Profiles of Gap Year Participants

Over the past eighteen months those of us involved in 12plus1 have spoken to many people about the gap year experience. Since a gap experience is a new option in the United States, we are often asked who is your target audience? Here are some profiles of individuals who are considering a gap experience or for whom a gap experience would have been helpful. Every summary is based on an amalgam of a few people with similar stories. This was done to conceal the identity of any one person and to present the wide variety of experiences we have encountered. The more people we have encountered, the more we are certain that this ministry is needed.

 

BEN

Ben2.png

CURT

Curt2.png

   Discovery House    is a service-based gap experience for individuals ages 18-24. Participants can select a ten-month, five-month or month long commitment. The program is based on service, community and formation.

Discovery House is a service-based gap experience for individuals ages 18-24. Participants can select a ten-month, five-month or month long commitment. The program is based on service, community and formation.


ROSA

Rosa2.png

SARAH

Sarah2.png

JIM


The path of high school to college to work is not for everyone.  It is a myth to think that everyone follows that route.  In fact, only 60% of high school graduates who go onto college finish their degree in six years.  This means that 40% of students who enter college are left seeking an alternate path, often with large amounts of debt.  It is our belief that 12plus1 could help them discern their professional and academic future in an organized and purposeful way while making a positive and significant impact to society. 

We know that our gap experiences will allow participants to:

  • Make a positive impact on the community

  • Discover their authentic selves

  • Become servant leaders

  • Develop soft skills such as emotional intelligence, conflict resolution, flexibility and adaptability and self-reliance

  • Discern their academic and professional future

  • Deepen their relationship with God

 

Here is how you can support this new ministry:

  • Invite a young adult to consider a gap experience

  • Spread the word to your church, civic groups and business colleagues

  • Provide a financial gift to 12plus1

  • Join our mailing list and social media network. 


joe bio.JPG

Joe Nettesheim is the founder and director of 12plus1.  He has worked in Church ministry for twenty five years in the area of adult and youth formation and service learning.  He has also been an Executive Director for nonprofit organizations. You may contact Joe

Service Year Improves Workforce

12plus1 believes in the transformative impact of a service year.  The experience of serving others is beneficial to the participant, those they serve and society.  In fact, we recommend that a year of service should be something every young adult should choose before entering the workforce.  A culture that values service will promote respect, understanding and unity.  Service encourages sacrifice for a greater cause.  An individual who makes a commitment to service will be a better citizen and employee.  There are opportunities and qualities a service year will provide prospective employees that cannot be attained in other ways.  This is why we suggest that businesses support a service year movement because it will improve the quality of employees available to them.  Here are some of the qualities a service year will provide young adults who will be entering the workforce:

 

  • Life Experience

Every employer wants to hire a candidate who is well-rounded and has a variety of experiences to draw upon.   Young adults who enter the workforce may have the necessary educational experience but often are missing some basic life skills that can come with experience.  Common sense skills such as resilience, creativity, conflict resolution, cooperation can be lacking.  Service provides experience in a variety of ways.  Being a service volunteer through 12plus1, individuals will participate in all aspects of the organization.  They will have professional hands on experience in administration, program, marketing and communication.  Meeting monthly with a mentor and regular assessments conducted by the service site supervisor and 12plus1 staff will help them process their experience and grow professionally.  The participants will have handled specific work place situations.  Service also will allow them to build relationships with and learn from many diverse people.  

 

  • Develops Character

A person of character is one who acts with integrity and has the ability to elevate their skills in the challenging situations.  Often one does not know their own character until they have to discover what they have in reserve.  Making a commitment to a service year is an adventure.  One cannot be certain of all that the journey will entail, but it will challenge them to reach deep and believe in themselves.  They will see problems that are overwhelming, issues that are paralyzing, find themselves out of their element, live simply in community with strangers and find the ability to adjust their lifestyle.  The mentoring, assessments and living in community will receive provide the feedback they need to grow as a professional.  Participants will depart the experience with an understanding of what it means to be responsible and professional.  If they are able to succeed they will emerge with confidence that only exists by finding the character in themselves, they never knew existed.

 

  • Develops Emotional Intelligence

No employer wants a staff member who will melt down when things do not go as planned- because they almost never do!  Individuals who have spent a year working in the non-profit sector will be exposed to organizations that regularly deal with emergencies and are short on resources.  This combination means that they will have to drop what they are doing and jump in.  This high pressure, high stress environment can fuel anxiety and conflict.   It can also lead to self-awareness.  Having the ability to understand oneself -their own feelings, motives, hopes and struggles will empower individuals to respond appropriately and maturely to their own emotions.  Learning to authentically manage one’s emotions, resolve conflict, understand the emotions of others and ‘go with the flow’  are important and immeasurable qualities needed in every workplace.    

