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Complementary Learning

Due In:


Satisfying your Complementary Learning Requirement


When you are ready to submit your project:  Visit the submission form (log in required)


Spell-checking your submission and writing with developed language are expected from Honors students.



Submissions are subject to verification. Anyone found providing false information on the submission will be automatically dismissed from the Honors Program in accordance with RIT’s Academic Dishonesty Policy. Therefore, please ensure that you have met all of the requirements before the annual deadline. By clicking "Submit", you acknowledge that the information provided in your submission is accurate and true.


You will receive an email if your submission is received. If there is no e-mail response, please contact the Complementary Learning Advisors with ample time before the submission deadline.


Please note: All activities are subject to approval by the Complementary Learning Advisors and Program Directors.




Complementary Learning Advisors—who are also Honors students—may host an information session in the fall. This optional session is intended to advise and provide options for students working on their Complementary Learning projects, as well as allowing students to get to know their Advisors.


Your Comp Learning activities must be at least 20 hours and be related to citizenship or leadership. the Complementary Learning Advisors review the activities after they are submitted on the Honors web site.  Complementary Learning activities can consist of multiple activities which total 20 hours.  All 20 hours must be completed between the deadline of the previous year and the current deadline. Incoming first year students cannot use activities performed prior to graduating from high school.  No extensions will be granted. Students cannot appeal if they have not submitted 20 hours by the deadline. It is strongly encouraged that you meet with a Complementary Learning Advisor if you have any questions about your project’s acceptability.


Early Submission

As an incentive for submitting Complementary Learning by January 1st, accepted submissions will be entered into a drawing for a prize (the prize is subject to change). The drawing will be opened only for students submitting all 20 hours by January 1st. Additionally, there may be more than one drawing before the annual deadline. The benefits of this incentive system are two-fold: by completing your annual requirement significantly before the deadline, you may win a prize if your project is accepted. It also gives the Complementary Learning Advisors time to respond faster than they would during the last minute rush about any necessary changes to your project.


Submission Deadline

The deadline for Complementary Learning submissions is the first Friday in March by 11:59pm.  For students graduating at the end of the fall semester and for students completing their degree program requirements during the intersession, Comp Learning is due the first Friday of November by 11:59pm. A confirmation e-mail is sent to the student’s RIT e-mail account shortly after a submission is received. Students who do not submit Complementary Learning activities of at least 20 hours by the deadline will be withdrawn from the Honors Program.


Appeals Process

Students who have submitted an original Complementary Learning activity totaling 20 hours by the deadline and whose activity is not approved can appeal the Comp Learning decision.  If the activity is not approved, students can meet with the Program Director and Assistant Director to discuss the determination.  The appeal period ends on April 1, 2016, the Friday after spring break.  Students whose Complementary Learning activities are not approved will be withdrawn from the Honors Program.  


Additional Notes

First year students who begin their Comp Learning in the summer before their freshman year (but after their high school graduation) may submit that time for Complementary Learning hours. For all returning Honors students, any activities begun after last year’s submission deadline date will count towards the current year’s submission.


Activities That Do Count for Complementary Learning

As a guide for Honors students, a list of projects/experiences/etc... that do count for Complementary Learning has been created.  This list is not exhaustive; if there is an activity that you would like to pursue which is not listed, you are expected to consult the Complementary Learning Advisors to verify its acceptability.


List of Activities that do count for Complementary Learning



  • Providing basic needs such as food, water, shelter, clothing, medical supplies or services.
  • Teaching or Tutoring: These should be unpaid or significantly below minimum wage with an established organization (high school, RIT, Mary's Place, etc.)
  • Miscellaneous volunteering include active Honors Committee membership (see the section on Honors Council & Committee Comp Learning for a detailed definition of "active membership"); assisting Honors Committees (hanging posters, organizing events, etc.) and volunteering at events.  In addition to the Honors Program, these activities include volunteering at animal shelters, nursing homes, Margaret's House, WE overnights (not including time spent asleep), Fundraising walks (time spent raising money, helping at the event and walking), The Gandhi Institute, and/or volunteering at a public institution or non-profit organization.  
  • Imagine RIT Volunteer or Exhibitor:  This activity includes time spent as an official Imagine RIT Volunteer and/or time spent at the event demonstrating your exhibit.  If you receive academic credit for your exhibit or are paid for the work related to the exhibit, then it does not count.


