First and foremost, what is a Global Citizen Year?
Global Citizen Year is an intentionally structured academic, experiential, and formative year in between high school and college that includes:
- Rigorous leadership training, both pre- and post-immersion as well as through ongoing training blocks, with access to industry experts
- A diverse cohort of peer leaders
- A service-based apprenticeship, complemented by one-on-one staff coaching, to help the Fellow gain insight into a local organization or community project while also focusing on continuous personal growth
- An appropriate balance between independent exploration and ongoing program support
- An enduring “crucible” experience that gives Fellow the maturity, focus, and tangible skills they need to succeed in college and careers.
Although the most profound impacts of a Global Citizen Year reside in the Fellows themselves, we know that this is also a unique and exciting time for the families who support them throughout their journeys – and that as a parent, you have countless questions about what to expect. You may wonder about everything from safety to logistics to program costs, or simply wish to hear from another parent on what the Global Citizen Year experience is really like.
We are always here to take your questions or put you in touch with other families, and invite you to begin to explore some of the answers here by consulting the following FAQs. For further inquiries or to be connected to a current or former Global Citizen Year parent, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be happy to help.
“I considered Global Citizen Year an important part of my daughter Caroline’s education that we would not find in college curriculums… Global Citizen Year provided a ‘guided catharsis’ for my daughter – assuring her safety and just the right amount of structured learning – but with plenty of opportunity for self-discovery and personal challenge… I am delighted to say she is now loving her college years as a more focused, confident, independent, mature young woman.” – David Pocock, Father of Caroline Pocock (Ecuador ’11)
Global Citizen Year Fellows are expected to remain with their cohort throughout the entire domestic and international experience; traveling home interferes with the adjustment process and detracts from the depth of the overall experience. This means that Fellows may not travel home for holidays or other events, except in the case of an emergency.
Visiting Fellows in-country, however, is a great opportunity for families to share in their Fellow’s Global Citizen Year experience, particularly once Fellows have adjusted to their new environments and are comfortable navigating the local culture. Families are welcome to visit Fellows and their host communities during the second half of the program cycle (late January-March, depending on the country).
Many people think a gap year is a privilege for wealthy kids. Others think a gap year program is a remedial option for kids who are “off-track”. Our mission is to reframe the traditional gap year as a Bridge Year. With Global Citizen Year you aren’t falling into a ‘gap'; instead you are crossing the bridge that will launch you from one life stage to the next. Let’s stop calling it a gap year; and start calling it a bridge year.
The FAFSA is a free, government-issued application that all applicants requesting student aid must submit in the both the college and other related application processes. Although Global Citizen Year applicants are not eligible for federal student aid nor can they apply 529 funds specifically towards this program, Global Citizen Year does use information from the FAFSA in making our own financial aid determinations. The FAFSA is therefore a required application component for any student requesting financial assistance from Global Citizen Year.
To apply, families first fill out the FAFSA using the most current tax data available and submit this form to the government for review. A link to the form can be found here and take approximately 2-3 weeks to process. so please take this into account when considering the application deadline. Once your FAFSA has been processed, you will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR), which is essentially an official government confirmation of the financial circumstances you described in your FAFSA.
The most important information on the SAR is the Expected Family Contribution Number (EFC). The EFC is not the amount of money that your family must provide. Rather, you should think of the EFC as an index that colleges use to determine how much financial aid you would need to receive if you were to attend their school. Global Citizen Year uses this report in addition to information on Part 2 of the application as well as information provided during the Parent Conversation to create an aid package that meets your family’s specific financial needs.
Families should note that because Global Citizen Year is not an institution of higher education, we do not have a federal ID number to which the Student Aid Report can be forwarded directly. Families will need to obtain their copy and submit it to Global Citizen Year themselves. When receiving the SAR, families will automatically receive both an electronic copy and a paper copy of the report. These can easily be sent to Global Citizen Year via mail or by attaching an e-copy to Part 2 of the application.
