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Complementary Learning

Next year's Comp Learning Deadline is January 14, 2022! Start working on your hours now!




Satisfying your Complementary Learning Requirement


Complementary Learning is due each year you are a student in the Honors Program, regardless of whether you are on campus or not.  Failure to submit results in a withdrawal from the program.  Exceptions will be made for students that take a Leave of Absence from RIT.  Please notify the office if you will be on a leave.


For second-year students and older, 20 hours of complementary learning must be finished and submitted by January 14, 2022 at 11:59pm. The previous deadline was January 29, 2021 so no hours prior to this date will count for submissions for the 2021-2022 academic year.


If you are a first-year student (not including Internal Admit), only 15 hours of complementary learning must be finished and submitted by January 14, 2022 at 11:59pm. No hours prior to your high school graduation will count for submissions for the 2021-2022 academic year. 



Please note that the submission form will not submit unless you have a total of 20 hours. First-year students who complete between 15-19 hours must add an additional activity called Waived and add enough hours to add up to 20, otherwise it will not submit.


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


Your submission should be written in a professional manner befitting an honors student.  Slapdash submissions with sentence fragments and misspellings are unacceptable.  Each submission should include a detailed description of your activity, specific dates and times that provide a clear log of hours completed, and references so that activity can be verified. 


Anyone found providing false information on the submission will be automatically dismissed from the Honors Program in accordance with RIT’s Academic Dishonesty Policy.  By clicking "Submit", you acknowledge that the information provided in your submission is accurate and true.


Your Complementary Learning submission can be achieved by participating in multiple activities.  At least 10 hours of Comp Learning must be achieved through service and leadership activities. The remainder of the hours can be fulfilled by attending events from a curated list that ask you to engage in the larger academic and cultural life of the university.  Examples are provided below.


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


Submission Deadline

Every honors student, even those on co-op or studying abroad, must complete complementary by their respective deadline. An automatic confirmation email is sent to the student’s RIT email account shortly after a submission is received. If you do not receive this email, please contact the Complementary Learning Advisors with ample time before the submission deadline.


Students who do not submit Complementary Learning activities by the deadline will be withdrawn from the Honors Program.


Regular Deadline (first-year & returning): Friday, January 14 by 11:59 pm.

Early Graduation Deadline: Friday, December 3 by 11:59 pm (December graduates)


Note: For all returning Honors students, any activities begun after last year’s submission deadline date will count towards the current year’s submission. For incoming first year students, only activities begun after high school graduation will count toward the current year’s submission. 

Role of the Complementary Learning Advisor

Complementary Learning Advisors —who are also Honors students— are hired by the office to provide guidance on how to complete the comp learning requirement. They also review every student’s comp learning hours after they are submitted to the Honors website.


Office hours are held every week to review submissions and answer questions. It is strongly encouraged that you stop by office hours or email if you have any questions about your project’s acceptability.


The Comp Learning Advisors work to provide timely responses for questions. However, their workload increases exponentially as the deadline approaches. Patience regarding email responses and submission review is appreciated during this time.

Early Submission

Early submissions are encouraged to ensure enough time for review.


As an incentive for submitting Complementary Learning, approved 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 hours by November 20.  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 submission is approved. 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 submission. 

Appeals Process

Students who have submitted their Complementary Learning by the deadline and whose submission 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. Students whose Complementary Learning activities are not approved will be withdrawn from the Honors Program.   

Activities That Count 

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.



  • Providing basic needs such as food, water, shelter, clothing, medical supplies or services.
  • Teaching, Tutoring, Training through an organization or school:
    • Positions should be unpaid or significantly below minimum wage with an established organization (high school, RIT, Mary's Place, etc.)
    • Leading or organizing training sessions (pizza sales, mentoring) counts as comp learning. However, attending training sessions will NOT qualify as comp learning.
  • Involvement in the Honors Program:
    • 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
    • Service events held by Service Committee (see committees page!)
  • Miscellaneous volunteering:
    • Animal shelters, Nursing homes, Margaret's House
    • SWE & WE overnights (not including time spent asleep)
    • Fundraising walks (time spent raising money, helping at the event and walking)
    • Career Fairs, Open Houses, Commencement, Move-In Day, Zero Waste
    • 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.



  • Within Honors:  Honors Mentor or member of Honors Council (Officer, College Representative, Committee Chair, or Stand-In).
  • Mentoring and Eboard Positions: RA, OL and mentor for other pre-orientation programs, SG Cabinet, Varsity Sport Captain, e-board member of a club or major student organization (unpaid) and/or planning a service event.


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


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


Cultural and Academic:

  • There are a number of events that can be considered for cultural and/or academic comp learning. These can be found in the link on the right side of the page. 

Activities That Do Not Count 

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.  Please note:  A training or an orientation that prepares you to volunteer does not count towards your hours.


