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How Adelphi Reinvented the Gap Year Experience

By: Katie Farkas

A gap year normally provides a student with an opportunity to learn unconventionally. They use this to get away from a traditional classroom setting and learn useful skills that can be carried to college and beyond. However, there is very little guidance for the student when thinking about taking a gap year and the lack of structure is unsettling. Adelphi has taken the idea of a gap year and made it into an amazing opportunity for students.

With the unpredictability of the Covid-19 pandemic, gap year activities are now limited, so starting this fall, Adelphi has created this remote program to help students learn problem-solving skills through a project-centered style of teaching.

According to Graziela Fusaro, director of the Center for Innovation, “There are different audiences for this program. So we have, for example, high school students who just finished high school and are joining the program. Some of the reasons that they are joining are because they don’t want to start their college life fully online. And some of the traditional gap year stuff like traveling or getting to know another culture, they can’t do this now. So this program is an opportunity for them to take a gap year, but also to do something meaningful that is going to help them to choose their future.”

Students who choose to participate in the program will be put into teams of four to eight and will work toward developing a consulting project for a company. The project could range in topics like strategy, marketing, social work, health, as well as other areas of interest.

“Adelphi’s gap year program is an opportunity for participating students to take a gap year, but also to do something meaningful that is going to help to choose their future career and goals and so far I think our return has been excellent,” said Fusaro. “It is an opportunity for students to apply what they are learning in the classroom into a real-life project… and we have a one-on-one mentorship program to review their resumes and LinkedIn together besides the time that they are working on their projects.”

The students also have the ability to choose whether they want to complete the program for three credit hours at a cost of $3,630 per term for an undergraduate and $4,035 for a graduate student, or the student can choose to participate in the certificate experience, which costs $3,200 per term for both undergraduate and graduate students.

The companies that partner with Adelphi could be domestic or international, nonprofits, start-ups and Fortune 500 companies. Students will be able to choose what they want to do based on their interests. They will be able to participate in activities like guest speaker series, lectures, team exercises, as well as company meetings.

Some of the goals of the gap year program that Adelphi has for participating students are for them to learn how to solve a problem by using the other members of their team and being able to break the problem into smaller parts to accomplish it. They will use team building and learning how to work with other students remotely and from various backgrounds to accomplish a goal and create solutions to a problem. They will also gain digital professional experience and learn how to work remotely. Lastly, the students will have the opportunity to try multiple projects in different subject areas to determine which they might want to further pursue as a career.

Students who have participated in the program this fall have really enjoyed their experience so far. Chloee-Gabrielle Louis, a recent high school graduate in the program, said, “The most valuable experience was working with my team members. Working with them has helped me improve my communication skills by making me realize that if I have something to say, whether it be a question or a suggestion, I shouldn't be afraid to express my thoughts to them.”

Thuy Linh Tran, a current Adelphi MBA graduate student, said, “Participating in the gap year program with IBM was one of the most wonderful chances that I have in my studying time in the US. I will recommend other students participate in this program because of the amazing experiences this program brings to us.”

Although the Covid-19 pandemic has created many challenges, Adelphi’s 11-week gap year program allows students to make the most of the time they spend at home. Although the program for the fall semester is already underway, they are still accepting applications for the coming spring semester.

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