What are the basics of the Leap year program?
The Leap Year program happens over the course of nine months in Chicago, IL. It spans three trimesters. In the program you will work with a small group of other explorers, seeking to find your best life-path of achievement and adventure. You’ll discuss works of great authors about key topics which will sharpen your understanding of how to think and how to live. These thinkers, from ancient to modern times, will astonish you with their relevance to your life and today’s problems.

You’ll gain confidence in your ability to explain, persuade, think, or dramatize. You’ll have an opportunity to work on a real world problem with a small group, and you’ll also learn about personal finance, economics, the stock market, technology, and the role of art in a well-lived life. You’ll have fun all the while, getting to know your fellow participants more deeply and participating in activities together such as museum outings, convivial dinners, and games.

How do I apply to the Leap Year program?
Check out this page for information on how to apply. The Leap Year program begins in September 2019. If you are accepted, we will update you about all the practical details beginning in the Spring of 2019.

How do I know if the program is worth the cost?
The program offers you highly individualized help based on world-shaping content and the best ways of learning and growing, as well as substantial practical experience and networking. Previous students in our programs have experienced empowering and life-transforming changes because of key features of our content and methods. You’ll discover your best and most productive way forward and acquire the tools to leap ahead, whatever your direction: college…business…the arts….you fill in the blank!
You can read many of our students’ comments here. We also recommend that you speak with previous attendees and/or their parents. Fill out this form today to get connected!

What is the difference between the Leap Year program and other gap year programs out there?
We have carefully designed the content and methods of the program to maximize your ability to figure out your best life path. We focus on enabling you to have excellent independent judgment, self-confidence, reasoning powers, social skills, and to learn about ideas across the ideological spectrum, so you can think for yourself. We want to prepare you to live as an independent and free person. We combine this with practical experience, individual mentoring, and networking with highly accomplished people in a large variety of fields. You’ll gain valuable practical skills that will serve you well in your career, family, and social life! And we introduce you to subjects and experiences that will expand and enrich your knowledge and life.

Why participate in the Leap Year program instead of going straight to college or into a job?
College is expensive, and it’s only too easy to get stuck in a job you don’t like.  Many young people haven’t had the opportunity or the experiences needed to learn how to judge what’s best for themselves. Often, even top students flounder. Many have followed all the recommendations of others, including the “experts,” only to find out those recommendations were not right for them. That’s why they can get confused in college, pick the wrong major and only discover they have made a mistake when they get into the work world.  Our program will save you money and grief by helping you figure out what direction you should take and how to go about taking it before you waste money and valuable time.

What skills and experiences do Leap Year participants gain during the program?

  • You’ll learn “the best that has been thought and said” and how to apply that to your own life, so you can make excellent judgments and live well.

  • You’ll learn about your inner self and your deepest needs so you’ll come away with a much higher ability to navigate your life successfully.

  • You’ll learn how to find the evidence for your beliefs and to reason well about them.

  • You’ll deeply increase your understanding of the relationship of ideas to everyday life and world events

  • You’ll learn how to have great, productive conversations with other people, in which you’ll broaden your reasoning skills.

  • You’ll gain tremendous self confidence in your thinking, judgment, and interactions with others as a consequence of the above.

  • Moreover, your conversational skills translate into excellent teamwork skills when going into the work world.

  • You’ll learn about how to organize your personal finances and about economic principles that will help you make good decisions about those finances.

  • You’ll also experience a huge broadening of experience within the work world, people of different cultures, and artistic and practical experiences.

  • All this will enable you to develop deep friendships with people who really get to know you and care about you.

What is the relationship between Leap Year participants and program tutors?
The number of participants to tutors is always low so that each person receives a large amount of personalized attention. Tutors are guides, trained to help each person figure out what they think and why they think it. Tutors have frequent individual meetings with participants, as well as engaging in games and meals so that the tutors and participants can get to know each other well. We have found this leads to close, supportive relationships.

What are the requirements for being a Leap Year program participant?
Age 18+, high school diploma or the equivalent, a completed application and interview are all necessary to be considered for the program.

Where does the Leap Year program take place?
The Great Connections Leap Year program takes place in Chicago, IL, known for its bold architecture and its incredible museums! Chicago is located on Lake Michigan, is among the largest cities in the United States, and is rich in culture and history, recreation and business. See this page for more information about the city.

What is it like to leave home and move to a new place for the Leap Year program?
We know that many of our participants are moving for the first time, which is a big and adventurous step. Being in a new city and exploring new opportunities can be an exhilarating experience and we consider it to be an important aspect of our program. Throughout the process our staff will be working with you to make the transition comfortable, and you’ll immediately have new friends that become family by virtue of being a program participant.

Where do students live?
Students may live in a variety of locations. The private University Center dormitory and conference center, in the heart of downtown Chicago and steps from the Rock Island Metra Train which will take you to your classes, is an excellent choice. We are happy to help you explore that option. Students may also wish to live in an apartment, townhouse, or room in a private house and our staff is happy to provide direction on how to find these options, and to help connect fellow students if they wish to room together. The Great Connections Leap Year program does not provide housing directly.

What are Leap Year program participants like?

Participants in the Leap Year program will come from all around the world with varying backgrounds but a common interest in learning and growing together. Our group will be comprised of graduates from private, public, and home schools and from cities, towns, and rural areas, speaking many different languages and having very different life experiences.

Can I participate in the Leap Year program if I’m from outside of the United States?
Yes, we accept and have accepted students from all around the world.

How much does the Leap Year program cost?
The price for the 9-month Leap Year program is $20,000.  Please refer to this page for more information on what that includes, the payment schedule, and more.

Do you offer student scholarships?
Yes! Thanks to the contributions of key donors, we are usually able to find funding for those who need it. Apply for a scholarship here.