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Service Year


What is a Service Year?

Ready to get your feet wet and be an active part of this big wide world? A service year is a chance to take a break from formal education and travel, volunteer, study, intern, work, or perform research for the purpose of serving a community or society in need. Alternately referred to as a “gap year,” a service year is a way for students to get hands-on education and experiential learning post-graduation.

What are the benefits?

A service year provides life experience and job training, and teaches you more about who you are and who you want to be. A service year can also help you develop and test new skills such as working with people, time management, working independently, problem-solving, coping, and managing a project. Most importantly, it provides a chance to make a difference in the world without the burdens of debt and obligation.

How long does it last?

Service years can be anywhere from a few weeks, a semester, and even up to one and two years in duration. There are service programs for every interest and career focus. Service year experience will set you apart from other college graduates, and help you to stand out to future employers and graduate programs.

Where can you go?

Things to Consider:

  • Philosophy/Mission:
    • What are your passions, and how do they compare to the mission and philosophy of the program you are interested in?
  • Provisions: What is included in or provided by the program, and what will you be responsible for during your time of service?
    • Consider provisions such as: living stipends, housing stipends, healthcare, transportation, etc.
  • People:
    • It is likely that during your service you will meet and work with people from all over the United States, and possibly from all over the world. You will live in community and serve with individuals who come from all different walks of life, faiths, and backgrounds. Keep an open mind as you enter into a new adventure - you never know what you will learn or how your life will be affected by this time in your life!
  • Prepare:
    • You’re committing to a year (or more) of service, which means giving of yourself more than you ever have. The newness of your surrounding, daily tasks, people you work and live with will be an adjustment. It’s not easy - but the rewards are like nothing you’ve ever experienced. Do your research! This isn’t a summer camp - it’s a commitment designed to give you perspective and purpose.

Other helpful sources: Visit these websites to find out more about what a service year experience is like, and to find programs closely related to your interests.