Do you have questions about Discover Year?
Below are some of the frequently asked questions we receive from students and parents. However, if you have questions that are not answered below, we would be happy to meet with you to provide answers! Please feel free to schedule a call with our Program Manager, Julia.
Structure & Programming
Crucial Skills Workshops (Discovery Days)
1. What are Discovery Days? Are they offered online, in person, or both?
Discovery Days happen every Wednesday throughout Discover Year (with the exception of the February travel period) and bring students together for a day of dynamic, interactive and engaging education. Due to Discover Year’s flexible hybrid model, Discovery Days happen both online and in person. Each month, two Discovery Days will be offered online, and two will be offered in person.
During the online Discovery Days, students will come together via video conference to participate in skills workshops, small group discussions, networking with professionals, and coaching.
For the in-person Discovery Days, students will meet up with Discover Year staff and coaches for various activities in the community, such as tours of college and university campuses, visits to corporate offices and headquarters, museum tours and other cultural activities, team-building exercises, and more! Watch our video to learn more about Discovery Days.
2. If a student lives outside of a main Discover Year location (Ottawa, Toronto or Boston), how will they participate in the in-person Discovery Days days?
Discover Year currently has three official locations: Ottawa and Toronto, Ontario for Canadian students, and Boston, Massachusetts for American students (you can learn more about our locations here).
But no matter where students are living, our team is committed to making sure Discovery Days are engaging, educational and fun for all students.
For students living outside of a Discover Year location, they have several options:
• Move to Ottawa (if they are a Canadian citizen) or Boston (if they are an American citizen) for the duration of their Discover Year. In this case, students will be able to join all in-person Discovery Days and activities in these cities each month. More information about moving to Ottawa/Boston can be found here.
• If students live within driving distance from Ottawa, Toronto or Boston and have access to transportation, they are welcome to join the in-person Discovery Days in Ottawa/Toronto/Boston each month. They will then join the online Discovery Days virtually like all other students.
• If students do not live within close proximity to Ottawa, Toronto or Boston and do not want to move to one of these cities for their Discover Year, we have an option for them as well! In this case, students will join the online Discovery Days virtually like all other students, and for the in-person Discovery Days, our staff and coaches will help students organize activities in their own city that are similar to the activities happening in Ottawa/Toronto/Boston (e.g. a campus tour, a visit to a museum, etc.). Students can do these activities on their own, or if there are multiple Discover Year students living in the same city, they can organize and attend the activities together. Then, all out-of-town students will come together virtually to meet with a Discover Year coach to debrief on their day and reflect on their lessons learned.
3. Are Discovery Days mandatory? What if students have to work on Wednesdays?
Discovery Days are mandatory throughout Discover Year (with the exception of illness, family emergencies, special circumstances, etc.). When students are applying and interviewing for jobs, they should explain to employers that they will be unavailable to work on Wednesdays and work with their supervisors to plan their schedule accordingly (Discover Year staff will coach students on how to do this in a polite and professional manner). To date, our students have had consistent success in making these arrangements with their employers to attend Discovery Days.
1. When do the work terms take place?
There are two work terms throughout Discover Year: one from September to January, and one from March to June. Students can keep the same job for both work terms, or apply for a new job for their second work term if they wish. The only requirement is that students do not work on Wednesdays so that they can join the weekly Discovery Days.
2. How does Discover Year help students secure a job?
Our team of staff and mentors offer ongoing training and coaching to help students find and secure employment. That said, it is ultimately the responsibility of the student to find a job for their work terms. Throughout the summer months, our students participate in a series of workshops and coaching sessions that help them build the necessary knowledge and skills to land a job for their first work term. These workshops enable students to write a professional resume and cover letter; effectively search for and apply for a job; be confident in job interviews; communicate professionally online and in-person, and more.
