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Eligibility & Selection Criteria

In the Photo: Alcyone Magana, Ecuador '15, Watson University

What We Look For

How we identify exceptional leaders

In our holistic and selective admissions process, we give careful, individual attention to each applicant. We’re looking for promising young leaders who will best contribute to and learn from their communities and cohort – individuals who will inspire change during their bridge year and throughout their lives. As we read and discuss your application, many questions will be on our minds. Here are some things we consider.


Are you deeply motivated to step off the beaten track and take control of your education?

Are you equipped with the initiative to make this a year on, rather than a year off?


Are you hungry for a greater sense of direction, purpose, and self before starting college?

Will you approach this experience with an open mind and inquisitive spirit?

Are you eager to learn from new perspectives, people, and ways of life?


Do you have the tenacity and judgment to persevere through difficult situations and stand up to the challenges and independence of our program?

Essential Eligibility Criteria


By design, Global Citizen Year is a challenging program. Fellows step out of their comfort zones and push past former limits. The health and the well being of our Fellows and staff are of the highest priority at Global Citizen Year. 

It is important to recognize that there is, and always will be, a certain degree of risk in the very nature of a Global Citizen Year. Because Fellows live, work, and travel in environments that can be remote, dynamic, and physically or emotionally challenging, it is important that Fellows work with us to maintain good health and well-being.

The Eligibility Criteria outline our requirements for Fellows to be reliable, fully committed, and capable of of working hard to achieve the program goals. If you have questions or concerns about your ability to meet the criteria, please email our team at applications@globalcitizenyear.org


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A Fellow must:

1. Have a high school diploma or GED by the first day of the program.


2. Have not yet started full-time college coursework.


3. Pass a basic physical and mental health medical screening.


4. Obtain parent or guardian permission for participation

(additional forms are required for participants under the age of 18).


Our program primarily serves U.S. based applicants. We invite applications from international students but please note that we reserve the majority of financial aid for US based applicants (unless applying through our partnership with the United World College).

A Fellow must:


1. Be able to independently identify and recognize hazards inherent to living and traveling in a foreign country. These hazards may include, but are not limited to, public transportation, busy streets, navigation in major cities and remote areas, loose rock and unstable surfaces, seasonal flooding, moving water (fast or slow) such as rivers, creeks, surf, or tides; and potentially hazardous animals and insects.


2. Recognize and understand the hazards and risks posed by other Fellows, which include, but are not limited to, fatigue, state of mind, and actions that may influence judgment and decision-making.


3. Recall and understand hazards and risks previously verbally explained by Staff.


4. Understand and follow instructions given verbally, whether individually or as part of a group, including directives regarding hazards/risks.


5. Be able to effectively alert and warn others of potential or impending dangers such as human hazards, aggressive animals, or other environmental hazards.


6. Be able to proactively reach out to staff members and other Fellows, in case of need.


7. Be able to effectively and proactively notify Staff members of personal distress, injury, overwhelming emotional stress, safety or health concerns, or other need for assistance.


8. Be able to complete the preceding notifications in conditions with potentially high stress and limited communication.


9. Act reliably around stated hazards to minimize risk even when not directly supervised.


10. Independently perceive, understand, and follow directions and instructions given by others to be able to successfully execute appropriate, and perhaps unfamiliar, techniques to avoid hazards and/or manage risks. These directions may be given before the hazard or risk is encountered or may need to be given during exposure to the hazard/risk and out of necessity and practicality are often given orally.


11. Be able to stay alert and to focus attention for several hours at a time while living and traveling in remote environments, attending classes, or receiving instructions.


12. Be able to respond appropriately to stress or crisis such as when encountering unpredictable human factors (sometimes regarding health and safety) of a foreign country, severe weather, or a medical emergency.


13. If taking prescription medications or requiring the need to take medications in-country, be able to maintain proper dosage by self-medicating without assistance from staff or other partners (except possibly in emergency situations).


