It is not uncommon for large, urban and suburban high schools to have an individual on staff to help move students toward graduation and determine their next steps. This person works in conjunction with the school counseling department and they organize the college fairs & visits, track students post-graduation plans, track their scholarship offers and support students who are struggling to reach graduation.
For some students, their next steps may include university study, for others it will be military service and for others it will be the workforce. Why not include a fourth option for students of a gap year? Many graduation coaches, career counselors or school counselors haven’t considered the gap year option for their students because they don’t know about it, they don’t understand it, they don’t see the value in it or fear that their students can’t afford it. AFS-USA would like to change that and those conversations are best when led by a local volunteer.
Check with the school with whom you are assigned or work and check to see who organizes the college fairs. Usually, there is a college fair for seniors early in the fall (from August-October) as college applications are due on November 1st. In the second semester schools usually host another round of college visits or another college fair for underclassmen so they begin thinking about their post-graduation plans.
As a non-profit, and by sharing scholarship information and gap year options, many schools will allow AFS-USA to have a table or virtual booth just like the university representatives. It is worth asking the question to see if you can participate in their events and don’t forget to ask the question if you can participate for free. The universities usually pay to participate, but some schools may allow a non-profit like AFS to attend for free.
Information we would encourage you to share at the event includes:
- Sponsored Programs scholarships: CBYX, YES Abroad and NSLI-Y.
- Other AFS scholarships – Visit the scholarship website here for a current listing with deadlines and details.
- Local AFS scholarships – Visit the scholarship website here or talk to your area team chair or treasurer.
- AFS study abroad programs
- Ways for students to get involved and volunteer with AFS as a resume builder
- Opportunities to be a host brother/sister for an exchange student
- Marketing materials such as hand sanitizer, stickers, brochures, etc…
As many schools are navigating a virtual or hybrid learning space in the 2020-2021 academic year, it helps if AFS can be virtual and flexible to meet schools where they are. Attached is a PowerPoint that can be edited to do the same thing that you would do at a table/booth in-person, but walk students through their options virtually!