They can, but we encourage Fellows to cement their college plans before embarking on their Global Citizen Year for a number of reasons. First among them is the difficulty associated with completing and submitting the necessary documents from afar. Due to in-country conditions, including infrastructure challenges like frequent power outages as well as cultural norms like the value of communal time over independent work time, it is much more difficult to apply to college in-country than in the U.S. In addition to logistical challenges, Fellows who need to complete college applications may find it harder to remain fully engaged in their Global Citizen Year experience and successfully complete all program requirements.
That said, if a Fellow does need to apply or re-apply, it is possible. Internet is available during the in-country orientation period and in nearby cyber cafes in most community placements.
Fellows wishing to apply during their Global Citizen Year should ensure that all necessary paperwork (SATs, transcripts, medical forms, recommendations, etc.) is in order before departure for the host country.
Global Citizen Year offers significant financial aid to ensure that its participants are of the highest caliber possible, regardless of their ability to pay.
To date, over 80% of our Fellows have taken advantage of our generous financial aid packages, including a third who have received fully funded Fellowships. Regardless of their financial aid awards, all fellows are responsible for all costs associated with passport and visa applications, vaccinations, or early withdrawal from the program. All other costs, including international airfare, are assumed by Global Citizen Year, and some additional services may be covered for Fellows on full financial aid.
Whatever their financial aid, all Fellows are required to submit a $500 deposit upon acceptance into the program to be applied towards their total contribution, and are also required to participate in a Summer Organizing and Fundraising Campaign in the months preceding their departure. Read more about the Summer Campaign here.
Financial Aid: Sliding Scale Model
Tuition for Global Citizen Year is determined on a sliding scale based on the ability of the Fellow and the Fellow’s family to contribute, and are capped at a tuition ceiling (see our Costs and Funding page for most recent figures). The tuition ceiling represents a percentage of the total operational cost of supporting each Fellow through the 10-month program; the remainder of this cost is borne by Global Citizen Year with backing from generous foundational and philanthropic investments. This sliding scale model is designed to ensure that Global Citizen Year remains accessible to all selected Fellows, regardless of their financial circumstances, and that any available aid be allocated to participants for whom the experience would not be possible without it.
Once a financial aid package has been determined (see Costs and Funding for more information on this process), the Fellow’s family is responsible for the remaining balance of the total program cost, as well as any costs associated with procuring a passport, applying for a visa, updating vaccinations, and securing any medications needed to travel. Global Citizen Year does not cover the cost of the domestic travel in the U.S. Families are also responsible for covering any costs associated with early withdrawal from the program, including flight change fees and other unscheduled transport.
All other costs, including international airfare, meals and lodging, training and other enrichment activities, an in-country monthly stipend, and supplementary international insurance are assumed by Global Citizen Year. Applicants on full financial aid may be entitled to additional coverage.
The safety and security of all Fellows is our top priority. We understand that for many of our Fellows, a Global Citizen Year represents the first – and almost certainly the longest – foray into the world at large, and that many aspects of the experience will be new and unfamiliar. Yet with an exceptional staff both in the U.S. and the field, carefully designed safety and risk management systems, and a track record of success, Global Citizen Year is committed to ensuring that all our Fellows stay safe and healthy throughout their time abroad.
TRAINING & RISK MANAGEMENT
Although in-country staff are always present to monitor and respond to any health or safety concerns that may arise over the course of the year, Global Citizen Year also invests in the Fellows’ individual risk management through a series of trainings both in the U.S. and in host countries. Through these extensive safety and security trainings, Fellows learn how to monitor their own physical and mental well being while in their communities, including how to recognize and treat illnesses and feelings that are common when working and living abroad as well as those that are more serious and require medical attention. Additionally, Fellows learn local languages, cultural norms, and other appropriate behaviors that reduce risk in-country.
In the event of a heightened-risk environment, in-country and U.S. staff will actively monitor the situation – political, health-related, natural, or otherwise – in conjunction with the U.S. embassy and local resources.
LOCAL SUPERVISION & SUPPORT
Fellows live with carefully selected local families who, in addition to welcoming Fellows into their homes and the surrounding community, also provide the first line of supervision and support to the Fellows they host.