14. Be able to perform necessary self-care in a remote and foreign environment, with varied weather conditions and unique cultures, including personal hygiene, adequate hydration and nutrition, appropriate and responsible dress.

A Fellow must:

1. Work effectively as a member of a host family and apprenticeship despite potentially stressful and difficult conditions. This may require problem-solving on an intrapersonal or interpersonal level, as well as a willingness and ability to accept differences and immerse effectively in a foreign environment.


2. Work effectively as a member of a cohort despite potentially stressful and difficult conditions. This may require problem-solving on an interpersonal or group level as well as a willingness to accept differences.


3. Contribute to a positive and safe learning environment—no verbally or physically inappropriate behavior toward others is tolerated for any reason.


4. Be willing to abide by the homestay rules and expectations, as well as those of Global Citizen Year direct Staff.


5. Be able to willingly and equally share responsibility with other cohort members. All Fellows are learning leadership and living skills and being challenged by the conditions and activities; there can be no expectation that any other student will be able to continually assume a greater share and responsibility of the program requirements.


6. Effectively communicate ideas and concerns on an individual and cohort level.


7. Be open and aware of differences and foster a sense of inclusion and appreciation of diversity within and among the cohort, the Staff, and the host partners and persons.


8. Have the cognitive ability to learn necessary skills given normal time limitations of a Global Citizen Year program.

A Fellow must:

1. In the case of logistical changes, a Fellow must be able to engage in air travel independently from home or training location in the United States to foreign program operating location.


2. Be able to navigate and travel independently in varied vehicles through conditions that may include, but are not limited to, poor roads, rugged, uneven, steep and sloping roads; congested and high traffic areas with a range of order and predictability, human made and animal made trails; uneven terrain; needing to cross rivers without the aid of bridges; ascending, descending or traversing slopes covered in mud, rocks or vegetation; bushwhacking off-trail through thick standing and/or downed vegetation. Any and all travel can occur during periods of inclement weather or nighttime hours.


3. Be capable of walking distances within the Fellow’s site, which can range from less than 1 mile to more than 5 miles in 1 day. On average, Fellows will need to travel on foot no more than 2 miles/day in order to accomplish responsibilities of the apprenticeship and of the host family/host community.


4. Be prepared for travel duration by local transportation or by private transportation can range from less than 1 hour to more than 12 hours in 1 day and occur on successive days.


5. Have average strength and endurance and basic balance and agility to travel through varied terrain on foot.


6. Be responsible to independently provide oneself with meals and carry personal items, including medications when traveling; and be able to appropriately prevent unsafe encounters with risk during travel.

A Fellow must:

1. Be able to tolerate being several hours away from medical facilities.


2. Be able to live responsibly and independently in a foreign location with inconsistent direct supervision from Staff.


3. Be able to tolerate changes in diet, living, sanitation, communication, long days filled with mentally and physically challenging activities and a routine that is likely much different than a Fellow’s usual routine at home.


4. Be able to learn skills and engage in activities to support oneself, the cohort, and program partners including those necessary for living in remote areas. This includes, but is not limited to: homestay chores, traveling to and from community engagement activities and apprenticeships, caring for personal items, abiding by homestay rules.


5. Be able to tolerate living in a new climate with varied weather patterns and an environment at varying elevations (low to high) with a variety of stimuli, including insects, extreme temperature changes, intense sunlight, wind, storms and wildlife.


6. Be able to respond appropriately in the face of unexpected challenges in traveling, such as homesickness, unfamiliar surroundings, limited language skills, delays in travel, changes in scheduling and itineraries, and downtime.


7. Be able to take personal responsibility for belongings, program equipment, and behavior.


8. Be open and willing to interact with new and unfamiliar cultures.


9. Be able to engage in cross-cultural activities and apprenticeship projects that may include building, digging, painting, construction, farming, etc. for 6-8 hours per day with tools.

Ready to Go?

Now that you know what we’re looking for, let’s get started!

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