Alternative Breaks Frequently Asked Questions


What is an Alternative Break?

An alternative break is a short-term student-led service experience that immerses students into a domestic or international community to make a positive impact. All programs are drug and alcohol free, allowing participants to focus on each other and the community in which we are working alongside.

Who coordinates Alternative Breaks?

Elon’s Alternative Break Program is student-led and driven.  Two student coordinators lead each alternative break program.  They receive support and training from student alternative break directors and a staff advisor, who together guide the long-term vision of the program.

What do you do on an Alternative Break?

Alternative breaks involve direct service, indirect service, education on social issues, critical reflection, community building opportunities with other Elon students, and time to explore the community you visit through fun activities.

Why should I sign-up?

Alternative break programs provide an opportunity for direct impact through transformative service experiences that are designed to support the needs of our community partners.  Our programs provide the opportunity to grow in your own leadership abilities, reflect on your values, and build long-lasting friendship with fellow Elon students who are passionate about service.

How do I sign-up?

If you are interested in participating, complete a short application, which is located on the Elon Volunteers! page on Phoenix Connect and linked through our webpage.  Applications for fall break open typically open during the first week of classes, and for spring break in mid-October.

For fall break and one day experiences: student coordinators typically review written applications and they are accepted on a first-come first-served basis.

For spring break: after applying, applicants are contacted by to setup short interviews with alternative break coordinators.  Following the interview process, if you are selected to participate, student coordinators reach out to offer you a spot in their program.  The application process is typically competitive, so we cannot offer everyone a spot who applies unfortunately.  If you are not selected for a spot, the alternative break director will notify you via email shortly after the interview process concludes.

I was selected, now what?

Congrats!  If you are selected and choose to accept our offer to participate in an Alternative Break, your student coordinator will be in touch with more information.  We ask our fall and one day student coordinators to schedule 1-2 pre-program meetings and our spring coordinators to schedule 3-4 meetings. During these meetings, you will get to know other members in your group.  Information is also shared about program logistics and discussion is facilitated about your social justice issue as well.

Following your return to campus, coordinators schedule a re-orientation meeting to allow your group to process their experiences and discuss ideas for how to continue to make an impact back at Elon and in our local community.

How many people can go?

We look to fill our programs but keep them intentionally small so we do not overwhelm our community partners and give space for everyone attending to get to know each other.  The max size is 14, which includes 2 student coordinators, 2 learning partners (staff/faculty members), and 10 student participants.

How much does it cost?

It depends where you go.  Click on individuals programs on our webpage to find out the cost for programs you are interested in applying to attend. Your fee covers our costs for lodging, food, transportation, activities, and supplies.  The only additional funds you will need to bring is for souvenirs.

Fall break and one day experiences fees are typically made in one payment because they cost less.  For spring break, the cost is higher and there are multiple payment deadlines to help spread out costs.  We accept credit card (via our PayPal account), checks, and cash as form of payments.

Are scholarships available?

Need-based scholarships are available but not guaranteed.  If you want to apply for a scholarship, you can note that on our online application and will be asked to respond to a few additional questions in order to be considered.  Typically, for students granted scholarships funds we are able to cover no more than 50% of the overall participant fee.

What programs are offered?

We typically try to work with many of the same organizations each year to maintain sustainable partnerships, but occasionally we are able to add new programs based on student interest. To view this year’s programs, visit the Alternative Break webpage.

How do we get there?

Transportation is provided by either by van (domestic programs) or plane (international programs).  If you are flying, we will gather necessary information and utilize a travel agent to book your travel for you to ensure our groups travel together and get the best price possible for flights.

What will we eat and where will we sleep?

It depends on the program, but typically our alternative break groups stay at retreat centers, churches, or other similar facilities to reduce program costs.  Some of our lodging facilities provide food, and others will have a kitchen and group members will take turns cooking.

Why are Alternative Breaks alcohol free?

Alternative Service Breaks were founded as an alternative to the typical spring break experience.  Alcohol affects the ability to be fully engaged in the experience, group dynamics, participant safety, the local community, the university, and the national alternative service break student movement.  It is not a judgement call on the use of alcohol, but more of a realization that there is much work to be done in the world around us to help tackle many of our social justice issues.

If I signed-up but can no longer attend, can I get a refund?

Many of the costs for an alternative break (travel, lodging, program fees, etc.) are paid months in advance.  For this reason, if you already committed to attend and can longer participate, we are not able to offer you a refund.

Can I be a student coordinator?

Yes! Student leaders drive Alternative Breaks. Each program is coordinated by 2 student leaders, and supported by a student director team who have previously been involved in Alternative Breaks.  Applications for coordinator and director positions open during the spring semester.  Spring coordinator positions start the following fall semester and run for one academic year.  We prefer coordinators who have previously participated in an alternative break to apply, but as long as you have relevant translatable experiences from other leadership roles, we welcome your application.