As more American universities recognize the value of early global experiences, select colleges and universities are beginning to develop their own Gap Year Programming. University affiliated Gap Year Programs vary in duration from a single semester to an entire academic year; and range from fully funded scholarship programs to tuition based programs. Free to Roam Adventures consults with institutions on the development of in-house Gap Year programming that matches their institutional goals and the needs of incoming first-year students.
With experience supporting gap year students and managing study abroad programs, Free to Roam Adventures offers institutions hard to find expertise that allows us to develop programs that meet the academic rigor of collegiate study abroad, while also tending to the specific developmental needs of pre-college students and first time intercultural learners.
We offer expertise in the following areas:
Program Design and Best Practices
Identifying local partners
Risk Management Advising
Design of Pre-Departure Orientation, Mid-Trip Reflections, and Post-Trip Debrief Sessions
Post-Program Student Support and Ongoing Assessment
Benefits of developing a Gap Year Program at your Institution
Retention and Recruitment
Institutions with existing Gap Year Programs affirm they have proven important tools in recruiting top-tier students who were also offered admission to other institutions of similar size and ranking.
A Gap Year Program allows your institution to admit more students during the fall semester without the pressure of having to house those students on campus. Single semester gap year cohorts arrive on campus for the spring semester, when housing tends to be more available.
According to informal Gap Year data, students who have a global experience early on positively impact an institution's rankings in terms of graduation rates, average GPA, and level of civic engagement. A survey run by the Institute for Survey Research at Temple University of approximately 1,000 American Gap Year students and alumni reported:
83% of respondents indicated a GPA of 3.0 or higher. 42% reported a GPA of 3.7 (or higher)
The median time to graduation was 3.75 years
89% reported participating in community service in the last month
Respondents are almost twice as likely to vote in national elections
86% indicated they were satisfied or very satisfied with their jobs
Improved Diversity and Accessibility of Global Learning Programs
Institutions may elect to recruit first-generation, low-income, or minority students who are traditionally under-represented in education abroad.
Research indicates that the earlier in their college career students have a global experience, the more time students have to integrate their knowledge into their course of studies, both inside and outside the classroom.
Students who have an international experience early on are likely to develop a sustained interest in global learning and seek out more immersive, student-directed study abroad or research opportunities later in their undergraduate careers.
Opportunities for Faculty Mentoring
Participation by faculty as leaders or onsite instructors ensures that the Gap Year Program aligns with your institution's unique culture, and provides opportunity for faculty to develop mentoring relationships with students.
An interdisciplinary approach to the academic structure makes the program accessible to students with diverse academic interests, and encourages students to approach learning with a multidisciplinary lens.
Mentoring is a crucial aspect of the gap year experience. We offer expertise in facilitating reflection through group debrief sessions and written pieces (blogs, journals, and other reflective writing exercises).
A Gap Year Program allows students to cultivate global competencies that they will utilize throughout their academic and professional careers. In addition to gaining cultural fluency, we intend to develop students who are dynamic and innovative, who demonstrate resilience, and are not afraid to take risks. Our student-focused approach to gap year programming allows us to create programs with life-long benefits for students personally and professionally.