If you’re interested in a meaningful gap experience, look no further than Washington, D.C.
Luckily for students in American University’s Gap Program in Washington, they are at the center of the action and getting an up-close view of an international capital that has an active role in shaping the world.
The AU Gap Program is home to 10 to 20 students each semester in which students experience seminars, field trips and internships. Students live on the 84-acre AU campus in the District of Columbia (only four miles from the White House!). The program is open to high school graduates who to spend one semester or the academic year experiencing an insider view of policy, international affairs and the U.S. government. Students get to experience life on a college campus, while adding internship experience to their resumes. AU Gap is accredited by the American Gap Association – currently the only university gap program to be accredited! Additionally, candidates do not need to have plans to attend AU for their undergraduate degrees. AU Gap students come with many goals and education plans, and the program focus is to help them be more successful at their next program – be it at AU or another school.
Depending on the semester, students can choose one of the following seminars: American Politics, Global Business, or International Relations.
All classes are led by AU professors who host guest experts and set up site visits to nonprofits, government agencies and private companies. Students who attend the AU program earn seven college credits, potentially transferable to another college or university or to AU.
The American Politics seminar is offered in the spring and fall semesters. This fall, it includes visits to the Newseum (the media museum in Washington), a visit to the Supreme Court in which students sit in on case hearings, a panel of 9/11 speakers, a briefing at the World Bank, an introduction to the role of lobbying in D.C., and a visit to the Pentagon. Two days after the Nov. 8 election, students will talk about the result with Elaine Kamarck of the Brookings Institution, author of “Why President’s Fail and How They Can Succeed Again.”
Fall semester students also have the option of the Global Business Seminar, which explores both theory and practice. Students attending the spring semester can choose the International Affairs Seminar, which looks at the impact of world events and U.S. foreign policy. Through these seminars, students gain exposure to the field through site visits to such organizations as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, embassies, and think tanks around the District.
Students round out their gap experience with an internship at a Washington, D.C., area organization (including some on Capitol Hill). Some placements are all about politics; others concentrate on areas such as communications, sports management and business.
By way of the seminars and internships, AU professors act as mentors – meeting with students and helping them develop the important analytical, writing and study skills they will need to be successful in college and the workplace.
The AU Gap Program has rolling admissions, so students can apply now for the spring and fall semesters. (Application deadline for spring has been extended to Nov. 4! The Fall 2017 deadline is May 15.).
An important component of the AU Gap Program is that our gap students live in AU residence halls, with other first-year students. AU Gap students have the advantage of using campus resources and joining AU clubs and organizations. And, downtown Washington, with museums and parks, is only a short Metro ride away.
What does a gap semester or year at AU mean for you? This is how current student, Nicole Ianellea, put it:
“I chose the AU Gap Program because I still wanted to learn and get some sort of college experience during my year off. I had always been interested in politics, so that’s what initially drew me to this program. I was then intrigued by the unique internship aspect, considering that not many 18 year olds have the opportunity to intern 3 days a week in the middle of such a major city. Now that I’m here, I love feeling as though I am a typical college student, yet I still have plenty of time to do so many cool things through AU, my internship, and even throughout DC. There are always plenty of things going on!”