The aforementioned activities include community service organizations that students have previously used for their Complementary Learning activities. More service organizations can be found here.


Alternatively, you can go to the RIT Center for Leadership & Civic Engagement, which is located at:


RIT Campus Center
Building 3
Suite A610



  • Within Honors:  leadership includes being an Honors Mentor, Council Member and/or Committee Chair.
  • In addition to Honors:  leadership includes being an RA, OL and mentor for other pre-orientation programs, SG, Varsity Sport Captain, e-board member of a club or major student organization (unpaid) and/or planning a service event.


For any service or leadership experience that does not fit in these categories, seek pre-approval from your Complementary Learning Advisors at



Activities That Do Not Count for Complementary Learning

As a guide for Honors students, a list of projects/experiences/etc… that do not count for Complementary Learning has been created. This list is not exhaustive, and a student with questions about his or her project is expected to consult a Complementary Learning Advisor. 


List of Activities That Do Not Count for Complementary Learning

  • Paid positions (jobs or co-ops) with the exception of Honors Mentor, Orientation Assistant, Resident Advisor.
  • Non-paid positions (such as internships or research – even if not done for credit) whose purpose is to further your academic knowledge.
  • Simple membership in a group or club, with the exception of being an active member in service groups, such as Habitat for Humanity, Rotary Club, etc.
  • Any activity that counts for Honors points.
  • An activity that benefits students and their families and friends rather than the community at large; for example studying abroad, tutoring friends, planning a trip for friends, or a musical performance.
  • Travel time to and from Comp Learning activities.  Car pool drivers can count time, but it cannot count for more than 25% of their time for an event.
  • Some activities completed last year will no longer count for Complementary Learning:  Independent tutoring of friends or family members, donating blood at a blood drive, running a charity 5K, and captain of an intramural team.

Academic knowledge can be used to benefit the community for Complementary Learning.  For example, going to speak/present at an academic conference would not qualify for Complementary Learning; however, going to a school and teaching students about college or your major would count towards your Comp Learning time requirement.


Comp Learning with Honors Committees and Honors Council

For time with Honors Committees to be eligible for Complementary Learning, students must meet the requirements of active committee membership.  Active committee membership is defined as follows:

  • 2 hours in Official Committee Meetings
  • 2 hours of additional, out-of-meeting work
  • 5 hours total

Comp Learning Examples

English Language Teaching Assistant in China

“With the recent set up of English corner and some English teaching resources, China Care Fund Ltd. aims to further develop students’ interest and ability in English. The school has qualified English teachers giving them regular English lessons to prepare them for the university entrance public examination. Yet, in the face of China’s booming economy and its increasing need of fluent English speakers, China Care Fund Ltd. believes that English oral courses will open them up to better job opportunities. As an English language teaching assistant, I interacted with students from Teng Xian High School on an academic and social level using English and Chinese and assisted multiple teachers in teaching different subject matters including etiquette, phonetics and social awareness.


“As a TA, my job was not only to teach the high school-aged students concepts and words, but also to provide them with a comfortable and non-judgemental environment in which they could practice spoken English. I had to adapt to their culture and play to their individual strengths, and instill in them the will to be confident. I have done this for three years, and through the years have gotten to know the best ways to teach basic English and encourage speaking. They, in turn, had to learn to open up and discipline themselves to practice, and to talk to us whenever possible in order to take advantage of all English-speaking opportunities.”


Volunteer Rescue Horse Caretaker

“Volunteering at Gentle Giants Draft Horse Rescue. This included doing barn chores such as feeding and turning out horses, mucking stalls, cleaning water buckets and general barn cleaning. This also included interacting with the horses and giving them positive human interaction. Many of the horses there come from situations of abuse or neglect, so they can be aggressive or wary of humans. Volunteers help to groom them and try to provide enjoyable human interaction with them to make them more adoptable.

“My volunteering has impacted the Gentle Giants Draft Horse Rescue and it's residents very positively. This rescue is has a very small staff, so they rely largely on volunteers to help take care of the horses and get chores done. Thus, my volunteering was very beneficial to them. I helped them to finish the many chores involved in running a horse farm, including feeding, mucking stalls, cleaning water buckets, and many more. However, the biggest impact of my volunteer hours is on the horses themselves. Many of them come from situations of neglect or abuse, and so they are fearful of or aggressive towards humans. Every positive human interaction they have helps them to not only become happier at the rescue, but ultimately more adoptable so they can find their permanent home.”


