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In the photo: Brook Donner, Senegal '16, University of Florida

A Parent’s Guide to the Bridge Year

At Global Citizen Year, we know that when a Fellow decides to take a bridge year, it’s a journey for the parents as well. And while that goodbye hug at the airport can be tough, the maturity, confidence, perspective, and joy you’ll see in your returning son or daughter makes the journey all worthwhile. 


Parent Voices

Hear from parents of alumni about how their sons and daughters came into their own with Global Citizen Year. During this important transition between high school and college, Global Citizen Year offers young people the time and structure to step out of their comfort zones, dig deep, and discover who they are and what they’re capable of.


A Launch Pad for Success

We all want our kids to succeed in college and their careers. Today, with the high pressure of high school and college admissions, sometimes the best way for students to get ahead is actually to hit pause. A growing number of parents, college deans, researchers, (and even the US president!) are encouraging students to take a bridge year after high school to reflect, recharge, and refocus so that they can truly make the most of college. 


94% of Alumni are currently enrolled in or have graduated from college


95% of Alumni say that Global Citizen Year was the best preparation they could have had for college


97% of Alumni have recommended other students to join the program

The most common college destinations for Global Citizen Year alumni include:

American University

Appalachian State

Florida University

Harvard University

McGill University

Middlebury College

The New School

New York University

Stanford University

Tufts University

UC Berkeley



UNC, Chapel Hill

University of Utah



University of Wisconsin

Wellesley College

Williams College

Yale University

Watch Katie Couric’s feature on how we’re re-imagining the ‘gap year’ as a launch pad for global citizens — and how colleges are taking notice!

As a former freshman dean, I can tell you that students who take a little time away doing something productive - where they have the chance to grow a sense of self, greater skills and capacities - those students come to campus better equipped to take greatest advantage of what college has to offer.”

– Julie Lythcott-Haims

Former Freshman Dean, Stanford University

& Bestselling Author of “How to Raise an Adult


Health & Safety Are Top Priorities

By design, Global Citizen Year is a challenging program. It’s important to acknowledge that the very nature of international living and travel involves a certain degree of risk. Because Fellows live in environments that can be remote, dynamic, and physically or emotionally challenging, it’s important that Fellows and their parents work with us to maintain good health and well-being. We take a comprehensive approach to support Fellows’ health and wellbeing and are accredited by the American Gap Association. Our approach is based upon the following core components of risk management:

Fellow Training in Risk Management

Through ongoing risk management training and mentorship, Global Citizen Year helps Fellows develop the skills and knowledge to assist in managing challenges. Risk management trainings are designed to raise Fellows’ awareness of their new environment, build their capacity to handle the challenges they will face, and provide the tools and skills necessary to adopt a healthy and appropriate lifestyle where they can thrive while living abroad.

Supportive Staff & Partners

All Global Citizen Year Field Staff are trained in Global Citizen Year’s Emergency Response Protocol and are certified in Wilderness First Aid from the National Outdoor Leadership School. They are also trained in coaching and facilitation techniques for cross-cultural immersion. In addition to the Global Citizen Year Field staff, a community-based support network comprised of the host family, the apprenticeship supervisor, and local advisor, serve as important contacts and resources for the Fellows as they integrate into their communities and maintain health and wellbeing.

Emergency Response Protocols

Global Citizen Year Staff, Fellows, and partners are trained to carry out emergency response plans for addressing minor, moderate and major emergencies. These plans are developed to respond to injuries and illnesses, as well as crisis level events, such as natural disasters, epidemics, or civil unrest. Additionally, Global Citizen Year provides travel insurance and cell phones to each of the Fellows in order to maintain communication with the Fellow in case of an incident.

As a parent, I cannot say enough about the positive impact of Global Citizen Year. My son Jacob was taken outside his comfort zone and had the opportunity to get to know himself outside the walls of an academic institution. He learned the value of patience, empathy and good judgement; the year was such a gift, and the full impact will only become more apparent with time.``
- Leetha Filderman, mother of Jacob Filderman (Senegal '11, American University)

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