Jack - Gap Year ~ parent comment
Our son is a very bright and inquisitive young man but his dual learning disabilities of dyslexia and dysgraphia, plus a healthy dose of ADHD have not made it easy. School has always been a struggle and not because of the academic challenges but due to the pressure on kids with learning issues to stay on top of assignments as if nothing were wrong. Yet even with his school struggles, our son was accepted by a few excellent universities and when he wanted to go right after high school, we fully supported him. After a pretty disastrous first semester, we also fully supported his decision to leave school and take some time off. Fortunately, we were referred to Jake Horne, to guide our son, and us, through the gap year journey.
When he first came home in February of 2022 our son was withdrawn and depressed. He rarely left his room or engaged with anyone. This went on for about 6 weeks. As he began to meet with Jake, we saw light at the end of the tunnel. Within a month he had a temporary job as a line cook in a restaurant and by the end of the summer, he and Jake had worked out a plan for the Fall and beyond. First, he would attend a 15-week culinary certification program in Boston and then he would go abroad as part of a gap year semester Leadership program. And through it all, Jake and our son stay in touch and work together on making the most of the gap year experience.
They say it takes a village to raise a child. Jake is definitely an important part of our village. There is no question that without Jake, our son would not be where he is today and we could not be more grateful to have found Jake. We are firm believers in the gap year experience especially if it is managed by a compassionate professional such as Jake Horne.
Mackenzie - Mt Holyoke ~ parent comment
College Transition and Career Plannning
My daughter and I have known Mr. Horne in many different capacities over the course of the last nearly
10 years, as an Academic Dean, teacher and college counselor and in his current capacity as principal of
The Student Compass, but always as a mentor and friend for both of us. He has played a very big part in
my daughter's success thus far, as a college graduate of a distinguished college with a very good grade
average, looking to fine tune her liberal arts education into a practical but passionate career interest that
suits her skills and abilities. When we first met Mr. Horne, my daughter was recently diagnosed with learning
differences and was unsure of her future and how she was going to get there. He played a very big role
in helping her to develop confidence and self esteem. Most importantly, he was the first person to see
her true potential beyond the learning differences and to this day, will not accept less than he feels that
she is capable of, while providing her with the tools and motivation to get there on her own.
I enthusiastically recommend Mr. Horne to students and parents alike ! In my experience, his knowledge,
compassion and devotion to students and learning is unsurpassed and makes a very big difference!
By Karen R. Pittsburgh PA.
Rene – Suffolk University ~parent comment~
College Planning and Applications/Transition
The entire college application and acceptance process can be a bit overwhelming, for the student as well as
the family! Jake Horne of the Student Compass provided my son a very important and complimentary
support system to the School college counseling office throughout the entire process.
We started with Jake during my son’s junior year. A focus on thinking through goals, character, skills and
preferences, served to increase his self-awareness. It also helped him focus on the types of colleges and
Universities he would thrive in. Helping organize his thoughts, practice interviews, think through college
essay themes, testing views, and the myriad of other exercises and processes Jake focused on helped my
son mature and be mentally more prepared for the challenges he faced and the decisions he needed to
make. Jake was also instrumental in counseling my son through how to plan his important summer between
junior and senior year. Jake’s vast experience and expertise with students of all types, skills and personalities,
as well as his knowledge of the “Learning Business” is impressive.
After my son received the great news of acceptance into the school of his choice, Jake immediately focused
on ‘What’s next” with him. I am confident my son will do great, and am thrilled that Jake will continue to work
with him throughout this summer and freshman year to support the transition process into college. Coming
from a boarding school environment, as my son has, where students are nurtured, we sometimes
underestimate the impact of a totally different experience on the student and his/her “compass”.
I highly recommend The Student Compass and Jake Horne to all parents focused on providing their son or
daughter the best counsel and advice possible. It’s all about our kids, their self-confidence and their
focus on a successful college experience . This can only come with planning, counsel and design.
Jake was instrumental in providing the framework and importantly, providing it beyond the acceptance process.”
By Beatriz S. – Geneva, Switzerland & Miami, Florida
Christian – Lynn University ~parent comment~
Gap Year, College Planning and Applications/Transition (2012-2020)
After Jake Horne acted as our son Christian’s gap year advisor, it was a natural decision to ask him
to continue the relationship by coaching our son through the transition to his freshman college year, and,
we hope, beyond. (Christian has continued through 2020)
Jake had gotten to know our son in school, had given him college guidance, and had easily established an
effective rapport with him, and with us. That has been a key to the good results we have seen.
