Before diving into the details of SOAR’s Gap Year Programs, let’s meet Caroline Hamilton, the Admissions Director at SOAR.
Caroline was born and raised in Marietta, GA with a fun and exciting family. She played all kinds of sports and went camping with the family often. A curiosity and deep love of all things leisure and recreation-related was developed early on in her life and proved to be a guiding force in deciding on a career.
While in college, Caroline worked at summer camps in North Carolina and Tennessee. This experience only solidified her desire to become a camp professional in some capacity in the future.
While in grad school, she worked for SOAR at Eagle View Ranch as a field instructor in 2011. That fall she made a decision to stop writing her thesis, quit grad school, and forgo a Master’s degree. With no regrets, she moved back to Dubois to be a Course Director at SOAR in 2012.
Caroline plays a crucial role in helping families understand the program and ensure that it’s the right fit for their students.
The Application Process
The application process for GAP starts with a conversation with Caroline. During this initial chat, she wants to get to know your student better and understand your expectations for their gap year. It’s all about finding the perfect fit for both parties.
Once you’ve had that important conversation with Caroline, it’s time to start the formal application process. This consists of filling out an online application and submitting all the required documents. After receiving your application, Caroline will review it and schedule a Zoom interview.
This interview is a critical step in the process, as it allows Caroline to dig deeper into your student’s personality and goals. After the interview, Caroline collaborates with the GAP directors to determine if your student is not only a good fit for SOAR but also if SOAR aligns with what you’re looking for.
Choosing a Program
SOAR offers two exceptional GAP programs. In the scenic DuBois, Wyoming, you’ll find the GAP West program, while the GAP East program is nestled in the beautiful Maggie Valley, North Carolina. These locations provide a stunning backdrop for a year of growth and development.
As part of the application evaluation, Caroline will contact references. Ideal references for your GAP student include counselors, therapists, psychologists, teachers, coaches, tutors, or anyone who can provide a comprehensive perspective on your student’s character. These references provide valuable insights beyond what’s on paper or seen in the interview.
Making the Decision
Once the application and interview process is complete, SOAR will inform you of their decision. This process typically takes around two weeks, but SOAR is flexible to accommodate your needs and ensure you make the right decision.
A Gap Year Tailored to ADHD & Learning Challenges
SOAR’s gap year program is designed specifically for students with ADHD and other learning challenges. This program offers a supportive environment for students seeking personal growth during the transition between high school and their next step, whether it’s college, launching a career, or exploring alternative paths.
Students in the program have the opportunity to develop crucial independent living and life skills within a close-knit community of peers and mentors. Topics covered include executive functioning, time management, organizational skills, and the realities of living with roommates.
GAP students gain real-world experience through internships or volunteer opportunities, honing their skills and adapting to work dynamics under the guidance of supervisors or bosses.
The SOAR GAP Year Experience
Once your student is accepted into the program, you’ll be in contact with SOAR’s comptroller and registrar. They’ll guide you through the enrollment process and provide you with a packing list and gear guide. Together with your student, you’ll go shopping to ensure you have everything needed for the year ahead.
The gap year begins with an orientation day where both students and parents participate. During this event, you’ll meet the gap mentors and the gap year director. This is a crucial time for setting goals and discussing program expectations. Parents also have the opportunity to ask any last-minute questions.
After this orientation, it’s time to say your goodbyes, and your student is officially part of the SOAR Gap Year Program.
As your student completes their gap year, they will emerge with a stronger sense of self-confidence and self-awareness. SOAR emphasizes six success attributes that students will develop during their time in the program:
- Effective use of coping strategies.
- A well-defined support system.
- Goal-setting skills.
- Planning skills.
- Enhanced self-awareness.
Additionally, students will leave the program with a transition plan, ensuring they are well-prepared for independent living, college, or their chosen career path. Meetings with parents and mentors will further clarify the transition plan and provide guidance for the future.
SOAR’s Gap Year Programs offer a unique opportunity for students with learning challenges to gain valuable life skills, independence, and self-confidence in a supportive environment. If you’re looking for an enriching gap year experience, consider exploring what SOAR has to offer.