Warriors at heart. Your campus experience may only last a few years, but your connection to Southern Wesleyan can last a lifetime. Stay connected to SWU through events, publications, and social media.

The faith-filled community at SWU is comprised of students, faculty and staff who are passionate about learning and growing, both inside and outside of the classroom.

OneLife Christian Gap Year Program

OneLife is a Christian gap year program for students who want to grow in their faith, experience genuine community, serve others, and travel while earning college credits.



Providing growth in faith, leadership & life skills

Jadin Beek - Former OneLife Student


While your friends may take the traditional college path, you imagine something different. 

Opportunities to lead, to inspire, to be challenged, to visit new places and experience a new way of learning, to share your faith, and to become a stronger and more well-rounded person.

Become a part of the OneLife Institute, a Christian gap year program that is a different type of educational experience. Students like you can earn 30 college credits while stepping outside of the classroom and into a 9-month experience that is invaluable and effective, starting you off on the right path.

OneLife is a step between home & independence, preparing young adults to make a difference wherever their path may lead.

OneLife Institute Christian Gap Year Program



Interested to Learn More?

Visit Campus

Sign up for OneLife Open House events at SWU. You’ll have the opportunity to meet some of the OneLife staff and students, tour campus, and gain valuable information regarding academics, spiritual life, and more.

Sign up for an Open House

Discover OneLife SWU

Interested in learning more about SWU's campus? Sign up for Discover SWU, our personal visit option to learn more about what our campus has to offer.

Discover SWU



Ready to Apply?

Does this sound like the place for you? The process begins with your online application. Let us guide you through the admissions process. Click a link below to start the process!

When applying, select "Undergraduate" and then "OneLife" within the application to apply for the OneLife program.

Apply Now



Accepted OneLife Students

Congratulations! We are thrilled that you are joining the OneLife and SWU family, and we’re excited to see what God has in store for you. Now that you’re admitted, it’s time to explore your next steps so you’ll be prepared and excited when you join campus this fall.

Let's get started!

OneLife Next Steps


Jianna Wankle

"I did not expect the community to be such a big part. I honestly did not even think about the people. In my head, it was more like, 'I am here for me and my relationship with God.' I did not realize that I become closer to God as I open myself up to a community. God created us to be social beings in His image." — Jianna (Rantoul, Illinois)


Levi Cole

"I have always known that I am not perfect, but the experiences here at OneLife have subtly pointed these weaknesses out—not to criticize but to strengthen and get a better understanding of how I can influence the world around me." — Levi (Dorset, Ohio)


Sarah Harding

"I have grown in the intellectual side of my faith. Learning more about theology and philosophy and scripture have all deepened my faith and widened my base of knowledge. My worldview is both expanding as I learn and refining as I become more and more sure of what I believe." — Sarah (Central, South Carolina)



Your Education

Earn 30 credits for college, while learning, traveling and serving, during our 9-month program. Develop quality, real-world skills that will prove to be valuable throughout your life.


Counter the numbness you may feel with Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter by actually experiencing life, traveling the world with a group of committed peers, and developing genuine life-long friendships.

Life Skills

Learn how to lead a successful life by applying practical life skills including time management, fitness & wellness, and financial stewardship.

Travel & Adventure

Discover who you are called to be while experiencing new places and meeting inspiring people, traveling domestically and internationally. Instead of discussing life in a traditional classroom – you can experience it.

Spiritual Formation

Who are you—really? What are you seeking? Before thinking about where you are going, we invite you to examine who you are becoming in Christ.



OneLife Frequently Asked Questions

What is a “gap year” and why should I take one?

A gap year is defined as taking a “break” from formal education, “typically between high school and college, in order to deepen practical, professional, and personal awareness.”

For Christian students, taking a gap year before going to college creates a remarkable opportunity to think more deeply and intentionally about the person God is calling him or her to be. Many students who struggle in college do so because they are not able to articulate reasons or explain the goals for going to college. College has become the assumed next step after high school, with very little thought about why.

OneLife exists because we believe that taking a gap year forces students out of the routine of “schooling” and into a deeper relationship with God. Students who participate in gap year programs have proven to be far more prepared for the transition to college and adulthood.

What is the main focus (outcomes) of the OneLife gap year program?

OneLife is a nine-month, residential program with three main areas of desired outcomes.

OneLife students:

  1. Form Christian character
  2. Develop a biblical sense of calling
  3. Grow in relational wisdom
What is OneLife looking for in a student?

Here is the OneLife student profile:

  • Post-high-school to 21 years of age
  • Willingness to step outside of their comfort zone to learn
  • Loves travel and adventure
  • Appreciates learning both inside and outside the classroom
  • Desires to learn and grow in Christian faith & biblical knowledge
  • Demonstrates leadership qualities
  • Expresses a desire to be teachable
  • Exhibits moral character and conduct
  • Maintains a positive attitude toward authority
I already did a year (or two) of college. Can I still do OneLife?

YES! Many of our students have completed some college before coming to OneLife. For those students, OneLife can be an opportunity to re-focus, to gain more direction in life and to take a “break” in order to build a stronger relationship with God.