3. What types of jobs can students expect to get?
Due to the generally limited work experience and professional skills students have acquired by the time they enter Discover Year, most students work entry-level jobs: food service, retail, customer service, etc. This can include jobs like a cashier, restaurant server or barista, manual labour, retail associate, receptionist, and more. Some students may also wish to pursue more entrepreneurial work like babysitting, dog walking, or tutoring.
4. Will the jobs be paid?
For Canadian students who are living and working in Canada, all jobs will likely be paid as it is illegal in many provinces to hire students for unpaid work. Particularly if students are working for any large corporation or retail brand in Canada (for example: Shoppers Drug Mart, Metro, Tim Hortons, Cineplex, Nike, etc.), these companies will be required to pay students the basic provincial minimum wage. For American students working in the United States, however, unpaid internships are much more common, especially for high-school graduates who do not have a great deal of work experience. In these cases, some students may choose to combine paid work and volunteerism or unpaid internships. Ultimately, students should seek out and apply for employment opportunities that meet their financial needs and goals for the year.
5. How many hours per week do students need to work?
Based on Discover Year's financial model, students can, in theory, make approximately $18,000 if they work 30 hours per week throughout their Discover Year. However, this is only a guideline. Some students may wish to take on full-time hours (i.e. 40 hours per week), while others may prefer to take on a part-time job, particularly if they have other commitments such as school courses, sports activities, portfolio development, etc.
6. If students already have a job going into their Discover Year, do they need to find a new one?
Students who already have a job are welcome to keep that job throughout their work terms if they feel that the job is a good fit for them and they have opportunities to learn and grow within it. If they would like to find a new job, then our staff will support them through the application and interview process.
1. What is the travel period?
During the month of February, students will have the opportunity to embark on self-directed travel anywhere in the world! This means that students will be responsible for researching where they want to travel to, and planning and booking their own trip. The only requirements are that students identify a trip that is meaningful to them, set an intentional goal for their trip and step outside their comfort zone. Watch our video to see some highlights of past students' exciting travels and explorations.
2. What type of support will students get while planning their trip?
Leading up to the travel period, students will complete several travel planning workshops and receive ongoing support from our Discover Year staff, who will help navigate the essential elements of planning, including: identifying a meaningful goal, budgeting, intercultural awareness and how to travel safely.
3. Are there limits on where students can and cannot travel to?
Students can travel domestically or internationally, depending on their travel goals and comfort level. If travelling internationally, students should follow any government advice or advisories and ensure the country/countries they are visiting are safe for North American citizens. Additionally, because the goal of the travel period is to step outside your comfort zone, students are strongly discouraged from booking all-inclusive resort vacations in which all meals, accommodation, activities, etc. are organized for you.
4. Do students need to travel for the whole month? Can they travel for longer than a month?
Students have the entire month of February to travel. They can plan a shorter trip (i.e. one week) if they wish, or travel for the entire month. Students may travel for longer than one month if they wish, though they will need to notify the Discover Year Program Coordinator in advance. During their extra weeks of travel, students are expected to join the weekly Discovery Days workshops via Zoom video conference.
5. Do students have to travel alone?
Of course not! Students can choose to travel alone if they wish, or they can travel with friends or other Discover Year students. Depending on their comfort level, they may also travel with family members; however, it is strongly encouraged that the student takes the lead on planning the trip, activities, etc. to get the most out of the experience. If students choose to travel with family, a portion of the trip must be completed without immediate family members.
6. Where will students stay while travelling?
This is completely up to the student! They may wish to stay in hostels, hotels, Airbnbs, or with family members or friends who live in the city/country they are visiting.
7. Will students need a travel visa? Will Discover Year help them acquire one?
This will depend on where students plan to travel to. It will be up to the student to determine whether they need a visa or not, and if they do, it will be their responsibility to apply for it. Of course, Discover Year staff will be available to offer guidance as needed.
