Building on the idea of the Waterloo co-op program, the US should add a one year service learning or apprenticeship model to the college admissions process, allowing a non-traditional alternative to college acceptance and funding. In addition to current service learning programs such as Americorps, create apprenticeship programs with companies throughout the US in all industries. These one year programs will occur during the first year after high school graduation, as additional GAP year options. Adding this GAP year alternative will not only create a source of funding tuition, it will allow students, regardless of their background, who are really unclear of their future career paths or those who just need a break from the academic rigor, to explore their strengths and weaknesses and how their passions fit into the 21st century workforce.
During the first quarter of the apprenticeships, students will spend a few weeks working in different functional areas of the business, learning the overall business model, meeting key leaders, and creating the opportunity to identify their strengths and passions. At the end of the first quarter, students will then sit down with their mentor within the company and decide on two or three best fits within the organization. The goal will be for each student to split the remainder of the year working in two or three different roles. They can be different roles with in the same functional area or in completely different functional areas. By taking on the different roles students will develop a more diverse portfolio, better understand the similarities and differences, and build a broader framework for their college experience and career development goals.
During their apprenticeships,students will live with a host family that lives within a close proximity to transit, and be provided a nominal monthly stipend the company, for personal expenses.
Upon completion of their apprenticeship, the student will receive $X, for tuition, books, and housing from the company.
During the year students will be required to document their experience, report on the specific projects to which they contributed, and write an essay about the corporate culture, the pros, cons, and their vision of the ideal work environment. The finished portfolios will be submitted to their college advisor for review and to be evaluated for college credit to be granted.