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In the photo: Erica Lin, Ecuador '15, Binghamton University

Common questions about Global Citizen Year

We know that a bridge year is an exciting option, and a big decision. We want to make sure you have the information you need as you consider taking a Global Citizen Year. Check out some of the most frequently asked questions below.

What qualifications do I need to apply?

Our Fellows come in all shapes and styles! We are looking for 3 main qualities: drive, curiosity, and grit. Drive is all about motivation; we want students that can take initiative, and are motivated to do our program. Curiosity is about being open. You’ll be in a different place with different customs, culture, food, and people. We want students who will approach this with a curious mind. Grit is like resiliency. A year abroad will be rewarding, and also challenging at times. We are looking for students that can make it through the highs, the lows, and can continue to excel in the program.


We’re interested in getting to know you as a human being, not a number — so we don’t require transcripts, test scores, or letters of recommendation.

How does the application process work?

The point of our application process is to get to know you better! We have a selective process that includes a written application, interview, and final round.

  1. Written Application: Tell us about who you are and why you want to take a Global Citizen Year. It can be done in 2 hours or less, or by video submission.
  2. Interview: Students with the strongest written/video applications (showing drive, curiosity, and grit) are invited to the interview round. You have 10 days to complete your interview (usually via Skype or Google Hangout).
  3. Final Round: Students who demonstrate exceptional drive, curiosity and grit in their interview are invited to the final round, this is when you apply for scholarships and financial aid, choose your country, and visit your doctor. We review all your application materials and deliver an admissions decision.
  4. Decision: We notify you about your country placement, financial aid, and medical review. You decide if you’re ready for a year of adventure, transformation and new friends as a Global Citizen Year Fellow. 
Can I participate if I’m under 18?

Yes, students who are under 18 years old can participate. As long as you’ve completed high school, and haven’t yet started college you are eligible for a Global Citizen Year.


You can start your application during your junior or senior year of high school.

Can I participate if I’ve started college, or have graduated from college?

Global Citizen Year is for students who are in that unique transition period between high school and college. If you’ve already started on campus, or completed college, you are not eligible for our program.

Is your program for US students only?

Right now Global Citizen Year primarily serves US students, and students through our partnership with the United World Colleges (UWC), a network of international high schools. Students who are not from the US and are not from a UWC school can apply – but we reserve most of our financial aid for our US and UWC students.

How much does your program cost?

We are committed to making our program accessible to students from all backgrounds. Global Citizen Year’s tuition is on a sliding scale from $500-$32,500, with full tuition being $32,500. We offer both need and merit based scholarships that make it possible for students from diverse economic backgrounds to participate in our program. Historically, about 50% of our class has received a partial scholarship, and an additional 30% have received a full scholarship. We work with each family to make Global Citizen Year an affordable option.

Do I apply to colleges and Global Citizen Year at the same time?

It’s up to you! There are three main paths that our Fellows take when it comes to this: (1) Apply to Global Citizen Year as a junior and then apply to college senior year and defer; (2) Apply to Global Citizen Year and to colleges senior year and then defer college; (3) Apply or Re-Apply to colleges during Global Citizen Year.


1 – Apply to Global Citizen Year junior year, and then apply to college senior year and defer. Getting a head start on your bridge year can seriously cut down on the stress of senior year. If you apply to Global Citizen Year as a junior, you can then apply to colleges senior year already knowing your plans. Read below to learn how we’ll help make it easy to defer from college.


2 – Apply to college your senior year and defer acceptance. The majority of our Fellows choose this route. They apply to college and Global Citizen Year at the same time, then defer their college acceptance for a year. Deferral is basically asking the college to hold your spot for one year, and most universities make it really easy (we’ll help you out too!). Check out our tips and tricks on how to defer from college.


3 – Reapply/Apply to college during your Global Citizen Year. A smaller portion of our Fellows will apply to college their senior year, defer acceptance, and then re-apply to colleges while abroad. The majority of Fellows who take this route get into more selective universities the second time around. A smaller subset will apply for the first time while abroad. We provide resources and support to Fellows going through this process during their Global Citizen Year. 

