Dear colleague,


I am one of you.


I work for a small liberal arts institution.  I understand the importance of enrollment, especially during uncertain times like the present.  A deferment can seem scary.  Waiting creates uncertainty, as students might change their minds, and it certainly doesn’t pay the bills.  


However, it can be a great opportunity for the student. A deferment is a chance for students to mature and gain perspective. It is a chance to grow and develop.  


What if you were able to keep these students engaged in your institution while they took a year to mature, to travel, or volunteer.  What if during that time, they also prepared for the rigors of college life and entered your institution ready to learn?


The Gap Year Project is about helping students build a foundation so they can thrive at the institution of their choosing. We know the struggles that first-year students have (the time management, the finances, the academic and social pressures).  The Gap Year Project aims to address these challenges during their time away. 


Students who enroll in our program will explore multiple careers and vocations. They will experience Strength Training with Gallup Certified StrengthsFinder Coaches. They will read books on diversity, wellbeing, emotional competence, the power of first impressions, building successful habits, and more. They will be exposed to thought leaders and authors, cutting edge student affairs professionals, and dynamic speakers. They will grow.


Then they will return to your campus, to your community, ready to be the leaders on your campus, the change agents in your community, ready to grow into the successful alums you need them to be.


I have spent nearly all my life fostering relationships and developing skills necessary to create this dynamic program.  Now, I just need the students. If you have students taking a gap and want to keep them engaged with your institution, let’s work together.  Let’s create a group of other students at your institution, who work through this program during their deferment.  Help keep them connected while they mature.  We will return them to you, ready to be the student leaders you need them to be.


For the last 15 years, I have worked for Augustana University developing student leaders. I have led a team of people through homecoming, welcome week, new student orientation, student conduct, first-year seminar, student clubs, leadership development, residence life, housing, volunteer programs, retention strategies, plus all the other things you are responsible for on a small liberal arts campus.  I have volunteered for NACA and NODA. I have presented at regional and national conferences and traveled supporting higher ed causes.  I’m excited to work with you.


With much respect and admiration for what you do,


Jeff Venekamp


The Gap Year Project