Nine months ago these 13 students set out on a wild adventure. They were accepted to a post-high school program called The KIVU Gap Year. With wild ideas of traveling the world, they had no idea what kind of experiences there were about to engage in their souls. Today, they’re finishing up their final week in an intensive Cultural Re-entry seminar to slowly integrate back into American Culture.
They started in Denver last September with a goal of seeing people who live in the Inner City as people. Most thought they were going to change the world, one homeless person at a time. But what they found, all people have a story leading them to the place they are in life. Some have stories of success and happiness, some have stories of depression and destruction, but all of us have influences in our lives creating an environment to bring us to what we know as true and real. The experience is life changing!! The intensity of shifting your own paradigm from “I’m going to help them” to “They really helped me learn who I am” is one that these kids will embrace for a lifetime.
In November they ventured to Haiti to see what it’s like to live in a world where resources are scarce. They served, they played, they worked, and they saw a view of the world Americans rarely get a chance to experience.
January started the International portion of the program. They lived in Rwanda with host families, Climbed the tallest free-standing mountain in Africa (Kilimanjaro), went to Amman Jordan to work with locals in the city, and ended up with a tremendous organization in the Philippines.
Sounds like a program we all want to do, right?
Parents often ask me, “Why would I send my kid on a Gap Year after High School?” And I see the road blocks often prohibiting parents from even thinking out of the box like this. So I’d like to take a minute and just let you know what we’re doing, and how we’re doing it. Who knows? Maybe you know someone who will be interested in taking this program after they graduate from their last year of secondary school.
Won’t They Just Skip College?
As I father, I resonate with this challenge. I want to set my kids up for success as best I can, and I’ve had my eyes on college since they were born. It is inevitable in America to go to College if you want to climb the corporate ladder with any hope of success. Education is one of THE MOST important principles in my family. So when I hear students willing to take a Gap Year, my fear is; they will see the world in a different way and forget they need to go finish their education at a Higher University.
At The KIVU Gap Year, we took this challenge seriously. To date: 100% of our graduates have enrolled in an Institute of Higher Learning. We actually vet our students by making sure they’ve already been accepted to a University before they can be considered for the program. We believe intently, a University Education is important for those who are interested in making a difference in the world. Not only is the network, the lifestyle, and life skills an important part of University; EDUCATION is a way to see different ways of thinking to solve age old problems. We don’t want students who are just looking for a different direction in life, quite the contrary; we want students who are focused on doing something BIG with their lives. And part of that BIGNESS includes The KIVU Gap Year kids going to College.
Why should I pay for ‘another’ year of school?
With the cost of college on the rise, everyone is concerned with the education budget; especially college tuition. I hear many parents resistant to a Gap Year because it looks like I’m just going to waste money on a year that won’t count for anything.
Statistics show, only 60% of incoming University Freshman actually finish their degree at University today. I know what you’re thinking, “So how do we ensure our kid isn’t the 40% drop out?” And the answer is quite simple.
Most of the kids dropping out of school today are either fatigued by the enormous pressure to succeed starting at their earliest memory, or they aren’t able to cope with the serious amount of juggling it takes to balance grades, social life, and their first taste of freedom. I’ve heard countless stories of students who are accepted to the University of the Dreams, only to have to return home after the first semester for whatever reason.
A Gap Year is another way to ensure your student will see the world is a bigger place. When students get the opportunity to experience real time problems in the world, they see the necessity of finding answers. The KIVU Gap Year students enter the University with a view of the world vastly bigger than their freshman counterparts. We even had a third party research team do a study on how much change happens in one year traveling the globe with KIVU, and this is what they found. Cultural Intelligence Survey.
Do Colleges Accept a Gap Year?
Not only do colleges today accept a gap year, they actually are trending on supporting and creating their own. Harvard even announces on their website the importance of taking a year off before students attend Universities. So goes Harvard, the envy of the University systems, so goes the rest of the world. We’ve found state schools are slowly adopting this transformative year, and many are willing to accept the 18 hours of college credit afforded to potential KIVU Gap Year Students.
And if you want to take it a step further, Scholarship and Grant organizations are now awarding GREAT sums of scholarship monies for students who are interested in taking a Gap Year. In fact, one of our students this year applied for the prestigious INGRAM scholarship at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee. When she applied as a High School senior, she was denied for whatever reason. When she applied as a Gap Year student, the Ingram people actually bought her a plane ticket for her to travel from Rwanda to Nashville for a final interview. Two days later, she was the proud recipient of a full scholarship to Vanderbilt. (@$250K US)
I’m so proud of these students.
I believe in my heart, we are setting them up for whatever endeavors they choose to do in life.
Some will be doctors, others will be attorneys.
Some will be businessmen and women, and some will be diplomats.
But all will have the ability to see the world in a REAL WORLDVIEW setting.
They won’t have to take information by hearsay. They have actual WORLD experience to filter ideas, news stories, current events, and most important their faith.
It’s our goal to teach and train students how to LOVE GOD and LOVE OTHERS all over the world. These students have the tools now, and will truly become world changers in their fields of study.
If you’d like to see what we’re up to here at KIVU concerning the Gap Year, feel free to click over to the KIVU GAP YEAR WEBSITE where you can find more information, applications for 2014-2015, and a page of FAQ’s we’ve learned to answer from parents, students, and teachers around the country.