Do you have college partnerships?

Yes! You can enrich your college experience or earn a scholarship by participating in Global Citizen Year with one of our university partners.


Tufts University 1+4 Bridge Year Program

Take a bridge year in Brazil before starting your freshman year at Tufts University. This program is exclusively for students who are accepted to Tufts University. Contact Tufts University for more information.


Dickinson College Bridge Year Program

Once you complete Global Citizen Year, you will be eligible for a $10,000 scholarship to Dickinson College. You can apply directly to Dickinson College.


Lafayette College Bridge Year Program

Lafayette defers financial aid packages for students joining Global Citizen Year and waives application fees current Global Citizen Year Fellows. You can apply directly to Lafayette College.

Do you have shorter programs?

No. All of our programming is 8 months long, from August – April. At Global Citizen Year we believe in the importance of deep cultural immersion abroad to truly understand what life is like there. This gives you time to learn the language, bond with the other Fellows in the program and connect with your community. Shorter time frames do not allow for this same rich experience.

How do you pick host families?

Each host family goes through a rigorous screening process and site visit by our staff before they are selected. We look for families that are eager to be a part of a Fellow’s transformative and immersive experience, and that will provide a safe and welcoming home. Our staff visit the home and meet with the family before they are selected. After that, families go through a training to help them prepare to host a Fellow. Throughout the year, our staff have regularly scheduled visits to meet with the Fellow and the host family together.

Do I get to pick what country I go to?

Yes! In the application you indicate your first through fourth choice, and we match students with their top choice a majority of the time. Check out our country quiz to find out which country is the best match for you.

What will I actually be doing when I’m abroad?

You’ll be living with a host family, participating in your community through an apprenticeship (similar to an internship), attending weekly language classes with the other Fellows, and getting comfortable in a new country and culture. You’ll also attend regular trainings throughout the year, which are a great opportunity for you and your fellow Fellows to have fun, connect with each other, and process your experiences together. To get a true taste of what life is like while you’re abroad, check out our Day in the Life page — featuring the daily experiences of our Fellows. 

What kind of apprenticeships do you have?

Apprenticeships vary from country to country and region to region, but typically fall into the bigger categories of education, agriculture, environmental conservation, public health, and social enterprise. Some examples of past apprenticeships include learning from and contributing at: a health post, a whale conservation program, an animal rehabilitation center, a local school, a social innovation startup, or an organic farm. You are given an apprenticeship shortly after you arrive in country, and we strongly encourage Fellows to get involved in other activities they see in their community.

Do I pick my own apprenticeship?

We assign you an apprenticeship based on matching your interests and strengths with the organizations we partner with in your host community. We encourage Fellows to take an active role in their communities, and many seek out additional apprenticeships, activities and opportunities on their own.

Will I be alone, or will I be with other students/Fellows?

You will definitely get a chance to be with other Fellows! You will be independent in your homestay and apprenticeship, but you will see your fellow Fellows regularly at language lessons, trainings, and just around town. You will have lots of independent time, AND time to socialize. Watch this video and check out our Instagram, Facebook, YouTube or Snapchat to see for yourself 🙂

Do I need to know the language of the country I’m going to before I leave?

Nope! Over the summer you’ll use Rosetta Stone to work on basic language skills. Your first month in country you’ll do intensive language learning to get up to speed, and then weekly classes from there. You’ll also be picking up a lot of the local language from your host family.

How safe is your program?

The health and safety of our Fellows is a top priority for our staff and organization, and we have a team in the US exclusively dedicated to this.  While there is some risk involved with traveling abroad, just like there is risk involved with being on a college campus, we have many systems and structures in place to support the safety of our Fellows. Throughout the year we train our Fellows on how to minimize their risk, make smart decisions, and stay safe. Each Fellow is given a phone that they can use in country to call their Team Leaders in case of emergency, or at any time. We also have emergency hotlines that are staffed 24 hrs a day, seven days a week, in each of our host countries and in the US. Lastly, all of our Fellows are covered by insurance while they are abroad.

Ready for adventure?

Check out the application and take the first step on an awesome journey.

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