Coaching & Mentorship
1. What is the role of the Life-Path Coach throughout Discover Year?
Our Life-Path Coaches work with our students every month throughout the year to help them better understand their interests, values, and talents and how they can make use of them in their lives and future careers. They help students with goal-setting, mentor them on how to tackle new challenges, and ultimately help support their personal and professional growth.
It is important to note, however, the difference between a coach and a counsellor or therapist. While our coaches are committed to helping students better understand themselves and achieve their goals (which may, at times, require difficult or sensitive conversations), they do not deliver therapeutic care.
2. How are students matched with their coach?
At the beginning of their Discover Year, students complete a series of questionnaires about their interests and goals, communication style, career aspirations, hobbies, and more. Then, Discover Year staff match each student with one of our coaches based on these and other factors.
3. How often will students meet with their coach?
While frequency of meetings between students and coaches varies depending on the student’s preferences, most meet with their coaches twice per month: once half-way through the month for a 30-minute ‘check-in,’ and once at the end of the month for an hour-long coaching session.
Community Service Project
1. What is the community service project?
Working in teams, students carry out two community service projects during their Discover Year—one during each of the two Work-Integrated Learning periods (September to January, and March to June). The projects are based on the team members’ mutual interests and are intended to support a cause or organization they care about. They may wish to organize a fundraiser, host a community event, launch an awareness campaign, or take another approach. Students are encouraged to identify a meaningful goal and are given the freedom to use their unique talents and creativity to contribute to their selected cause with purpose.
2. What is the value of the community service project?
This component of the program gives students the opportunity to experience the social and emotional benefits from engaging in a meaningful service project that is founded in generosity and centred around their personal interests and values. It also helps them develop important skills such as teamwork and leadership, organization and time management, interpersonal communication, and more.
3. What type of support will students have?
Discover Year staff support students in their brainstorming and development of the project, as well as through a series of workshops in communication and project management skills, but ultimately it is up to students to decide which issue they want to tackle, what impact they want to create, and how to implement the project.
4. Can students choose to volunteer with an organization instead of carrying out a community service project?
If students are interested in volunteering during their Discover Year, they are certainly welcome to! However, the community service projects are meant to be led, organized and carried out by students themselves and they are a mandatory component of the program.
1. Where is Discover Year located?
Discover Year's headquarters are located in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, with learning “hubs” in Toronto, Ontario and Boston, Massachusetts. We also have an option for students to complete the program entirely remotely, meaning you can live almost anywhere in the world!
2. How do the hubs work? Will students in one hub be able to connect with students in another hub?
Absolutely! Because Discover Year’s programming is 50% online and 50% in-person, ALL students (no matter where they are completing their Discover Year) will connect with one another every second week during the online portions of the program. Then, during the in-person portions, students in each location (Ottawa, Toronto and Boston) will meet up with other students in that city to participate in in-person activities, challenges and team-building events.
3. Can I complete my Discover Year entirely remotely? How will I connect with other students?
Of course! Our program is designed so that students can complete their Discover Year completely remotely, if they wish.* In this case, remote students will join all other Discover Year students during the online portions of the program, and conduct their own exploration in their city/town during the in-person portions. Because our programming is focused on experiential learning, small group discussions, bonding and relationship-building, students completing their Discover Year remotely will still have ample opportunities to connect with other students throughout the year and make new friends and connections.
*Please note that we strongly encourage all students—including those completing the porgram remotely—to travel to Ottawa for the Discover Year orientation week, if feasible. More details can be found in the FAQs below.
4. Can I move to Ottawa, Toronto or Boston for my Discover Year?
Absolutely! If you're interested in pushing yourself outside your comfort zone and moving to Ottawa, Toronto or Boston for your Discover Year, our staff will be happy to support you through this process.* This could include advising you on the type of visa you will need (if applicable), supporting you to find accommodations that suit your budget and needs, and coaching you on how to book your travel.** Students are welcome to move to Ottawa, Toronto or Boston for the entire duration of their Discover Year or just for a portion of it, depending on their situation and goals for the year.