How much does OneLife cost?
Does OneLife offer financial aid?

YES! OneLife students are enrolled as full-time college students and are eligible for government and private scholarships that are awarded based on eligibility requirements. SWU offers in-state (SC) students a $1,000 scholarship and out-of-state students a $2,000 scholarship upon acceptance.

 OneLife students at SWU are also eligible for the SWU Church Matching Scholarship. SWU will match up to $1,000 per year ($500 per semester) of gifts given by a church or church district for the student. Learn more about Church Matching Scholarship here.

To apply for federal financial aid go to studentaid.gov/h/apply-for-aid/fafsa and click “Free Application for Federal Student Aid” (FAFSA). Please add “Southern Wesleyan University” (School code: 003422). For more information on the federal student aid programs including eligibility requirements and federal aid programs please visit www.studentaid.ed.gov.

How do OneLife students earn college credits?

OneLife is fully accredited, both regionally & nationally, due to its partnership with Southern Wesleyan University. OneLife students complete 10, three-credit courses, for 30 credits. Learn more about SWU's accreditation.

What courses do OneLife students take?

OneLife is proud to partner with Southern Wesleyan University to offer the following courses:


  • Foundations for Success
  • Basic Christian Beliefs
  • Spiritual Formation and Discipleship
  • Speech Communication
  • Life Calling


  • Introduction to Intercultural Ministry
  • New Testament Survey 
  • Sex, Courtship, and Marriage
  • Peer Leadership and Team Building
  • Global Internship (outside of USA)
Will my credits transfer to other colleges?

Short answer: YES!
Longer answer: All OneLife students will have an official transcript from Southern Wesleyan University with 30 credits. All credits are transferable. All of the credits, however, may not apply to certain programs at other colleges.

How do I become a OneLife student? What is the admissions process?

Path to enrollment:

  1. Online Application
  2. Have SAT and/or ACT scores sent to SWU
  3. Have High School Transcript (or college transcripts) sent to SWU
  4. Interview with OneLife staff
Where do students travel?

OneLife loves to travel. Our trips allow students to (1) see what God is doing in other parts of His world; (2) connect to the larger body of Christ; (3) develop travel and navigational skills; and (4) engage cultural differences and other worldviews.

Students experience lots of day trips and weekend service opportunities. They also take 5-7 longer trips during the year. Destinations have included:


  • Atlanta, GA
  • Cumberland Island, GA
  • Denver, CO
  • Foothills Trail, SC
  • Nashville, TN
  • Pittsburgh, PA
  • Washington D.C.


  • Israel
OneLife sounds amazing. I’d love to take a “gap year” and travel overseas and have fun, but I’m 55 years old and have a family. Can I still do OneLife?

No. Sorry. (We get this question all the time.)

Is OneLife too good to be true?

No. If you can’t believe that OneLife could possibly be as amazing as it sounds, please contact us or visit us ASAP. We would love the opportunity to show and tell you all about it!



Meet the OneLife Site Director at SWU

Matthew Hunter, Ph.D.

Matt in his own words:

I grew up on a horse farm in upstate New York and I’ve been a Christian for as long as I can remember; although there have been (and continue to be) profound moments of God’s transforming work in my life. I majored in Christian ministries in college and worked in Urban and Suburban Youth and College Ministry for 5 years before I started my PhD in Religious Studies – completed in 2010. I’m married to my best friend Beth and we have two amazing sons (Asher – 13, Zephan – 11).

I love teaching, but more than that, I love connecting with my students about the things that matter. I’ve been teaching college and high school classes since 2008, including: World Religions; Happiness in Christian Tradition and Popular Culture; Intro to Islam; Intro to Judaism; Intro to Media Studies; Intro to Theology; African American Theology; Religious Freedom in the US: A Developing Legacy; Apologetics; Reformation History; Reading the Bible for the First Time; Social Justice Conflict and Peacemaking; U.S. History & Literature.

In my spare time, I like to cook, lift weights, practice kung fu with my kids, go on hikes, read, watch movies, drink coffee and think out loud with anyone who is willing to do that with me. I always need the Holy Spirit. I am committed to the whole body of Christ. I love the Bible (most of the time) and it continually stuns me with God’s wisdom and the magnificent, tragic and hope-filled true-story of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior.



Ph.D. in Religious Studies
Temple University, Philadelphia, PA

Graduate work in MDiv.
Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, South Hamilton, MA

Bachelor of Arts in Christian Ministry
Messiah College, Grantham, PA

Teaching Experience

Humanities Instructor (2012-2017)
Covenant Christian Academy, Harrisburg, PA

Adjunct Professor (2008-2017)
Messiah College, Grantham, PA

Instructor, Graduate Teaching Fellow (2002-2007)
Temple University, Philadelphia, PA

Educational Leadership and Ministry Experience

National and International Service and Learning Director
Agape Center for Service and Learning, Messiah College, Grantham, PA
August 2007 - July 2010

Director of College Ministries
Wayne Presbyterian Church (PCUSA), Wayne, PA August 2000 - August 2002

Youth Ministry Field Staff
Urban Discovery Ministries and Urban Young Life, Norfolk, VA
May 1997 - July 2000