YOU'VE GOT QUESTIONS-- WE'VE GOT ANSWERS!
How much does an Alternative Break Cost?
For Winter and Spring Breaks, participants pay $270 and Site Leaders pay $245. Because Summer Breaks are longer, the cost for Summer participants is $295 and Site Leaders pay $270. Fall Breaks are $80 for participants, and $60 for Site Leaders. Participation in Weekend Breaks is free!
When is the program fee Due?
The program fee will be due on the second class meeting. If you choose to take the class for credit, this fee does not include tuition. Scholarships are available for students from a variety of sources, including the All Scholarship Hall Council, Honors Program, Multicultural Scholars Program, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, College of Engineering, and the School of Education. Our goal is to ensure everyone has access to participate in Alternative Breaks regardless of their financial situation, so scholarships are also available to individuals who do not fit these criteria. Scholarship applications will be made available during the first class period.
WHAT DOES THE FEE COVER?
Alternative Breaks is a not-for-profit organization and fees pay for your transportation, housing, meals, site fees and an AB t-shirt.
WHEN ARE THE TRIPS?
Fall breaks run for the duration of Fall beak (October 14 - October 17.) Winter Breaks occur during the last week of winter break (January 7 - January 14.) Spring Breaks run the duration of spring break (March 17 - March 25.) Summer Breaks run the first week of summer break (May 14 - May 24.) Weekend Breaks occur on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays throughout the academic year.
WHAT IS A SITE LEADER?
Each Alternative Break group has two student Site Leaders. These participants are responsible for organizing minor trip details, maintaining contact with their volunteer organization, handling any emergencies or problems that might arise on the trip, leading small group meetings, arranging the group’s pre-trip “mini-break” and facilitating group dynamics. Site leaders are also required to attend a number of Site Leader training sessions before departing on thier break. It is not necessary to have participated in a previous Alternative Break to serve as Site Leader, only a desire to lead and a willingness to exert some extra effort. For their additional effort, Site Leaders receive a discounted program fee, and we believe, gain invaluable leadership experience.
DO I TRAVEL WITH THE GROUP? HOW DO WE GET THERE?
For week-long trips, the groups travel together in 7-person rented SUV's. This is the most cost-effective form of transportation. Drivers must be at least 21 years of age, per our agreement with the rental agency, and we ensure there are multiple drivers per group. Transportation costs are included in the trip fee.
CAN I GET ACADEMIC CREDIT?
Yes! Winter, Spring, and Summer Breaks are recognized by KU as for-credit classes available for 2 credits as UNIV 492: Engagement with Communities. Participating in an Alternative Winter or Spring Break and taking the concurrent class can fulfill a Goal 5, Learning Outcome 2 (Social Responsibility and Ethics) general education requirement in the KU Core Curriculum. The classes are held during the group meeting times on Thursday nights from 5:30-7 pm and focus on volunteerism and the non-profit world. Students interested in taking the class for credit will be able to enroll after they have been accepted into the program. Please note that beginning the courses are enrolled as follows:
The for-credit Winter course will be enrolled as a Spring-semester course
The for-credit Spring course will be enrolled as a Spring-semester course
The for-credit Summer course will be enrolled as a Summer-semester course
Graduating seniors looking to use this experience to fulfill a Core Curriculum requirement should take note of this unique setup, and students should also be advised that the tuition payments for the course will occur in the semester in which it is scheduled.
CAN I COMPLETE MY SERVICE LEARNING CERTIFICATE WITH AN ALTERNATIVE BREAK?
The service learning certificate now requires 6 credit hours of service learning, 60 cumulative hours of volunteering, and a reflection completed through the Center for Service Learning. AB students can apply their volunteer experience toward the service requirement. Those taking the class for credit will count the AB experience as a 3-credit equivalent class (since there are 2 credit hours and the trip itself counts as an experience credit). Students will no longer receive the full Service Learning Certificate automatically aftering completing a week-long break. However, the credit class fulfills core goal 5 and allows students to receive a significant amount of the required volunteer hours for the Certificate.
WHAT IS THE CLASS COMPONENT LIKE?
If you choose to take the concurrent UNIV 492 course, there is a special enrollment process that happens after our first meeting. Classes occur during the regular Thursday evening meetings for 7 weeks leading up to the Break. Through blog, writing, and research assignments, the course is designed to elicit both self-reflection and critical analysis of social issues in America. At the end of the class, we hope that our students are able to:
Identify themselves and recognize their own capabilities, privileges, biases, assumptions, weaknesses and strengths
Articulate an understanding of the non-profit sector and volunteerism
Discuss social justice, community organization, and civic responsibility
Develop interactive skills to work with persons of diverse backgrounds and different value systems
Initiate service projects and become active and aware citizens in their own communities
DO I HAVE TO ENROLL IN THE CLASS TO PARTICIPATE IN THE BREAK?
