Through Verto, students can earn up to 16 college credits in their freshmen year overseas while staying on track to graduate from their US institutions within four years.
“Students can start their freshman year by doing some time abroad”
The company offers students “a gap year without the gap”, with studies at accredited academic programs for a half or a full year, before beginning their courses at US institutions.
“With Americans a trend that has never quite caught on is gap years. Everyone goes for the four year path, it’s expensive to take gap years [and] it scares parents,” according to Mallory Meiser, Verto’s co-founder.
“We are a one-stop shop for taking some time abroad, getting credit and also getting admission to college,” she said.
“Essentially what happens is that students can start their freshman year of college by doing some time abroad, but earning enough credits to keep them on track to graduate in four years,” Meiser explained.
Verto expects to recruit between 200 and 300 students in this year’s cohort.
Meiser argued students are “burned out” by the time they reach college.
“We tie everything that students learn directly into field work… and it gets them excited about learning again. Students don’t want to just sit in a lab and learn – now they can actually go and apply it.”
Students can choose from eight destination countries, Fiji, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Laos, China, Dominican Republic and Costa Rica.
“Our whole thing is ‘it’s a better way to start college’,” Meiser told The PIE News. “We say, ‘go and explore the world a little bit more, see what you want to do and come back to campus more mature, with a better outlook on the world’.”
Prices start at $12,00 for a semester (including room and board), which is significantly less than tuition at other US colleges, according to Verto.
Students can apply to Verto, and their partner colleges via their application. Successful applicants are accepted to at least one partner college.
Verto is currently partnering with 10 colleges across the US, and four outside the country – Macquarie University in Australia, University of Bristol in the UK, University of Auckland in New Zealand and University College Dublin in Ireland.
Correction: An earlier version of this article compared Verto’s fees to those at community colleges in the US.