Students participating in an API program won’t take on the world empty-handed. API programs are all-inclusive, so budgeting is easy. Housing, entrance fees, most supplies, ground transportation, and all cultural, social, volunteer and recreational events and more are all included in the program cost. Most summer programs also include daily meals. Most importantly, API provides trained, professional on-site staff whose first priority is the students’ health and safety.
API staff members guide students and parents through the administrative process of preparing for the summer or gap year program. Students and parents may contact API as often as they desire with questions about pre-departure preparations, academics, transfer credits, on-site logistics, booking flights, special needs, visa procedures, and more. API staff members are frequently in touch with students and parents regarding program updates, essential travel tips, and recommendations for having a successful experience abroad.
All API students and their parents receive an orientation handbook containing practical information to help students prepare for their study abroad session. New in 2014, API gap year participants are also encouraged to participate in the Destination Transformation program.
Destination Transformation guides API gap year students through the process of self-discovery throughout each phase of their program: before, during and after their time abroad. By providing preprogram activities and self-guided reflections throughout the session and post-program, API offers a framework for processing the transformative effects of a gap year. Our goal is to help students reflect upon the purpose and philosophy behind their choice in taking a gap year, and help bridge these learning outcomes towards their future goals in college and ultimately, their career.
All API students are met at the airport by on-site staff on the program start date. If students have alternate travel plans, API can arrange an airport-hotel transfer service for an additional fee so that independent travelers can meet up with the group on-site. Students receive detailed flight instructions upon their acceptance into the program and should wait to purchase a flight until receiving more information post-acceptance.
All API students in China, Europe and most of Latin America can choose to receive a free phone* with discounted calling packages. Students order their cell phone online prior to departure, providing a credit card for billing purposes. If ordered at least two weeks before departure, API pays for the shipping and handling fees. The phones are mailed to students in the U.S. so that they have the phone and phone number before arriving in the host country. When in the host country, incoming calls are free for students. Outgoing calls incur a per minute charge, and text messages also carry a fee per text. As this service is not available in all countries, students in Cambodia, Ecuador, and Thailand, will have the option to purchase a negotiated international mobile plan with data coverage through an international telecommunications company. With these mobile options, parents, API on-site directors, as well as family and friends at home and abroad can communicate with students and more easily contact them in the event of an emergency.
*Only the SIM card has to be returned upon completion of the session abroad, except for participants in China and Costa Rica, which need to return both the SIM and phone.
API has created social networks for students to connect with each other and learn about API program offerings, including a Facebook page (facebook.com/APIabroad), a profile on Twitter (twitter.com/APIabroad), and photo groups on Flickr (flickr.com/APIabroad), Pinterest (pinterest.com/APIabroad), and Instagram (instagram.com/APIabroad). These networks provide students with the opportunity to communicate informally with other outbound students and API staff members, as well as to be notified of upcoming events and program developments.
Each year, API awards thousands of dollars in scholarships to high-achieving students. Students must have a minimum 3.25 G.P.A., submit an accompanying essay, and demonstrate financial hardship as well as extraordinary academic merit. The scholarship application can be found on the API website here: http://aspirebyapi.com/assets/aspire_scholarship_application.pdf
API has highly-qualified, trained and experienced English-speaking on-site staff available to students throughout their program abroad. API on-site staff work together with the U.S.-based API staff to provide students with constant support throughout their stay as well as practical information and insight about the new culture. They are available in case of any personal emergency and are ready to implement the API emergency response plans if needed.
The on-site orientation takes place upon arrival in the host city. API orientations include tours of the host city, as well as practical information about life in the host city, including health, safety, and local culture. The orientation is designed to minimize adjustment difficulties upon arrival and gives students a chance to get to know other participants in the program.
Housing, Meals and Laundry
Housing and most meals are included in the program fee for API's summer programs. Meals for gap year students vary according to housing choice and may or may not be included. Depending on the program and the student’s age, students are housed with host families, in residence halls, or, in some cases, in hotels, hostels, or volunteer guest houses. Host families have been carefully screened by API staff and provide laundry service and two to three meals per day (except when students are on excursions). Most residence halls provide access to coin-operated washing machines and a kitchenette where students can prepare their own meals. In the case of hotel/hostel/guesthouse,and residence hall accommodation on summer programs, API on-site staff will reside with the students. Breakfast is provided at the hotel when students are on overnight excursions.
