Apply for Accreditation

Here's what organizations are saying about the AGA accreditation process:

"Just a note to say that we've gone through three different accreditation schemes this year and we've found that the AGA accreditation scheme was by far the most thorough and the most valuable to us, in terms of having us undertake a detailed critical review of all aspects of our operation.

Thank you for getting such a good accreditation scheme up and running. I'm sure AGA will have the effect of improving GAP experiences for students on any AGA accredited program.

Best Wishes, Scott."

"The accreditation process was a productive and positive experience for Thinking Beyond Borders. We appreciated the structured approach to reflecting upon our systems and programs. We were able to take clear steps to improve our systems and celebrate the areas where we were already doing good work. We're proud of our AGA certification, but we're also appreciative of how the process has made us a stronger organization."

Robin Pendoley, Executive Director and Co-Founder, Thinking Beyond Borders."


Benefits of Accreditation

Accredited Organizations of the American Gap Association will benefit in a variety of ways, principally in that they will stand to have an increase in student enrollment by easily identifying (through the use of the AGA Seal of Accreditation) their commitment to the highest standards and quality in Gap Year education. The accreditation process can also help identify and remedy any areas that potentially need to be addressed. While most Gap Year organizations already operate with a high standard of practice, being able to show as much to their potential clients through the use of the AGA Seal of Accreditation of course is invaluable. Additionally, Accreditation by the AGA will have the benefit of acting as a central hub for advocacy and institutional knowledge.

Some of the reasons organizations choose to join the American Gap Association include:

  1. Demonstrated commitment to the highest standards in the industry
  2. Use of AGA Seal of Approval
  3. Potential discounts on liability insurance
  4. Potential discounts on Medical supplies (epipens, etc.)
  5. Discounts on travelers health and evacuation insurance, and 24 hour medical expertise by a US Medical Doctor
  6. Access to risk and crisis management, assessment, partnership forms and models in the growing toolbox
  7. Publicity/advertising on the American Gap Association website
  8. Access to support for common issues and on-the-fly best practices and questions
  9. Access to up-to-date evidence-based data/statistics
  10. Communications and public relations support
  11. Open source forms and best practice consultation on everything from legal forms to student admissions processes


The Accreditation Process

The Accreditation process for the American Gap Association is designed to be substantive in its enforcement and verification process. Applicant organizations must fill out a lengthy application for each certification, then undergo a two-part verification process that includes the organization, and student experiences. Where appropriate, and on a case-by-case basis, AGA staff will also seek independent verification of partners (i.e., non-profits, language schools, internships). Once submitted to AGA, the actual application will be assigned an anonymous number, and any clear indicators of the organization will be stripped. Then, the application will be evaluated by a team of three people: one from AGA, one from the Board of Directors, and one from the Board of Advisors. Only AGA staff will evaluate "sensitive" materials such as budgets that will most likely be found in the Philosophy & Ethics certification. We anticipate an average time for the accreditation of approximately three weeks from the point an application is received. Organizations that are unable to meet our basic standards will be coached through the processes they need for improvement and will be encouraged to reapply. Full re-evaluation will take place every two years.

Organizations, once accredited, will be issued a badge for their websites and marketing materials to show their commitment and proven ability to orchestrate the highest quality programs. Unfortunately, because accrediting each individual program within an organization would be untenable, AGA strives to instead take a sampling of half of any organization's programs and test their ability to meet the Standards.

The pathway to becoming Accredited looks like this:

Applicant Organization

This is the first stage. An organization that is in the process of applying wears this title. The initial application will by far be the most significant commitment of time for any organization, but one that has a good records keeping system that's somewhat centralized should be able to fill out the application in a concerted few days of work. . . . Think of this as like applying for a grant.

Provisional Status

Organizations that have submitted their application and are either currently in review, or are on a coaching-track for full Accreditation, will carry this title. The time for review should take approximately 3-5 weeks from the receipt of your application, at which point either full Accreditation will be awarded (and all the perks therein), or, a follow up of questions may be needed. The goal of the AGA is to ensure the highest quality of program for any student attending an AGA Accredited Organization. In some cases, while an organization may be 90% to that point, some time and coaching will be required to close the final 10% gap. Provisional organizations will have access to all available open source information, and be granted an AGA login.

AGA Accredited Organization

Accredited Organizations will have access to the AGA Seal of Approval and all of the relevant Accreditation perks, thereby demonstrating the highest calibers of both safety and quality. Review will take place every two years and of course AGA will be available on an as-needed basis to support Accredited Organizations.

Non-Accredited Programs

In some cases, either organizations may not want to commit to so many safeguards, . . . in other cases an organization may simply not fall under the category of Gap Year as defined by the American Gap Association. These should be construed as less-established organizations - though not ones to stay away from. Students and Parents are encouraged to do their research prior to joining a Non-Accredited Program.
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