You do not have to take the class for credit, but you still must be present at each group meeting on Thursday nights from 5:30-7pm. This time will be spent learning about volunteerism and the non-profit world, getting to know your group, and preparing for your trip. Even if you have been on a break before, the class will address important themes in new, relevant ways and allow you to meet and plan with your new group. There are no exemptions from the class for students who have been on a break before.
WHERE WILL WE STAY?
To keep costs low, groups traditionally stay together in churches, synagogues or community centers.
WHAT DO I NEED TO BRING?
Bring what you would ordinarily bring on a week-long trip, but keep in mind that different trips require different types of clothing. Your Site Leaders will have more information about the clothing appropriate for each break, but it is usually a good idea to bring a spare set of clothes you wouldn't mind getting dirty. Keep in mind that valuables are a liability and make sure you are not bringing anything irreplaceable, as Alternative Breaks cannot reimburse you for lost or stolen items. Also, groups travel in limited spcae, so pack light!
WILL GROUPS HAVE TIME TO EXPLORE THEIR DESTINATIONS?
Yes, each group typically has one “day off” to explore their destination. Because our primary focus is learning and spending time with non-profit organizations, groups are expected to volunteer all day for five days (for Winter and Spring) with their organization.
HOW DOES SELECTION AND PLACEMENT WORK?
Due to the large volume of applications, placement and selection is quite competitive. Our Coordinators grade applicants based on a two part system, grading both the online essay submission and the interview on a 4 point scale. Your grade out of total of 8 points will determine your placement. Applicants who indicate willingness to volunteer with multiple volunteer organizations will be the easiest to place, but please only do so in earnest. Additionally, individuals who have applied before but have not yet participated in a break will be given preference.
CAN I APPLY WITH MY FRIEND(S)?
We do not have the institutional flexibility to make personal arrangements, as we make placements based on essays and interviews. Additionally, Alternative Breaks offers a unique experience to get to know a new group of students who share your passion for service!
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR IN AN APPLICANT?
We are looking for students interested in learning about social justice issues, and how they affect populations! We love reading applications that really dive into a particular issue and demonstrate both interest and enthusiasm for social issues, or curiosity about the subject. We aim to send positive, curious, and cooperative volunteers to our non-profit partners across the nation.
HOW CAN I PREPARE FOR MY INTERVIEW?
Review the volunteer organizations that you chose, and reflect on why those organizations are important to you. The interviews are 15-minute small group interviews, so you’ll be in a room with a few other people (don’t worry, you’ll get plenty of time to answer). Proper interview attire is business casual. We don’t need resumes or portfolios, just well thought-out answers! Make sure to arrive on time, and if you are studying abroad, email us to set up a Skype interview!
WHAT IF I'M ONLY INTERESTED IN APPLYING FOR ONE BREAK?
That’s fine! Be aware that preference for only one site makes it more difficult to place you in our program, as the number of applications we receive is greater than the spots we have open, unfortunately. We advise you to please take extra time on your application essays and prepare to tell us why you're passionate about that volunteer organization during the interview process.
IS THERE A LIMIT TO THE NUMBER OF WEEK-LONG BREAKS I CAN GO ON?
In an effort to allow opportunities for all students to experience Alternative Breaks, we typically do not allow students to attend more than four week-long breaks (this excludes Fall and Weekend Breaks) during their entire time at KU. While we love to see participants apply for multiple breaks throughout their tenure here, we also want to provide a chance for new students to experience Alternative Breaks, and encourage you to apply for an executive position with Alternative Breaks (applications open annually in April).
CAN GRADUATE STUDENTS APPLY?
Yes! All KU students are invited to apply for Alternative Breaks.
IF I GRADUATE RIGHT BEFORE THE BREAK CAN I STILL APPLY?
If you are graduating in December, you are still eligible to attend Winter Breaks. If you are graduating in May, you are still eligible to attend Summer Breaks. Summer Breaks also do not interfere with Commencement or summer courses. Please note that the for-credit Winter course will be enrolled as a Spring-semester course and the Summer course will be enrolled as a Summer-semester course. Graduating seniors looking to use this experience to fulfill a Core Curriculum requirement should take note of this unique setup.
Your question not answered?
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