Youth International is unique in offering college credit courses that are custom-made to enhance our experiential learning programs. All Youth International participants are eligible to take these courses and earn college credit through our partnership with Western Colorado University. When enrolled in any college credit course, participants have the option to pay for their entire Youth International program fee with 529 funds or an AmeriCorps Education Award.

How It Works

Western Colorado University and Youth International have partnered to offer college credit to Youth International participants. Western Colorado University is a four-year liberal arts and sciences university located in Gunnison, Colorado. Credit is awarded upon successful completion of the Youth International program and Western’s academic requirements.

All experiential activities involved in the credit courses are already included in the Youth International program. Students enrolled for course credit will complete additional reading assignments and written work that are specifically designed to enhance the Youth International gap year program.

Current Course Offerings

Ecuador Program: ANTH 297: The Ecuadorian Amazon (3 credits)

In this intensive introduction to the Ecuadorian Amazon, students learn first-hand about the culture, mythology, and world view of its native Quichua people and their struggle to preserve traditional ways of life in a modern world.  They also learn about the complex ecology of the region and current threats to its biodiversity.  The course includes two on-site field study components in the Ecuadorian Amazon, which are complimented by assigned readings.  The first field study is spent in a Quichua village on the edge of the rainforest in Ecuador, living with host families and running educational activities for the village children. The second field study is spent volunteering and living at the nearby a rainforest reserve dedicated to preserving rainforest biodiversity and improving the health and well-being of the Quichua.

Nepal Program: ROE 189: Principles of Outdoor Recreation (3 credits)

This course is designed to create an outdoor education foundation and to enhance the knowledge of and appreciation for the natural and cultural environments of Nepal so that safe, responsible, and enjoyable team expeditions are possible. Students undertake a 9-day trek at high elevation in the Himalayas and they receive instruction in the skills and safety procedures necessary for a white-water rafting excursion. Students also explore the characteristics of wilderness and backcountry environments in terms of potential hazards and human capability for adverse impact on resource lands. In addition, the course requires basic training in First Aid and CPR and provides comprehensive training in safe and healthy international travel practices.

Kenya Program: ANTH 297: Being Maasai (3 credits)

The Kenya program includes home stays in two Maasai villages as well as a safari exploring Maasai Mara National Park. During the homestays, students live with families and take part in daily activities such as cooking, gathering firewood, and tending cattle. They also run educational programs in the local schools and volunteer on community-driven construction projects. These first-hand personal experiences combined with the reading and analysis of a Maasai biography lead to an appreciation of the lifestyle, traditions, and culture of the Maasai people, and their struggle to preserve traditional ways of life in a modern world.

India Program: PHIL 297: Practices of Tibetan Buddhism (3 credits)

Students are introduced to the foundation practices of Tibetan Buddhism through a book written by Tibetan meditation master Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, which blends personal testimonies with detailed instructions on foundational teachings. Students are introduced to key concepts and instructed in how to begin meditation practice through a series of exercises in the book.  The course culminates with a silent meditation retreat at a Tibetan Buddhist meditation center in Dharamsala.  Throughout the Youth International program, students also have many occasions to visit Buddhist temples and monasteries, and to observe religious practices.

Assessments and Grades

Alexandra Retzleff (PhD) is the curriculum designer for Youth International credit courses available through the partnership with Western Colorado University. She is the course instructor for the Philosophy, History, and Anthropology courses. Recreation & Outdoor Education courses are graded by a faculty member in the Recreation, Exercise & Sport Science Department (RESS) at the university.

The coursework and final paper are due to the instructor within two weeks of the completion of the Youth International program. Students are graded on an A, B, C, D, F basis. The course instructor will issue the grade and send it, along with a copy of the final paper, to Western Colorado University. Once a grade is available, the Extended Studies Office at Western Colorado University will notify the student by email. Transcripts may be ordered through the university.

Course Registration & Fees

You must be accepted to a specific Youth International program before submitting registration forms to Western Colorado University. If you are interested in registering for a college credit course, please contact Youth International to request a Course Credit Registration Packet.

The tuition charged by the university is $165.00 per credit. All courses offered in partnership with Youth International are 3 credits (total= $495/course). Tuition is processed separately from Youth International’s program fee, and must be sent directly to the university along with the other documents contained in the Course Credit Registration Packet.

The Course Credit Registration Packet and the payment must be received by Western Colorado University at least two weeks prior to the first day of the Youth International program. Registrations received less than five business days before the first day of the Youth International program are not guaranteed to be processed by the university.

Course enrollment that involves payment with AmeriCorps or 529 plan funding must be submitted no later than 60 days before the Youth International payment deadline. The course registration packet contains detailed information on how these payments are handled.  Please do not initiate these payments until after you have registered with the university and have been instructed by them to send payment.

Credit Transfer to Other Schools

Students wishing to transfer credit from Western Colorado University to another institution should contact their academic adviser or registrar concerning how these credits may be applied to their course of study. It is the student’s responsibility to arrange for any credit transfer. Youth International and Western Colorado University do not guarantee the transfer or substitution of credit. Ultimately, decisions regarding the transfer of credit are up to the discretion of the other institution.