During their homestays, Fellows also receive periodic visits in-country staff, who are responsible for monitoring Fellows’ mental and physical health and safety with each visit. Program Specialists (members of the field staff working most closely with Fellows) help Fellows resolve issues as they arise; they also log each visit to track situations that may develop over time. Community Liaisons (local community members who act as a link between the host community and Global Citizen Year) are also available for Fellow support.
To learn more about our experienced field staff, present during the entire in-country portion of the program, meet Our Team here.
Each Fellow is issued a wallet-sized emergency card that includes insurance information, GCY staff contacts (local and US), local and regional clinic contacts, embassy contacts, and other important health and security contacts.
Fellows all carry local cell phones and are also provided with an emergency calling card.
24-HOUR EMERGENCY HOTLINE
Global Citizen Year’s Emergency Hotline is a 24-hour on-call system designed to respond quickly in case of emergencies relating to health, natural disaster, or political unrest. All Fellows and Parents receive detailed information on how and when to use the Emergency Hotline.
Although Fellows procede through each step of their Global Citizen Year together as a cohort, each of them will nevertheless have a unique day-today experience based on their individual homestay and apprenticeship placements.
Apprenticeships are matched as closely as possible to each Fellow’s interests and range from assisting in public health clinics or hospitals of traditional medicine to learning to monitor the use of efficient cookstoves in rural communities. Whatever the particular placement, these apprenticeships are a rare opportunity for Fellows to learn firsthand from experts and practitioners, observe the inner workings of a local organization or community project, and, over time, contribute their efforts in service of these local solutions. Fellows can expect to be involved in their apprenticeships for at least 20 hours a week, and can complement their apprenticeships with an independent project or supplemental activity if an apprenticeship offers the time and space to do so.
To learn more about the daily life of a Fellow and the range of homestay and apprenticeship placements in years past, we recommend reading a few entries from the Fellows’ Blog. These entries give great snapshots into the daily routines of Fellows working in everything from public health to agriculture to ecotourism, while at the same time revealing common threads of adjustment, growth, and reflection that all Fellows will invariably experience throughout the year.
Global Citizen Year currently offers opportunities in Senegal, Brazil, and Ecuador through a network of carefully vetted international, national, and local partners in those countries.
Regardless of country placements, a Global Citizen Year begins and ends in the U.S., with the bulk of the experience spent in one of our three host countries. Fellows receive their country assignments after the conclusion of the selection process through an in-depth Placement Process, where they will have a chance to communicate all preferences and requests.
Global Citizen Year applicants apply to join our corps of Fellows and not to a specific field placement. Fellow preferences weigh heavily in placement decisions, but our intimate understanding of the country context and our local partners’ needs require that other factors to be considered as well when making a final placement. Thus, Global Citizen Year will ultimately make the decision on where a Fellow is placed.
Beginning with the Class of 2014, applicants may indicate in their application if they are interested in only one country and this information will be taken into account when making our admissions decisions. Typically, the more flexible an applicant can be the better chance of being accepte, but in some situations these country-specific applications can be accommodated.
Yes. In each of the countries in which Global Citizen Year operates, a team of full-time staff works year-round to support the Fellows before, during, and after their time abroad. All staff bring years of experience in both the American and local country context as well as in education, cross-cultural exchange, and youth development.
In addition to building and growing our extensive network of local partners and managing the in-country program operations, these staff members also serve as mentors and coaches to the Fellows, visiting them regularly and addressing any challenges that arise in apprenticeships, homestays, or day-to-day life in their host communities
At this time, no. Funds in a 529 account can only be applied to an institution of higher education.
The Global Citizen Year Fellowship takes place between August and May of each year. While specific dates are subject to change with every program cycle, below is an example of the year’s breakdown:
- Summer after senior year: Summer Campaign and Onboarding
- Mid-August: 10 day Pre-Departure Training in California.
- September through early October: 5 weeks In-Country Training held in the host countries.
- October through April: In-country homestays and apprenticeships. During this time, Fellows will also convene regularly with their country cohort for Training Seminars.
- April: 5 day Re-Entry Training in the Bay Area, CA.
