Gap year with Global Citizen Year Shows HOW You Go to College Is More Important than Where You Go

Global Citizen Year, a transformative gap year experience for tomorrow’s global changemakers, today releases the findings from its inaugural Alumni Outcomes Report.

As high school seniors around the country navigate the college decision process, these survey results add to the growing evidence that how you go to college is more important than where you go in shaping positive outcomes in college, career, and life.

Global Citizen Year alumni are going to college with the perspectives, skills and mindsets that enable them to make the most of their undergraduate experience – and beyond.

“We know that preparing young people for today’s world demands a new paradigm of teaching and learning – one that wraps education and instruction around real-world experience,” says Abby Falik, Global Citizen Year Founder & CEO. “For years we’ve watched as our alumni approach college in the way any parent or educator dreams of — with a sense of purpose, the agency to pursue their passions, and a global perspective. Today, we’re thrilled to share the data that supports what we have observed anecdotally among our 700+ alumni.”

These findings illustrate how a well-designed gap year is anything but a “gap”. When done by design – and not default – a deliberate year between high school and college increases students’ motivation to succeed in college, because they arrive knowing what they most want to learn.

95% of Global Citizen Year alumni are currently enrolled in or have completed college.  They complete a bachelor’s degree in an average of 3.97 years, significantly faster than the national average of 5.1 years.  

For underrepresented students, the data are particularly compelling: 85% of Global Citizen Year alumni from low-income backgrounds have completed college or are on track to graduate. Nationally, just 37% of college students from low income backgrounds complete their bachelor’s degree.

In addition to increased maturity and confidence, Global Citizen Year alumni differ dramatically from their peers in how they approach the college experience. They are two to three times more likely than the average college student to seek out opportunities that are proven to prepare them for future career success. These activities include working on a project that takes a semester or more to complete, having an internship or job that allows them to apply what they learned in the classroom, and being extremely active in extracurricular activities.

Global Citizen Year alumni bring a global perspective and cross-cultural skills to college:

  • 91% return proficient in a new language;
  • 96% consider their ability to work with people from diverse backgrounds a personal strength;
  • Global Citizen Year alumni are seven times more likely to study abroad during college than the average student, and two times more likely to spend at least a semester.


Outside of the classroom, alumni are becoming active citizens on and off campus:

  • 90% of alumni have voted in a student or national election in the past year;
  • 74% have demonstrated for a cause in the past year, compared to 24% nationally;
  • 86% of alumni say it is very important or essential to them to help promote racial understanding, compared to 51% nationally.


As they finish college, Global Citizen Year alumni are finding careers that align with their values and will drive lasting social impact.

  • 92% of alumni in the workforce report being engaged and stimulated at work, compared to just 39% of recent college graduates nationally.
  • 85% of alumni say they believe their job makes a difference in the lives of others.


Julie Lythcott-Haims, author of How to Raise An Adult and former Dean of Freshmen at Stanford University stated: “These impressive findings about the outcomes of taking a well-designed, immersive gap year are powerful data for those reimagining how higher education will prepare students to thrive in today’s world.”


Read the full Global Citizen Year Alumni Outcomes Report here.

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Global Citizen Year is moving forward as part of our new, larger brand: Tilting Futures. New name, same mission, expanded programs and impact.