Since they are far apart Jake and our son went from the original personal meetings to Skyping regularly
over the past year, and Jake also consults with us. But the essential relationship is between the two of
them. Christian speaks freely and frequently with ‘Mr Horne,’ respects him and gives great weight to
Jake’s advice, in part because he feels that it is their relationship that frames the decisions that need to be
made. He is in charge rather than us as his parents.
At Jake’s suggestion, our son kept a private blog during his gap year, which helped hone skills of thinking,
writing and self-expression while he was out of school. We can see great strides in these essential areas.
Our son, especially through the gap year experience, has gained greater maturity, responsibility, and
independence. The year was challenging, by design, and the different elements Jake helped Christian
decide upon were a good match. As parents, we no inkling of the wide range of possible activities that
Jake had in mind.
From his extensive experience, Jake is up to date on contemporary high school and college life, the
institutions themselves, and the pressures that today’s generation feel. Jake’s advice on the college
transition has been very helpful; he brings up topics that were not on our radar, and engaged our
son in thinking and planning about what he was going to find in college, and how he should approach it.
We are also glad that Jake follows up on unfinished or continuing tasks and goals, rather than just
The advice is not just academic, but sensitive to social issues in school and to setting goals for school
that lead to a productive life after school. Jake Horne has been generous with his time and his interest
in our son’s success unflagging.
We can give an enthusiastic recommendation of Jake Horne and the services he offers through the
Student Compass to young people, and to their parents. He makes the goal of student success a team
effort, one we all are very happy to work together to achieve.
By Mary V. and Fred F. – Tucson, AZ
Chris – Occidental College ~parent comment~ (2014-2019)
Gap Year, College Planning and Applications/Transition
Jake Horne has been working with my 17 year-old son Christopher on fashioning a meaningful gap year experience and on preparing him for a successful entry into college next academic year. I can’t speak highly enough of the help and guidance that Jake has provided to my son, and to my wife and me as well. And I can’t speak highly enough of the program he has developed, The Student Compass— a most unique program— to mentor a truly lost generation of students as they come to terms with themselves, college, and the work world in our complex society.
Jake has provided us with much help and guidance on so many fronts. First, Jake became a mentor to my son. He quickly gained his trust and helped him to think through what he truly needed at this juncture in his life to feel confident about himself and to function successfully at college and beyond. Then, Jake worked collaboratively with Christopher to fashion a gap year that will not only fit some of his interests but also will be a growth-promoting, confidence-building, challenging and transformative one. Jake scaffolds several gap experiences from more structured and overtly confidence-building to more independent, where students learn to become self-sufficient and responsible, all the while keeping in contact with them, wherever they are in the world, and providing encouragement and support.
Third, Jake has worked wonderfully with my wife and me to “keep us in the loop” while he works independently with our son— a balance that makes us feel like we are part of the process while Christopher knows that his gap year is truly of his own creation. Jake also initially consulted with Christopher’s school and evaluated him thoughtfully at the outset of our work together to get a genuine “take” on who he is and what would be most growth-promoting for him. I really believe that he understands our son (and us) extremely well.
I should add here that Christopher, two weeks into his first gap year program (carefully chosen by Jake), has already posted a reflection on the organization’s website saying, “I have experienced so much and felt such a strong, reassuring internal growth,” and later, “I am exhilarated to take [the next 11 weeks] step by step with such amazing people. I cannot wait to relay more of our adventures in the weeks ahead!” This is music to a parent’s ears, all thanks to Jake’s work and careful selection of a gap year experience.
I myself am a clinical psychologist. I consult to a boarding school in Connecticut and a private school in Manhattan, and my private practice consists of many teenagers and young adults. Significantly more now than when I started practicing 25 years ago, I meet with young adults of all different intellectual capacities and emotional make-ups who are lost and directionless, and therefore often highly anxious and/or depressed. Some are struggling to make it through high school, some are currently attending college (two at Harvard and one at Princeton currently, among others) and some recently have graduated from college (Brown, Clark, Reed, and yet another from Wesleyan). I mention these prestigious institutions only to highlight that these students “went through the motions” and successfully got admitted to the colleges “of their dreams,” but they all feel unhappy, unfulfilled and like “they don’t fit in.” It’s become increasingly clear to me that they played the college admissions game well and successfully, but they left out some ingredients when selecting a college— an understanding of who they truly are, what’s truly meaningful to them in life, and what would be a truly satisfying and important academic experience for them (and one that might help them to enter the post-college world with purpose and success). As a result, they all feel empty and lost.
