 


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 reflection with CARDS EXCEL distinction application.

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. The benefits of taking the time to reflect on engaged learning experiences include:

  • Links academic knowledge to real world experiences through transfer of learning
  • Challenges students to assign meaning to their engaged learning experiences
  • Understand and be able to communicate specific skills and experiences which can be useful for resumes, applications, and interviews for jobs and further educational opportunities

Submitting a Reflection

To earn the CARDS EXCEL distinction, you will need to submit reflections for each of your qualifying engaged learning experiences. Each reflection will be submitted as part of your CARDS EXCEL application for distinction.

Submit the application through InfoReady during the semester that you are graduating

May 2024 graduates: Submit reflections and application by April 28, 2024.

Reflections will be evaluated against the CARDS EXCEL Reflection Rubric, we encourage students to review the rubric prior to completing the CARDS EXCEL application.

We strongly encourage you to type your responses and save them in a document prior to submitting through the InfoReady system. You can download the reflection questions here (requires logging into UofL system). When in the InfoReady system, be sure to click the save button while working on your application to ensure your responses are saved as a draft until you are ready to submit.

If you have applied but have not received an email from InfoReady regarding the status of your application, we most likely do not have your application. Please contact to confirm your eligibility and that we have received your application

Reflection Questions

If you would like to review the reflection questions ahead of time, view the boxes below or download the reflection questions. You will submit your reflections with your application for CARDS EXCEL during the semester you are graduating. Applications will be submitted through InfoReady.

Students will provide general information about the engaged learning experience including:.

  • Type of engaged learning experience
  • If the experience was for academic credit
  • If the experience had an hourly rate or stipend included
  • Experience start and end dates
  • Total number of hours involved in the experience
  • Location of the experience
  • Contact information for someone who can share about your participation

Students will be asked to provide detailed responses to the following reflection questions:

  1. Provide a clear and detailed description of your participation, activities, and responsibilities in the engaged learning experience.
  2. Describe how you were able to apply, or make relevant, the knowledge, skills, or concepts you learned in your coursework as part of the engaged learning experience, and what new skills or knowledge did you gain?
  3. Describe how this engaged learning experience required you to analyze and/or evaluate information or situation in new ways.
  4. Describe how the assumptions and perceptions you had about the community, culture, environment, or workplace were challenge or affirmed by your engaged learning experience.
  5. How has participating in this engaged learning experience advanced your future academic and/or professional goals? Describe how this experience helped deepen your understanding of yourself, including your passions, interests, and values.


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 undergraduate 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 during the semester that you are graduating after completing two engaged learning experiences.

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

Undergraduate students enrolled at UofL at the launch of CARDS EXCEL in spring 2023, will be allowed to submit previous experience following the timelines listed below based on their expected graduation year:

Graduation Year Timeframe for Prior Experience to be Included
2024 August 2019 – Graduating Semester
2025 August 2020 – Graduating Semester
2026 August 2021 – Graduating Semester
2027 August 2022 – Graduating Semester