   Discovery House    is a service-based gap experience for individuals ages 18-24. Participants can select a ten-month, five-month or month long commitment. The program is based on service, community and formation.

Discovery House is a service-based gap experience for individuals ages 18-24. Participants can select a ten-month, five-month or month long commitment. The program is based on service, community and formation.

  • Forms Servant Leaders Focused on Unity and Cooperation

Who wants an employee who does not understand their connection to the other team members?  The ability to work together and be humble enough to see your place as part of the whole is crucial.  Selfies are fun- but a “selfie focused employee” is not a staff member who will put the organization first.  Service is always about others.  A service-based gap experience develops leaders who understand their role is about focusing on the mission and helping others.  Through service participants learn that all humans are connected.  We all have needs and gifts. If we are humble, these needs and gifts can complement one another.  This is the type of individual you will want in your company.  Individuals who want to utilize their talents for the success of your business. This type of employee is humble, cooperative, collaborative and recognizes they are part of something bigger than themselves.

Gap years have been popular in Europe.  They are just gaining a foothold in the United States.  Many gap experiences take participants overseas for a “vacation type adventure.”  12plus1 is committed to forming participants through service.   It is our goal to provide an opportunity for participants to:

  • make a positive impact,

  • grow in their understanding of self,

  • discover their passion,

  • make plans for their academic and professional future and

  • grow in life skills.

This program will be a benefit for businesses as they search for ways to expand their pool of candidates.  The hiring process is one of the most time consuming, costly and challenging tasks for every business.  Hiring participants who have participated in a service year, would allow organizations to select individuals who have had real life work experience and been through a process focused on professional and individual growth.  A service-based gap experience will have a positive impact on the workforce and our country.  Making service a regular part of a young person’s professional development will benefit workplaces and our society.  It is our hope that you will support and promote this service-based gap program offered by 12plus1.

 
joe bio.JPG

Joe Nettesheim is the founder and director of 12plus1.  He has worked in Church ministry for twenty five years in the area of adult and youth formation and service learning.  He has also been an Executive Director for nonprofit organizations. You may contact Joe

Dear Mom and Dad

Dear Mom and Dad,

Father and son college.jpeg

I am writing to you after being with 23,000 Catholic high school youth at the National Catholic Youth Conference in Indianapolis.  From Thursday to Saturday, I had an opportunity to speak with at least five hundred of your children. My impression is that they are fun loving, articulate, faith-filled, hopeful, searching kids who want to make a difference in the world and live a meaningful life.  It is obvious you have done a great job raising them!  My reason for going to NCYC was to promote a service-based gap year experience called Discovery House, which is a program of 12plus1, Inc.  I feel I have a responsibility share with you what I learned about many of your sons and daughters, especially high school seniors.  They are scared, stressed, uncertain, feeling pressure and (even still) hopeful about their future. It seems that at age 17 it is difficult to know, with any degree of certainty, what you want to do for the rest of your life.  It doesn’t matter if you are the class valedictorian (who I met) or the class clown (who I also met) it is really difficult to make this choice.  It seems there are limitless options before them and not quite enough life experience to know which one is for them. Many see this as THE pivotal decision of their life.  It is what they have been preparing for since before middle school (ore before) and it is what they perceive, often unfortunately with some parents’ encouragement, will determine the next sixty years of their life. Plus, the exorbitant cost of college makes them feel as though they cannot make a mistake.  For many the conversation about taking a gap year to do service, live in community, expand their life experience, meet diverse people, grow in understanding of self and God sounded like a lifeline to many.  Only to have them end the conversation disappointingly saying, “my parents will never let me.”   This is why I wanted to write to you.  A gap year has many benefits and can actually help students have a more academic and professional success.  I ask that you consider a gap year as part of the preparation process for and not an alternate to college.

First let’s get this out right away:  A gap year is NOT for everyone.  At the same time let’s acknowledge that moving directly from high school to college is NOT for everyone either.  The destination may be the same, but the route can be as varied as there are people.  Let’s also be clear that the gap year is not a replacement for college. Statistics about gap year participants demonstrate that 90% go onto college within a year of their experience.  With this in mind here are 4 reasons why I suggest you allow your high school senior to consider a gap year.