Volunteer Men's Varsity Soccer Assistant Coach

“I was the volunteer varsity assistance coach for the men's varsity soccer team. I coached at practices and games to help the team improve and get better. I scouted other teams in video sessions and review our games in video sessions with the fellow coaches. I met with players to talk about how they were performing as soccer players and to see how their personal lives and school was going

“Coaching allowed me to share my knowledge and experiences with the players. It helped me to become a mentor and guide to younger students. I have been looking for opportunities to be a mentor and this gave me great experience. I am excited to look for more mentoring and counseling positions in the future. I really enjoyed listening to their problems and giving my advice with school and with life in general. It helped me understand the great difficulties that come along with coaching a team. I believe I helped the players out and certainly grew a lot myself from the experience.”


Restoration & Maintenance of the USS Slater

“Volunteering on the USS Slater: This activity involved general volunteer work on the USS Slater. The USS Slater is a WW2 era destroyer escort located in the port of Albany, NY. The ship was sold to Greece after the war and then bought back, having lost most of its functionality. The Slater is maintained solely by a volunteer organization (comprised mostly of former veterans) who work to restore the ship to its immediate post-war conditions. Since I worked in disjointed intervals due to being in Poughkeepsie on co-op and not Albany for the majority of the summer, the work that I did on the ship was general restoration. I stripped old paint off of devices such that they could be repainted, I replaced wires that were frayed, and cleaned out air vents or ducts what had become clogged or dirty. I also worked in part to clean out one of the engine rooms below deck that had fallen into use as a general storage room so that, eventually, work could be done on restoring the engines. This was actually where I spent the majority of my time, as it required a fair amount of labor moving things up hatches on the ship and rearranging the room so that their was functional floorspace took far more time than I had originally imagined.


“Working to repair and maintain the USS Slater ensures that the museum of which the Slater is a part of will continue to exist and will improve in teaching effectiveness. The Slater is a relic of WW2, and on it is a memorial and museum that teaches people young and old about what life on the ship was like during the war. The ship contains many original components and the museum on it is filled with pictures and WW2 artifacts. Regularly, boy scout troops from the area camp out on it and engineering students study it. It also plays a role in events occurring on patriotic holidays. Maintaining the ship, therefore, allows more people to learn of the history and science behind it. Furthermore, repairing the ship and increasing its functionality toward that of what it could do before it was sold allows these people to better learn from it.”



Q: I'm graduating this year - do I still need to do Comp Learning?

A: Yes - in order to graduate from the Honors Program, you have to finish your required 20 hours. If you are graduating in December, submission is due by the first Friday in November. If you are graduating in May, submission is due the first Friday in March.


Q: I've been on co-op this whole year - do I still have to do my Comp Learning?

A: You still have to do it! You can do your leadership/community service anywhere - even if you aren't in the U.S.!


Q: I don't think I'll be able to pull my GPA up, so I don't need to do Comp Learning, right?

A: Do it anyway! Sometimes GPAs can be higher than expected. If you don't do it, you are guaranteeing that you won't remain in Honors!


Q: Since the school year is only 2/3 done, can I turn in 2/3 of my Comp Learning and do the rest in Spring?

A: All 20 hours of Complementary Learning must be completed by the first Friday in November (for December graduates) or March (for May or Summer graduates). Students have from the previous submission due date until the new due date (1 year) to complete this requirement. Freshmen have from the time they graduate from high school until the new due date, which is about 9 months.


The Service Committee organizes eligible activities throughout the year! Visit them on our committees page!


Complementary Learning Questions? Please send any questions about Complementary Learning to


Your Complementary Learning Advisors for the year are:  Laura Discavage, Sam Zimmerman, and Becky Jasen. You can find their hours and locations at the bottom of our staff page.


About Complementary Learning


Complementary Learning provides Honors students with opportunities to grow through out-of-class experiences in leadership, service, volunteerism, and critical thinking. By participating in activities within the larger community, students develop integrated knowledge, problem-solving abilities, and leadership skills that are needed in their future careers. More importantly, these experiences teach civic responsibility and citizenship. Service projects and leadership roles complement and enrich the academic program of every Honors student.


Comp learning submissions are due the first Friday of November for students graduating at the end of Fall semester or completing their degree program requirements during the intersession.  Comp Learning is due the first Friday of March for all other students