If you have questions or would like to discuss your options, our staff would be happy to help you! If you are interested in moving to Ottawa or Toronto, please book a call with our Program Manager, Julia.
*While we will gladly support students and advise them on how to move to Ottawa/Toronto/Boston, Discover Year is not responsible for acquiring students’ visas, booking students’ travel, or securing students’ accommodations. This will all be the responsibility of the student.
**Please note that the costs associated with moving to Ottawa/Toronto/Boston are not included in the Discover Year tuition and fees.
1. What are the criteria to be admitted to Discover Year?
At Discover Year, we embrace diversity in all its forms and seek to recruit participants of varied ages, perspectives, backgrounds and nationalities. While we take an inclusive approach to admissions, it is vital that students be open-minded and fully committed to the process of self-development and collaboration. With that said, the basic criteria for admission are:
• A high school graduate (as of July 2023) • Between 17-21 years old (as of December 31, 2023) • Motivated to discover their true interests, values and talents
We also look for students who possess specific qualities and traits, including curiosity, openness to new experiences, integrity, a positive attitude and a team-player. More information can be found on our Admissions page.
2. How do I apply to Discover Year?
You can apply for Discover Year through the Apply page on our website. You will need to submit:
• An application form
• A personal statement
• Two references
Once we receive all of these documents from you, our Selection Committee will carefully review and evaluate your application. If you meet all criteria for admission and possess the qualities and traits we are looking for, you will be invited to participate in a brief interview with our Selection Committee.
3.Do my grades matter when I'm applying to Discover Year?
Not at all! At Discover Year, we believe that your potential for growth and success is not based on the grades you received in high school. While we do require all students to have successfully graduated from high school before they start their Discover Year, your admission to the program will not be evaluated based on your grades.
Tuition & Financial Aid
1. How much does Discover Year cost? Is it in Canadian or American dollars?
The 2023-24 Discover Year tuition is $8,900 CDN for Canadian and non-American international students. Tuition for American students is $8,900 USD.
2. Is financial aid available?
To make our program accessible to as many students as possible, a limited number of Discover Year bursaries are available to Canadian citizens. To learn more, visit our Financial Aid page. We also offer the Discover Year Internships Program, which is designed to offer meaningful work opportunities to our students. Up to five $1,000 internships are available each year.
Please note that financial aid is prioritized for Canadian citizens, but scholarships are available to American and overseas students on a case-by-case basis. All students are also eligible to apply for the Discover Year Internships Program, regardless of nationality. Once you have been accepted into the program, we would be happy to discuss payment options with you.
3. Can tuition fees be claimed as tax credits in Canada?
Yes! Discover Year is an accredited Canadian post-secondary program. Therefore, tuition fees are RESP-eligible and can be claimed as a tuition tax credit (for Canadian citizens)..
4. Can I use RESPs to pay for my tuition?
Yes! The entire Discover Year tuition is eligible for RESP use (in Canada).
1. What and when is the orientation period?
Before the launch of the weekly Wednesday Discover Year programming, we offer an in-person orientation week in Ottawa in September for ALL Discover Year students, no matter where you are living. Throughout the orientation week, students participate in fun and engaging activities such as social and cultural events, team-building activities, life and career skills workshops, and more. This gives our students the opportunity to bond with eac other and build meaningful connections that set them up for even greater success throughout their Discover Year.
2. What if I don’t live in Ottawa?
We strongly encourage all students to travel to Ottawa for the orientation week, if feasible. We offer shared accommodations for out-of-town students during the orientation week.
1. I'm living outside of Canada and the United States, but I would like to take a Discover Year. What are my options?
We’re thrilled that you’re considering taking a Discover Year! For more information that is specific to overseas students (tuition, visa applications, working in Canada, accommodation, etc.), please visit our Overseas Students page.