  • Paid positions:
    • Jobs, co-ops, research positions, SG Senator, paid camp counseling
    • Exceptions include Honors Mentor, Orientation Leader, Resident Advisor.
  • Paid Volunteering on Co-op:
    • Time spent volunteering while still being paid by your employer will not count
    • Time spent volunteering FOR your employer (e.g. company picnics) will not count
  • Simple Membership in a group or club:
    • Activities whose purpose is to benefit the club
      • Tabling/promoting your club
      • Participating in club recruitment activities
    • Exceptions include active membership in service groups, such as Habitat for Humanity, Rotary Club, Dumbledore’s Army, Honors Council meetings, etc.
  • Professional or Academic Development:
    • Non-paid positions whose purpose is to further your academic knowledge.
      • Internships or research – even if not done for credit
      • Speaking/presenting at an academic conference
      • Studying abroad
      • IdeaLab
    • Exceptions include going to a school and teaching students about college or your major
  • Any activity that counts for Honors points
  • An activity that benefits students and their families and friends rather than the community at large:
    • Independent tutoring of friends or family members
    • Planning a trip for friends
    • Participating in a musical or theatrical performance
    • Donating blood at a blood drive
    • Running a charity 5K
    • Captain of an intramural team
    • Helping a stranger change a tire
  • Travel time to and from Comp Learning activities. Carpool drivers can count the following time: or every hour spent volunteering at an event, the driver can count an additional 20 minutes maximum of driving for comp learning. 

Active Honors Committee and Council Members

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:

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

Active membership is retained for the full academic year but must be re-achieved each academic year of committee participation.


Time allocated to the official Honors Council meeting is determined by the complementary learning advisors and council officers at the beginning of each academic year and may vary.    

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 of December. If you are graduating in May, submission is due the first Friday of the semester.


Q: The form asks for a reference. Who should I put down?

A: For each activity, the reference should be someone in charge of the activity, who either witnessed you participating in the activity or checked you in. It is preferred that family members are not used as references unless they are in charge of the organization or activity. Eboard members and volunteer coordinators are examples of appropriate references.


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: Does volunteering through my co-op company count?

A: Volunteering while on co-op is encouraged. However, time spent volunteering while being paid by your employer will not count. If your company hosts a “Volunteer Day” during the work week, and you’re still paid, it will not count. Additionally, time spent volunteering FOR your employer will not count. This includes company picnics.


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: I’m in a 5-year program. Do I still need to complete 5 years of comp learning?

A: Yes! As long as you are a member of the Honors Program and are receiving the benefits of the program, you must fulfill your complementary learning requirement.


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


Your Complementary Learning Advisors for the year are: Siobhan Gannon and Saranya Dadi. You can find their hours and locations at the bottom of our staff page.


Comp learning submissions are due the first Friday of December for Fall Semester graduates or the first Friday of the Spring Semester for all other students


What is Complementary Learning?


Complementary Learning provides 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.


For an example of what a submission of comp learning hours would look like please follow this link:  How to Submit Comp Learning


Service Committee Volunteer Opportunities

For Service Committee Volunteer Opportunities go to their discord!


Virtual Comp Learning Opportunities

Please go here for some neat opportunities for service in the age of social distancing. The Center for Leadership & Civic Engagement has additional opportunities you can find here. Also, please know that we don’t typically count helping neighbors, but if you want to help with yard work or other outdoor work, we will be counting it this year, just remember to keep your distance.


Cultural Comp Learning Opportunities

This year, some of your hours (up to half) can be fulfilled through academic and/or cultural activities from a curated/approved list. If you are interested in these opportunities, please see the opportunities below for more information and to determine what can count for you in this regard: 

  • CLA WGSS PROGRAM: Gender Studies (that) Matter in the 21st Century: Sep 30, Oct 14, Oct 27, Nov 15
    • Join the RIT CLA Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Program in a series of four fall conversations with invited WGSS Program Directors/Department Heads from select programs around the country
  • What's Your Diversity?: Periodically throughout the semester, see link for details
    • Come learn about the diverse life experiences of students, staff, faculty and alums from across the globe
  • Women's Leadership Summit:  January 30, 2022
    • Opportunity to be a part of the planning committee or event staff
    • Interested students should apply via the Google Form AND fill out this when2meet no later than Monday, October 18
  • All Into the ROC events are considered Comp Learning


Protection of Minors Comp Learning Policy 

RIT is committed to the safety and protection of minors (17 and under) and has developed a policy to help us ensure that safety. This policy includes students who volunteer with minors while completing Complementary Learning hours. If you are volunteering at an organization that includes contact with minors, you must follow this process.

  1. Complete the Registration for RIT Employee or Student Participation in Non-RIT Activity form.
  2. If you are organizing a service event that includes minors, you will register the event using the RIT-Sponsored Youth Program Registration Form.