 

DEVELOP SOFT SKILLS OF SUCCESS

In a highly competitive world there are many intelligent individuals.  Often what sets individuals apart for success is their ability to communicate, be flexible, resilient and creative in relating to others. There are certain skills that come with finding success and overcoming challenges of independence. Getting up after being knocked down could be the most important life experience. Discovery House participants experience the real world.  They have to cook, do laundry, shovel snow, clean, budget and shop all while essentially working full time.  Just like real life.  People at their service site and in their community will count on them.  It is not an option to forgo the responsibilities at home or the service site.  Evaluations and feedback will be a regular part of the service and community experience.  This gap year experience is not a vacation! It is an organized, structured activity with a purpose and goal.  Fortunately, they will have a formation day to learn from their success and failure.  It should not be a surprise that gap year participants have a higher degree of academic and professional success because they have additional skills that come from life experience and maturity.  College is approached with purpose because it is their choice.  They have a plan and are organized more able to cope with stress and loss.  They are primed for success.

 

MORE LIKELY TO SUCCEED

Discovery House provides an experience, which allows them to discern their college and career.  If an individual is interested in education, their service site can be placed at an urban school.  This placement will provide real experience.  Their decision will not be based on reading a brochure. Participants will create a plan for their academic and professional future.  Gaining experience, maturity and direction students are more likely to succeed. A survey from the American Gap Year Association cites that   “ . . . students who had taken a Gap Year were more likely to graduate with higher grade point averages than observationally identical individuals who went straight to college, and this effect was seen even for Gap Year students with lower academic achievement in high school (Crawford and Cribb 2012, Clagett 2013).

 

WISE INVESTMENT

At NCYC many ADULTS told us they wished 12plus1 existed when they were in college.  A story we heard more than once went like this:  “I went to college because I thought I had to.  I had no idea what I wanted to do so I didn’t go to class, partied a lot and flunked out.  It was a waste of $40,000.”  A gap year is an investment in your son or daughter that will make it more likely that they will find success at college.  One could see this as an insurance policy for college.  Of course, a gap year experience has a cost, but the positive impact on communication skills, maturity, organization and emotional intelligence can never be taken away.

THEY HELP OTHERS

serving kids.jpg

As someone who has worked in ministry for over 25 years I have often heard people complain about young people.  This is an opportunity for young adults to be their best.  Whether they are working at an urban school which serve students living in poverty, reaching out to a person in the criminal justice system, helping someone get out of human trafficking or offering support for an addict, they are doing good!  This should be a cause of celebration!  The United States Catholic Bishops said, “Action on behalf of justice . . . appears to us as a constitutive dimension of the Gospel.”  In other words, action is essential to living the Gospel.  One could argue that it is impossible to live the mission of Christ without serving others.  It is our belief that Discovery House will encourage participants to make service, kindness, caring for others a part of their character.  All one needs to do is look at the world to recognize that our world is broken, and the social fabric is fraying.  Your son or daughter has the gifts and talents to bring healing, unify divisions and become an advocate for those most in need.  Why wouldn’t we encourage an opportunity for our children to live with purpose and meaning expressing their best selves?  

While a gap year might be a new concept for some it should not be met with “My parents will never let me do this.”  There are too many benefits for your child and our world.  It is my hope you might respond with “Let’s discern if this is the right path for you!”

Sincerely,

Joe Nettesheim, Director

12plus1, Inc.

Schedule Your Information Session

video chat.jpg

Selecting a gap year is an important decision.  It is important to all of us at 12plus1 that you have all of your questions answered.  One way you can learn more is through a Google Hangout info session.  Sign up using the form below and director Joe Nettesheim will schedule a time with you to talk about every detail about Discovery House.  We will meet with prospective participants, parents, teachers, guidance counselors, ministers, or any combination!  A google hangout allows for up to 10 participants.  Submit the form below to start the process.

Name *
Name
Phone *
Phone
Select a Day of the Week *
Mark your preference of days:
Select a Time of Day *
Select time of day
Reason for interest *

BEST FRESHMAN YEAR IS A GAP YEAR

It’s that time of year again. High-school seniors across the country are finishing their final exams, cleaning out their lockers, and getting ready to walk up on stage to accept their diplomas.

The students know where they’re going to college, and they’ll busy themselves over the coming months by looking into meal plans, registering for classes, and contacting their future roommates. Admissions deans are still analyzing yield targets with their staff and are already looking at what they could do differently next year. It’s a predictable cycle — except for one wrinkle.

College anxiety.jpeg

An increasing number of students are questioning whether they are ready to dive straight into four more years of classroom lectures, research papers, and cramming for exams. Many are exhausted and burned out, eager to refuel their curiosity about the world through the kind of learning that won’t appear on a transcript.