- End of April and Onward: Spring Events and transition to college.
Global Citizen Year is uniquely designed to bridge the high school and college experience through a combination of immersive learning and world-class training in areas directly relevant to the higher education environment. Focusing on three main learning spheres – Entrepreneurial Leadership, Global Skills, and College and Career Readiness – we:
- Implement a unique and rigorous curriculum designed to help students prepare academically for college, including a two-week pre-departure training, ongoing training blocks, and a one-week re-entry training to tie together the year’s learning.
- Train our Fellows on Stanford’s campus with world-class faculty and speakers, exposing them to the college setting and intellectual rigor they will face in their higher education.
- Ensure all Fellows develop intentional learning plans both for their year abroad and for their college experience allowing them to test their interests and define their passions both as Fellows and college students.
The first of its kind in the United States, Global Citizen Year’s partnership with the Eugene Lang College at the New School is a bold approach to freshman year: students enroll in the New School but spend their first year as students participating in Global Citizen Year, augmenting their in-country experience with supplemental academic coursework and gaining a full year’s worth of college credit in the process. Students continue on to the New School following their Global Citizen Year with sophomore standing, more prepared than ever to integrate their firsthand learning in the field with their ongoing studies in the classroom.
To participate in this special program, applicants must be selected by both the New School and Global Citizen Year and consent to special terms and conditions. Applicants may apply to Global Citizen Year during the Priority or Regular deadline, but will not be selected for this Fellowship until April.
Recognizing the tremendous positive impact a structured global bridge year can have on a student, Dickinson College has partnered with Global Citizen Year to provide an innovative approach to college affordability.
Through this partnership, Fellows who complete a Global Citizen Year prior to matriculating at Dickinson will be eligible for up to $10,000 in tuition credits through the school’s unique Public Service Fellows program. Public Service Fellows also receive priority consideration for positions as resident advisors, community advisors, and other opportunities to further reduce tuition and fees.
To participate in this program, applicants must be granted admission to both Dickinson College and Global Citizen Year. They must also be admitted to Dickinson’s Public Service Fellowship program. To learn more about this opportunity, click here.
Although bridge year opportunities become more plentiful each year, Global Citizen Year stands apart for a number of reasons. Among these are our unmatched focus on the growth and personal development of each Fellow as well as our steadfast commitment to building a broader movement – and a powerful national corps of future leaders from diverse and varied backgrounds.
UNIQUE PROGRAM CYCLE
One of the hallmarks of a Global Citizen Year is the unique emphasis on Fellows’ learning and growth that underlies the ongoing training curriculum. Fellows will receive intensive and comprehensive training before traveling, once they arrive in country, and throughout the course of their apprenticeships and homestays.
Unlike traditional, short-term volunteer placements, Fellows will instead work in partnership with communities through a local apprenticeship. By living in a community for an extended period of time and working alongside local people, Fellows have the unique opportunity to learn a language, form lasting relationships, and gain firsthand insight into the issues that shape their hosts’ lives.
Throughout their apprenticeships, Fellows will receive support on the ground from their in-country staff and their cohort of Fellows. Carefully selected homestay families and local partners will also be guides and resources. On top of regular visits from their in-country staff, each month Fellows will gather together with staff to participate in on-going training seminars. These monthly seminars are designed to compliment, support, and amplify their learning in the field while also providing invaluable time for their country cohort to come together to process their experience.
- Connect & Lead
As Fellows near the end of their Global Citizen Year, they will move into a Capstone Stage characterized by reflection, analysis, and outward expressions of their learning and growth. The Capstone Stage allows Fellows to share their experience with diverse groups, instilling in their audiences the power of global citizenship.
Once Fellows return home, they will join the dynamic Global Citizen Year alumni network. This community will provide them with support and resources throughout college and into careers.
Global Citizen Year is committed to ensuring that the program is accessible to all prospective Fellows, regardless of their ability to pay, and secures generous philanthropic contributions to cover the costs of students who would not otherwise be able to participate. To date, over 80% of our Fellows have benefitted from some level of financial assistance, including a third who have received fully funded Fellowships.