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Due to COVID-19, all Alternative Break trips will be canceled until further notice

We are very pleased that you are interested in the Alternative Break Program. Please review these FAQs to learn more about the program, and participant expectations and responsibilities. For more information or to speak to someone about the program, please contact the Civic and Community Engagement Center located in SC-213 at (201)-684-7586 or by e-mail

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is an Alternative Break?

    During alternative break trips, teams of college students engage in community service typically focused on a particular social issue such such as poverty, education reform or conservation. Some alternative break trips explore other ways, such as role plays and simulations or think tanks, to work towards the common good. Trips are usually about one week in duration. Along with performing service, the groups also learn about the culture, customs and socio-economic conditions of the place—be it a destination abroad or here in the U.S.—where they are volunteering. Last, but definitely not least, participation in alternative breaks contributes to self-discovery, self-growth, and working as a part of a team towards a common goal.

  2. Why are trips alcohol and substance free?

    One reason Alternative breaks were founded was to counter the excesses of “traditional” college spring breaks. Beyond this, alcohol and other substance free environments promote safety, health and wellness and offer participants more authentic opportunities for team-building and service to others.

  3. How do I apply for an alternative break trip?

    The application for all the trips run by the Civic and Community Engagement Center will be available on Archway.

  4. How does the selection process work?

    There will be a selection committee for each trip composed of students, faculty and/or staff who will review the applications and make selection recommendations to the Director of the Center for Student Involvement, the Assistant Director for Civic Engagement and the Graduate Assistant for Civic Engagement.

  5. When will I be notified if I am selected?

    Applicants selected to become an alternative break participant will be notified before the end of each fall semester.

  6. How many alternative spring break trips are offered and to what destinations?

    Five (5) trips were offered in March 2012. The destinations were Quito, Ecuador; Aranjuez, Costa Rica; Asheville, North Carolina; Perryville, Arkansas and Rutland, Massachusetts. Six (6) trips were offered in March 2013. The destinations were Cabarete, Dominican Republic; Aranjuez, Costa Rica; Asheville, North Carolina; Perryville, Arkansas, Rutland, Massachusetts and New Orleans, Louisiana.  Seven (7) trips will be offered in March 2014. The destinations are Cabarete, Dominican Republic; Aranjuez, Costa Rica; Asheville, North Carolina; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Staten Island, New York; Rutland, Massachusetts and New Orleans, Louisiana.  A number of trips will be offered in March 2018. The destinations are Aranjuez, Costa Rica; Asheville, North Carolina; Rutland, Massachusetts; Westchester, New York; and possibly one or two others.

  7. Are all the trips open to all students?

    The Massachusetts trip to the Heifer Overlook Farm are reserved for first-year students only. The trip to Costa Rica is open to only sophomores, juniors and seniors. The Asheville, North Carolina trip to is open to all and the Westchester, New York trip is open to all commuter students.

  8. Are there trip leaders? How are they selected?

    Each alternative break trip has at least one student leader and one faculty or staff leader. Those interested in serving in this capacity should contact the Civic and Community Engagement Center for more information. Trip leaders are selected to based on prior experience with alternative break trips or similar travel experiences, overall leadership qualities and abilities, and commitment to work that furthers the common good.

  9. How much do the trips cost?

    Each trip will have its own cost. Fees are determined based on transportation, lodging, meals, program and other costs. The Center for Student Involvement subsidizes a percentage of the total cost of each trip.

  10. What about fundraising?

    Each trip is encouraged to do fundraising for their respective group. It is also recommended that students fund raise individually to help with cost. The Civic and Community Engagement Center also organizes general fundraising for the program.

  11. Will I receive a refund if I pay for a trip and then can’t go?

    Refunds are only issued in rare instances. You must request a refund in writing. For international trips and other trips involving air travel, no refunds will be issued once your plane ticket has been generated. All participants will be provided with a copy of the Refund Policy.

  12. Will I need a passport for the international trips?

    YES!!! You will need a valid passport to travel internationally. To be considered for either international trip, you must submit a copy of your valid passport to the Civic and Community Engagement Center at same time as you submit your application on Org Sync.

  13. Are there health and safety issues to keep in mind?

    YES!!! You are the primary guardian of your own health and safety. It is important to remember this. It is also important to remember that you will be traveling with a group. Group members look out for each other and help each other to stay safe and healthy. You will be given a liability waiver and medical information form so that trip leaders can be aware of any health conditions or medical concerns. When traveling to unfamiliar destinations it is crucial to observe the highest safety practices. Always travel with the whole group or at least in pairs. Be certain that someone knows where you are at all times. Observe all the health and safety regulations of the host site. Never take unnecessary risks with your own safety or the safety of others. International health insurance is included in the total cost for International Trips.

  14. Once I have been selected for a trip, what are my responsibilities?

    Each trip will hold at least three (3) pre-trip solidarity meetings. You are responsible for attending each pre-trip meeting. These meetings will cover health and safety, itinerary, work projects, team-building exercises, fundraising and so on. It is critical that you make yourself available for these meetings in order for the group to make the most of their experience. Once you have returned from your alternative break trip, you will be responsible for attending at least one (1) post-trip solidarity meeting and for attending, if at all possible, the celebratory luncheon or reception that usually takes place in April.

  15. How do I get more information?

    Visit the CCEC Org Sync page on line and the Civic and Community Engagement Center in room SC213 to stay up to date. Applications should become available each October for March trips.

Additional trips will be posted once they are finalized.

For more information or to speak to someone about the program, please contact the Civic and Community Engagement Center located in SC-213 at (201)-684-7586 or by e-mail