On Friday, February 2nd, Gap year representatives from Dynamy Internship Year, EF Gap Year, Rustic Pathways, and City Year spoke with interested 10th-12th grade students and their parents. A Gap year is an "experiential semester or year typically taken between high school and college (or whatever your future plan may be) in order to deepen practical, professional, and personal awareness." Below you can find a summary of what each of the programs has to offer.
Dynamy: This program provides students an opportunity to explore potential careers and learn to live independently. Students live in Dynamy provided apartments in Worcester with other Dynamy students and attend their internship site roughly 28 hours a week. 200+ internships are offered, in careers a such as animal care, business, film, radio, and teaching - there’s something for everyone. Depending upon the whether students choose the full year or semester option, students will have between one and three internships. Mondays are workshop days where students learn about communication, independent living, and professional skills. They also have a chance to participate in college seminars offered through Clark University and earn up to 12 college credits. College counseling is available as well.
At the beginning of the program, students spend a week in Maine on an outdoor adventure retreat where they bond with staff and other students before the Gap year begins. Dynamy offers need based financial aid and has rolling admission throughout a student’s senior year until spots are filled.They also offer tours and informational interviews. Check out their website at https://www.dynamy.org/internship-year/.
EF Gap Year: EF is the same company that Medfield uses for its China and Italy trips. EF Gap Year offers students a chance to travel, learn or continue a world language, participate in community service, and intern in a field of interest. The program starts with an orientation at a castle in London (seriously!) where students get to know their cohort of Gap year students. As part of the orientation they will travel on a welcome tour to London, Amsterdam, Paris, Rome and Barcelona. After this, students will spend six weeks taking language courses at one of EF’s seven language schools in cities like Paris, Barcelona, Tamarindo, and Tokyo while staying with a host family. Next, students will participate in a six-week service learning project in one of six international destinations like the Dominican Republic, Nepal, Peru or Tanzania. Students return home for the holidays and have the option to attend a college application seminar.
When they return from break, students travel on a three week cultural immersion tour in Australia and New Zealand. After that students will start their business internship (offered in eleven international cities) where they will live with another EF Gap year student. The Gap Year ends with a Leadership Academy at the castle in London where students learn leadership skills followed by a tour of Scotland and Ireland where they practice those skills.
If students choose to participate for one semester they will only choose two of three options (service, language, internship) and will not travel to Australia and New Zealand. Applications are rolling until May 31st or until spots fill up. Students can enroll as early as their junior year, but most apply during senior year. https://www.ef.edu/pg/gap-year-abroad/
Rustic Pathways: This program offers students an opportunity to travel abroad and participate in community service. Students pick a region of interest and will travel to various countries within that region while participating in different service projects. There are typically fifteen students in a group, two program leaders, and local guides in each destination. Examples of programs are Spanish Immersion and Service and South Pacific Service and Ocean Skills.
Other specialized programs like “Come with Nothing” offers an experience where students bring one carry on bag and five items and have to shop for clothes and other supplies at a local market to sustain them throughout the trip. Students will live, work, and participate in community service.
Dates vary depending on the program destination. Rustic Pathways also offers summer programs if students do not want to participate during the academic year. Scholarships are offered and program applications deadlines vary. Check out their website at https://rusticpathways.com/
City Year: This program is for students interested in dedicating a year of service to students who are at risk of dropping out of school. City Year volunteers focus on student attendance, behavior, and the their ability to access the curriculum. City Year volunteers are assigned to a classroom where there is a primary teacher. Volunteers build relationships with the students in the classroom who are most at risk. Volunteers will be trained for one month before they are assigned to a site. Volunteers can choose to live at home or be assigned to a site in another US city and live in an apartment. Volunteers receive a stipend of roughly $630 every two weeks and can apply through City Year for food stamps to pay for groceries. Volunteers are in the classroom Mondays through Thursdays and spend Fridays with their City Year cohort.
Upon completion of the program, volunteers earn a financial award called the Segal Education Award of roughly $6,000 which can be used to pay off college debt or be put toward future schooling. City Year partners with colleges like Wheelock and Bentley which offer students incredible financial aid awards to City year alums. The application process includes talking with a recruiter, filling out an application, and having an interview. There are various deadlines throughout a student’s senior year with the next deadline coming up in early March, 2018. This is a well known program that has a huge alumni network. Many graduates of City Year are later hired by City year alums. This is a great opportunity for students interested in careers in education, helping professions, and working with youth. https://www.cityyear.org/
Guidance counselors are available to work individually with students on the Gap year application process. See your counselor if you are interested in a Gap year or stop by the guidance office to explore the brochures. We want students to know that college is not the only option when it comes to future planning. As always, the guidance counselors look forward to helping students find a future plan that is both exciting and a great match for their skills and interests.