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FAQs

Answers to frequently asked questions.

Our mission is to impart an education that will prepare young people to be principled, creative individuals of independent judgment, capable of succeeding and leading in tomorrow’s dynamic world civilization.

General Questions

Our Overseas program is for adults of any age where you’ll learn from the greatest thinkers and worthwhile modern works in an overseas excursion filled with riveting conversation, explorations of our surroundings, and convivial meals. Previous locations include Greece and Sicily. We also offer bi-weekly Great Books Conversations in Chicago, which are free to attend.

a. Each participant must bring their reading to all sessions, come to all of the sessions, arrive on time, and stay during the discussion unless he or she has an emergency.

b. Each participant prepares for the seminars during his or her individual time.

c. Participants must ask questions of the text and each other.

d. Participants must cite the text to give evidence for their ideas and interpretations.

e. Participants should try to make connections to previous sessions and to their lives.

f. Each person takes responsibility for his or her own learning and for the quality of the conversation.

g. Each person recognizes that Reason is the only authority in the discussion, which means that each person must offer facts and logic for his or her arguments; no one, not even the instructor, is an authority.

h. Each person treats the other participants respectfully.

Whether you are a recent high school graduate searching for direction or an older adult simply seeking connections with like-minded explorers, let’s have a conversation about how The Great Connections can guide you. Fill out our contact form and we’ll be in touch.

A method developed in the early part of the 20th century to teach The Great Books. In the late 1920s, a committee assembled by University of Chicago President Robert Maynard Hutchins were worried about the emphasis on narrow specialization in American colleges which fail to educate in great ideas and reasoning, and in the products of Western civilization and thought. They knew that an education in the liberal arts, with an emphasis on cross-disciplinary, integrated, and moral learning was essential to developing the free human being and the foundation for real professional and personal success.

What Makes Our Method Different?

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.

Many young people haven’t had the opportunity or the experiences needed to learn how to judge what’s best for themselves. If you’re one of them, 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.

You’ll discuss works of great authors about key topics which will sharpen your understanding of how to think and how to live.

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.

About the Gap Year Experience

The Gap Year Experience takes place over the course of nine months, beginning in September, and spans three trimesters.

Yes, we accept and have accepted students from all around the world.

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 Gap Year Experience does not provide housing directly.

Check out this page for information on how to apply. The Gap Year program begins in September 2020. If you are accepted, we will update you about all the practical details beginning in the Spring of 2020.

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!

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.

The price for the 9-month Gap Year Experience is $10,000.  Please refer to this page for more information on what that includes, the payment schedule, and more.

Age 18+, high school diploma or the equivalent, a completed application and interview are all necessary to be considered for the program.

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.

We offer 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! We also recommend that you speak with previous attendees and/or their parents. Fill out this form today to get connected!

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.

Tutors are guides, trained to help each person figure out what they think and why they think it. The number of participants to tutors is always low so that each person receives a large amount of personalized attention. 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.

Participants in the Gap Year Experience 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.

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.

The Story Behind Our Logo

Our logo is based on this sculpture, called “The Atlas Slave” by famed Renaissance sculptor Michelangelo Buonarroti. 

This figure seems partially entombed in stone. Part of him is hidden: undefined and bound. Yet what is visible is powerful, muscular and striving.

Perhaps you’ve felt like this before: like there are parts of you bound, restricted, unfree. Perhaps you know you are capable of more. 

Many participants at the Great Connections have felt this way. It’s one of the things that draws them here. Like you, they’re a work of art unfolding before the eyes of others.

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