I strongly believe that The Student Compass is not only a great idea, but is increasingly becoming a necessity in a society whose parents, educators and the educational system itself are raising lost generations of young adults. The Compass should be a part of every school’s offerings to its high school students, I believe, as they struggle to become self-reliant and independent, to understand a complex world, to discover who they are and what is meaningful to them, and then to enter the world successfully. They need a mentor, and Jake Horne and his program are it!
By Jonathan S., Ph.D. – NY, NY
Vince – Dickinson College student comment (2013-2020)
College & Career Transition
It seems like we’ve always been close, I got to know Jake Horne during my sophomore year at prep
school. There I quickly learned I had come across a truly amazing individual and I began to confide
in him. I spoke with him about a variety of issues ranging from relationship problems, to my college
essay. Luckily, he’s well versed in both. Jake gave me girl advice when needed and understood my
emotions well enough to give me answers and guide me. As for the college essay, I must have sent
him five different drafts at the least and he promptly returned every one to me with corrections. He
has great insight when it comes to education because he’s been there before.
Jake is an amazing mentor who is always willing to provide guidance where it is needed. I’ve certainly
been lost in the game of life more than a few times and he has helped me find the right path to take.
Not only has he helped me make choices in college, but he originally helped me to choose what college
wanted to attend. Jake has certainly mastered the fields he works in such as college counseling, career
mentoring, and life planning. The two of us Skype every couple of weeks to check in with each other.
Sometimes our conversations are more serious than others.
It has been somewhat confusing for me to set a career path for myself. I sometime think I should be
pursuing a particular career path but then I find that it just doesn’t feel right. Jake has helped me sort
through my decision-making. I have developed a great interest in being an entrepreneur. Recently, Jake
has been helping me make decisions for a clothing brand I just started. Jake has helped to guide me in
balancing school work, focusing on courses that add knowledge to my interests, striving to acquire practical
experience and always encourages me to stay organized and to network with people in and outside of
Jake has been a really good person for me as a mentor. He hasn’t made me feel judged, but encourages
me to look at myself from different perspectives and make decisions that I have to live with. I have learned
a lot about who I am and helped me feel more confident about what I can do and how to be a risk-taker
with my dreams and goals. I have learned a lot about myself and hope Jake will be there for me for years
By Vincent P. – Bronxville, NY
Ashley – University of Vermont `grandparent comment~ (2016-2018)
Jake's work with our granddaughter, Ashley Miles, was outstanding. His personal relationship with Ashley
grew over her Gap year in which she participated in 4 different and challenging international programs.
He had excellent rapport with her and orchestrated a thrilling year for her before college. As grandparents,
Jake gave us great support when problems arose. Jake immediately got involved and found solutions.....even
on a Sunday!
We failed to take into consideration all the extraneous expenses that Ashley incurred, but that was not
Jake's problem. We are so very grateful to Jake for his wise counsel and following Ashley's progress and
keeping in touch with both Ashley and us throughout the year. She says it was "the BEST year of her life".
By Carol and Robert S. – Lake Placid NY.
Joseph – University of Florida 2019 ~ parent comment~ (2014-2016)
College Planning, Application/Transition
I highly recommend Jake Horne of The Student Compass. My son, Joe, started working with Jake his Junior
year while attending Litchfield High School. The Student Compass mentoring experience has organized
my son, given him independence and the ability to choose a college that is appropriate for him. The
college mentoring program helps reduce the stress of the college application process and allows the
student and parents to enjoy the senior year and beyond with their child. Joe will be attending the
University of Florida (Joe's first choice of schools) this fall. It is the best investment that you can make
for your child.
By Robert D’A. – Litchfield, CT
Ashley –University of Vermont 2019 student comment (2014-2016)
Jake Horne helped me with every step of the planning process leading up to and over the course of my
gap year between high school and college. Without him I wouldn't have had nearly the same level of
success and preparedness with my travels had I not had his help. He even drove to meet me for the
first time when I was still in boarding school to begin to discuss our work together as well as possible
places/thing I might be interested in going/doing/seeing when on my gap year.
