Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Consider Applying for a Global Gap Year Fellowship

Have you ever considered a gap year? More and more students in the U.S. are deciding to postpone college for one year in order to pursue travel, community service, work, or a mixture of the three. A year away from a traditional school setting allows students to gain life experience, become more independent, and re-energize before entering college. Many students choose to spend their gap year on service projects, either abroad or in their own communities, while others work to earn money for college. Most students choose to travel for at least part of their gap year.

This year, UNC will be selecting seven incoming first-year students for a Global Gap Year Fellowship. The fellowship provides $7,500 to each student for use toward a gap year that combines global travel with volunteer service. Current UNC students and the Campus Y help Gap Year Fellows prepare for their year abroad and integrate that experience into their education when they return to campus.

A group of current UNC students who took a gap year have formed a student organization called GAPPL -- the Gap Year People. Their website has lots of info and resources for students who are considering a gap year. They even have a whole section for parents--mostly dealing with how to talk them into it!

Conor Farese, a student who graduated from UNC this past spring, was very active in promoting gap years through GAPPL. During his gap year, Conor had an internship with a ceramicist in Florida, worked to earn money while living with relatives in Georgia, did a NOLS course in coastal sailing in Baja California, then traveled to Tanzania on a service trip. Just hearing about Conor's experiences during his gap year always gave me goose bumps. Read more about his experiences here.

Only students who are admitted under Early Action will be eligible for the Global Gap Year Fellowship, so that means if you're interested in the fellowship you need to submit your application for admission by October 15. In early February, we'll be sending all newly-admitted students information on how to apply for the fellowship.

So if you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?