Record numbers of students are contemplating a gap year before college, and they are looking for guidance on this important decision from the very colleges that admitted them. With a few exceptions, most students who inquire about a gap year will receive a silent nod from their admissions counselor and another form to fill out. Is that really the best we can do?

Over the past five years, many college-admissions offices have adopted policies that allow students to defer their admission offer for one year. The gap year has become increasingly popular with admissions leaders, who have witnessed firsthand its positive impact on students and campus culture. Yet most colleges have remained resolutely agnostic as to what students should do on their gap year, and how they might pay for it.

At first glance this might make sense. The undergraduate clock starts ticking only when an incoming freshman sets foot on campus. Or does it? Not if you believe, as we do, that one of the most effective ways to improve college outcomes is to improve the inputs. A gap year designed with purpose and intent is a journey of personal growth that helps students successfully transition to college.

At a time when traditional four-year colleges are struggling to stay relevant and high-school graduates are hungry for real-­world experiences, why wouldn’t educators weigh in on the merits of a gap year? Isn’t it time for higher education to help students figure out what kind of experience will help them succeed in college and in life?

We recently worked with a group of experts to define the following key characteristics of a transformative gap year: It is purposeful and practical, involving some element of service to others; it takes students out of their comfort zone, challenging them to learn new skills and try on new perspectives; it offers the right balance of autonomy and mentoring to help students build self-confidence and a sense of purpose; it is accessible to students from all economic backgrounds.

  a transformative gap year: It is purposeful and practical, involving some element of service to others; it takes students out of their comfort zone, challenging them to learn new skills and try on new perspectives; it offers the right balance of autonomy and mentoring to help students build self-confidence and a sense of purpose

a transformative gap year: It is purposeful and practical, involving some element of service to others; it takes students out of their comfort zone, challenging them to learn new skills and try on new perspectives; it offers the right balance of autonomy and mentoring to help students build self-confidence and a sense of purpose

The idea of integrating an experiential gap year with college may sound radical, but many colleges already routinely grant academic credit for service learning, internships, study abroad, and other forms of engaged learning. Education researchers have proven that these so-called high-impact practices improve student retention and engagement in college. However, many undergrads don’t have access to these formative experiences until their junior or senior year.

Imagine how much we could amplify the positive effects if we offered students a megadose of high-impact practices at the beginning of college instead of at the end.

Reinforcing this point, the Gallup- Purdue Index, a large study of college graduates that seeks to track college outcomes, has demonstrated that how students go to college is much more important than where they go to college. Longitudinal data from the study show conclusively that the strongest predictors of future success are experiences that require initiative and agency — such as finding a mentor, having an internship, and doing a project that takes a semester or more to complete.

College leaders are desperate to cultivate a greater sense of civic responsibility among their students. In these turbulent political times, this is one of the most pressing challenges facing higher education. Similarly, educators recognize that the power skills of the 21st century — resilience, empathy, collaboration, initiative — are difficult to teach in the classroom. To build these skills, students need to be out in the world grappling with complex issues of identity, equity, diversity, and power. A purposeful gap year is a powerful way to build those muscles.

And a growing number of colleges understand that a purposeful year off before college is the best way to ensure that more students arrive on campus prepared to declare both a major and a mission. Pioneering institutions are taking steps to repurpose gap years as transformative bridge years. Could this be the freshman-year makeover we’ve been hoping for?

the strongest predictors of future success are experiences that require initiative and agency — such as finding a mentor, having an internship, and doing a project that takes a semester or more to complete.

Tufts and Princeton Universities have designed (and financed) their own service-oriented gap-year programs for incoming students, and several other institutions are exploring similar models. Meanwhile, the University of North Carolina, Florida State University, and Dickinson College all offer scholarships to make meaningful gap-year opportunities accessible to students from diverse backgrounds.

And there are numerous examples of admissions offices — including at Dartmouth College, Brown University, Rice University, Colorado College, and Middlebury College — that have developed useful gap-year resources for all prospective students. This is a perfect moment for other institutions to replicate and adapt these models to their own contexts.

In the next few weeks, admitted students may turn to you for guidance as they contemplate taking a gap year. Will you send them a form, or will you guide them toward a formative experience?

This article was published in the Chronicle of Higher Education on June 3, 2018.  

 

AUTHORS

Abigail Falik is founder and chief executive of Global Citizen Year, a nonprofit dedicated to reinventing the gap year. Linda Frey is vice president for strategic partnerships at Global Citizen Year, where she leads the organization’s higher-education partnerships.