A $250 security deposit is due by the final payment deadline for all programs. This deposit is not included in the program cost. A cleaning and general maintenance fee of $75 will be withheld from all security deposits. The remaining $175 is refundable provided that no fees are owed to API, including any additional fees assessed on-site for incidentals or damages. Housing for all gap year students during the period between the fall and spring semesters is not included in the API program fee. Most students take advantage of this time to return home to the U.S. or to travel around their host country. In most cases, API can arrange between-term housing for students in their host city for an additional fee.
Tuition and College Credit
Some API programs include a fixed number of U.S. college credits that a student can earn per session, while others offer multiple course options. If the program is for credit, the amount of U.S. college credits to be earned will be indicated on the program information page.
Language tutoring is available free of charge for all gap year API students (approximately 1 hour per week for each student). Arrangements can be made with the API on-site director. Should additional assistance be required, API on-site directors can help students arrange outside tutoring for an additional fee.
Community Involvement and Volunteer Opportunities
While API summer community service programs are focused on the service component, most API gap programs also offer students the option to get involved with the local community through organized group community service projects. Gap year and semester students have expanded volunteer opportunities available and should contact the API office to explore opportunities available in different locations.
Medical and Life Insurance
Medical and life insurance is provided for all students during the program term. This insurance coverage includes medical evacuation and repatriation, as well as 24-hour support services for medical emergencies
Overnight Excursions and Day Trips
Students have the opportunity to broaden their education through organized day trips and overnight excursions, which are included in the program price. Overnight lodging (if applicable), breakfast, entrance fees, and transportation to and from the excursion locations are included. To find out which excursions are included in the program, visit the API website. Although excursions are subject to change depending on availability, weather and other factors, students are provided with an itinerary for their program, including the program excursions, prior to departure.
Social, Recreational and Cultural Activities
API programs are fun as well as enriching! Summer programs offer several API-sponsored social, recreational and cultural activities per week, including welcome and farewell meals, outings to movies, sports activities, reflection sessions, concerts, theater performances, museums, cultural tours, visits to local attractions and more. All entrance and transportation fees are included in the API program price, reducing the amount of out-of-pocket money needed by students on-site. Gap year and gap semester students are offered several group cultural activities per semester, and are encouraged to get involved with the host community by participating in volunteer opportunities. API Program Managers also provide assistance to students who wish to pursue specific personal interests while abroad.
Reducing Your Impact - Carbon Clear
API has partnered with Carbon Clear, one of the world’s largest providers of carbon offset credits, to offer students the opportunity to address the environmental effect of their study abroad travel. All of Carbon Clear’s projects contribute to environmental sustainability and have measurable social improvement as a primary goal. API works with Carbon Clear to choose projects that students may elect to sponsor (for a contribution of $15). Past examples have included a methane capture landfill project in Valparaíso, Chile, and energy efficient railways in Delhi, India.
API places great value on post-program evaluation from students. At the end of each session, students are asked to complete a confidential evaluation of their program. These evaluations are submitted directly to the API Texas office and ensure that future students receive the best service possible.
Returning students have the opportunity to continue to be engaged with API through a variety of alumni programming opportunities. Whether you are connected through the API Alumni Network, keeping up to date with current job postings and items of interest in the API Alumni Facebook and LinkedIn groups, or participating in API’s Global Leadership Academy, API continues to support participants post-experience. API’s Global Leadership Academy offers student leaders the opportunity to build core competencies of global leadership in a dynamic and creative atmosphere. The program helps participants develop skills to share their experience in their community, on campus and in job interviews. Students host collaborative events to share their international story and learn to integrate their international experience into their chosen career path. The program empowers participants to transform the world, as the world transformed them.
Many API summer study and gap programs offer students the opportunity to earn U.S. college credits. Upon completion of the program session, an official transcript from the foreign university documenting these studies will be sent to the API office. While a copy will be sent to each student, an official transcript will be kept on file at the API office. When students have determined which university they will attend, API will send the official transcript to the student’s university along with a letter of translation (if necessary). API encourages students to discuss their academic choices with their guidance counselor or advisors at their future college if possible, to determine how credits reflected on the transcript can be transferred toward their degree plan. In addition, API will provide students who participate on API summer community service programs with a certificate of completion in order to document their community service hours.