Jake was very attentive to all of my (sometimes crazy) questions and was always very flexible with
scheduling our typically once a week Skype calls. Even after most of the planning had been completed
for one stage of my year Jake continued to be an invaluable asset to both me and my family in helping
us keep in touch as well as prepare me for the next stage(s) of my journey. He had the connections
and knowledge to take my goals, thoughts, and ramblings and was able to then give me a list of
organizations/places I could go where my needs would be met and I'd learn new things, explore a new
place, and have fun. I had one of the BEST years of my life and I wouldn't have had I not had the help
of Jake. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you! Not one complaint.
By Ashley - Vero Beach Florida
Chris - Occidental College student comment (2014-2019)
College Planning, Application/Transition
I first met with Jake Horne two years ago. I was about to graduate high school, and was very unsure of
my footing in the world now that I was stepping away from my small, close-minded high school and town.
To say the least, I felt unfulfilled and in need of an adventure. Jake helped me plan out and execute an
incredibly successful gap year; a gap year in which I found myself backpacking along the Mekong River
through the eclectic countries China, Laos, and Cambodia, backpacking and WWOOFing all throughout
the North and South islands of New Zealand, and working an internship with an NGO in New York City.
In Southeast Asia, I lived with families in each country, harvested rice, went on an excursion through the
Laos’ jungle, saw Angkor Wat at dawn, and learned alongside Buddhist monks. In New Zealand, I hiked
Mount Doom from Lord of the Rings, worked at a white water rafting lodge, herded sheep, worked on
a vineyard, and found independence. In my internship, I helped run galas and raise money for children’s
hospitals being built in Southeast Asia. I made amazing lifelong friends from all over the world.
I grew mentally and physically healthier and established a healthy, happy lifestyle. I found passion in
culture. I grew as an individual and established a strong sense of self-identity. Most importantly, I started
dreaming again and believing in myself.
All of this was made possible because I worked with Jake and the Student Compass. He has always been
incredibly dedicated, has always believed in me, and has always genuinely cared for me. He is my mentor,
my confidant, and my role model. I am so incredibly lucky and humbled to have been able to work with the
Student Compass, and to still have Jake in my life today. With his and the Student Compasses’ help, I
experienced and appreciated the most incredible, diverse, crazy and inspiring year of my life.
By Chris - Litchfield, CT
former Superintendent Scarsdale Schools
I've known Jake Horne for over a decade as an educator and friend. During that time, I've observed him
in his professional contacts with young people, where he is warm, caring and thoughtful. He asks smart
questions, provides them with good counsel and asks them to rise to their best. For Jake, working with
students is both a serious responsibility and a pleasure. They develop relationships that last well after
the end of their formal interactions. Parents I know speak highly of their children's experience with him.
By Michael McGill
Director, Program for District Leadership and Reform
Bank Street College of Education New York City
Jonathan - Columbia University student comment (2016-2018)
College Planning, Application/Transition
Jake and I have been working together for over a year, and it has been an absolutely
amazing experience. Jake helped me in preparing for the Toefl IBT exam and in
writing my college application essay, while also assisting me in improving my
speaking and writing skills. After spending so much time of intensive work with
Jake, I can whole-heartedly say that he does a lot more than just teach. He gives his heart and soul to his students, by mentoring and leading them towards achieving their goals. Thanks to Jake's teaching and mentoring, I got accepted to Columbia University and am now pursuing an undergraduate degree in Economics. What at first seemed impossible, soon became very possible with Jake's guidance, and I would definitely recommend working with him, to anyone who is serious about succeeding in the American academic system.
By Jonathan - Ra'anana, Israel
Alex - Brevard College (2013-2016)
Gap Year, College Planning, Application/Transition
I have worked with Jake since the beginning of 2014. I was in the middle of a gap year and was looking to burst my bubble. He helped me plan the besthree months of my life in Costa Rica! There, I attended a language school, volunteered at a nature preserve, lived with a host family, and then hostelled around all over the country! Jake has helped me find colleges and summer employment. We have also discussed potential college majors. Jake is knowledgeable and his advice has helped me find my way.• • •
By Alex L. - Washington, Ct
(I have also been working with Alex since his Gap Year, through his summer before matriculating at his college and as he transitioned into this past academic year, adjusting to the complexity of a new environment with the many academic and social demands that he needed to manage. Alex is considering transferring to another college which offers a major closer to that which his present college offers and so he and I are sorting through the issues of transferring or not and selecting colleges that would best fit his plans.) * note from JAH