The ultimate gap year for homeschoolers

Millions of students have had their college plans upended by COVID-19. Unbound is excited to provide homeschoolers with an online program that trains exceptional leaders, provides a safe place to learn, and fosters Christian community.

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How it Works

Conventional education keeps students at their desks, actively undermines their faith in Christ, and forces most of them to start their life in debt. Ascend is different.

At Ascend, we provide students with the tools, community, and experiences that enable them to live an extraordinary life pursuing the will of God — and they can earn a fully-accredited bachelor’s degree at the same time.


We'll ask you a few questions to make sure you're a good fit for the Ascend community. Once you enroll, you'll get a fully customized degree plan for your academics as well as a welcome kit!



Ascend students are assigned to a team to help them through academics and projects, are granted full access to Unbound's world-class community, are given leadership opportunities, and attend three live events each year (travel and registration included).



Whether you stick with the program for one year or four, Ascend students graduate with easily-transferable college credits to finalize their degree from their chosen institution and graduate with more professional experience than any of their peers.


What Ascend can do for
Gap Year Students


Train exceptional leaders

Preparing and developing homeschool graduates to carry the torch for the next generation is critical to keep the movement alive and protect parental rights. Unbound's new programs and courses are designed to do exactly that.


Provide a safe place to learn

We are well aware of the dangers to Christians and homeschoolers presented by conventional models of higher education. Unbound can provide world-class community, real life professional experience, and a safe place to fail that enables homeschool students to launch into life.


Foster Christian community

Unbound is home to an exceptional Christian community and some of the best homeschool graduates. Complete with events year-round, online forums, video hangouts, and opportunities for international missions, the Unbound community connects over a thousand friends around the world.

Program Overview


Ascend Teams are the cornerstone of the program. After a student is placed in a team of 7-10 of their peers, they receive—and provide—coaching, encouragement, and accountability. One student in each team is mentored directly by program staff and acts as the team leader.

Eric Metaxas with Ascend students


A collection of events bring the Ascend program to life by providing a platform for students to forge relationships in person and learn in an even more intense environment.

Dr. Benjamin Hardy speaking to Ascend students

Expert Workshops

The expert workshops are monthly webinars that expose students to a wide variety of fields, ideas, and principles. One month they might be engaging with an expert in marketing, and the next month a full-time missionary. Students rate these workshops among their favorite parts of the program.

Student leaders

Student Leadership

Student leaders—selected and trained by staff—are the lifeblood of everything in the Ascend program. Student leaders play a critical role in planning events, onboarding new students, and facilitating online and in-person environments for the community. These leaders are constantly learning life-lessons with hands-on experience.


Whether enrolled for 9, 15, or 30 credits, Ascend students have access to expert advising and a huge library of transferable college courses from some of the biggest academic providers. Dr. Jeff Myers' Signature Leadership Courses are included in the program.

Student Projects

Ascend students conceive, plan, and execute a project as a part of the program. An opportunity for students to apply what they are learning, these projects have ranged from starting a nonprofit to building a canoe for a multi-day trip.


Ascend students get full access to our vibrant community. Complete with online forums, video hangouts, and opportunities for international missions, this community connects over a thousand friends around the world.

Ascend Events


For new students, APEX is the ultimate orientation. For graduating students, APEX is the ultimate crescendo. This event is the largest event in the program—open to alumni, family, and friends. Past speakers include Eric Metaxas, Joel Salatin, Phylicia Masonheimer, and Navy SEAL Mike Ritland.


Bootcamp is an intensive life training event held somewhere warm each January. Bootcamp breaks students into smaller groups, presents challenges for those groups to work on, and is designed to train students in critical life skills that they will need no matter what career or vocation they are called to.


Held in the mountains of Colorado, Capstone is part of the last course in the Signature Leadership Series. At this event, students are mentored in person by Dr. Jeff Myers on Christian leadership.

Apply Now

If you’re ready to be challenged, work hard, participate in Christian community, learn more than you’ve ever learned before, and make the most of your gap year, you’re the student we want.

Applications close on December 18, 2020 for the Spring 2021 class. Spring students will start on January 11, 2021.

9 Credits

  •  3 college courses
  •  Registration and travel to Capstone & Bootcamp
  •  Signature Leadership Courses
  •  Ascend team assignment
  •  Access to expert workshops
  •  Opportunities for leadership
  •  Access to the community, forever
  • Signature Leadership Certification


with a payment plan


paid in full

Apply Now

15 Credits

  •  5 college courses
  •  Registration and travel to all events
  •  Signature Leadership Courses
  •  Ascend team assignment
  •  Access to expert workshops
  •  Opportunities for leadership
  •  Access to the community, forever
  • Signature Leadership Certification
  • Ascend Certification


with a payment plan


paid in full

30 Credits

  •  10 college courses
  •  Registration and travel to all events
  •  Signature Leadership Courses
  •  Ascend team assignment
  •  Access to expert workshops
  •  Opportunities for leadership
  •  Access to the community, forever
  • Signature Leadership Certification
  • Ascend Certification


with a payment plan


paid in full

Want to talk to someone before you apply? Schedule a call with us!


What is Ascend?

Ascend is Unbound’s core program, designed as a year-long intensive that combines the best of flexible academics, practical life skills, robust community, and leadership expertise. Students graduate Ascend with more than college credit—they graduate with knowledge from field experts, a life-changing leadership credential, a challenging project completed, practical skills from life courses, a remarkable professional and personal network, and having attended three powerful live events.

Who is this program designed for?

Ascend students want something more. They recognize that they are called to a life of meaning, service, and leadership—and are willing to pursue that vision. They’re willing to commit time, effort, and energy to the process of growth, and they see the value of skills and principles that will equip them for a life of impact. They’re willing to be part of a team, knowing that they and their fellow students can help each other to go further and do more than they could on their own.

They know that an extraordinary life lies past the edge of their comfort zone, and even if it takes time, they’re willing to set sail for that horizon.

If this sounds like you, Ascend was designed for you. (And you should go apply.)

Can I do Ascend as a dual enrollment high school student?

Yes! High school students can do Ascend as a dual enrollment year. We recommend our 15-credit package for high school students who are just entering the college world.

Can I do Ascend as a gap year?

Of course! While some level of academic participation is currently required to enroll in Ascend, you can select our 15-credit option if you would prefer to take fewer classes.

Can I do Ascend for multiple years?

Yes! You can take one to four years of Ascend. Each year is designed to be a full experience in itself, but subsequent years build on each other and provide students with deeper and more significant opportunities as they progress.

Can I use financial aid, scholarships, or tuition assistance plans for Ascend?

Because we are affiliated with schools but are not a college ourselves, we cannot take financial aid, scholarships, or tuition assistance directly. However, you are welcome to utilize available options at your discretion and use those funds to enroll in Ascend. Because we’ve all been college students too, we’re excited that our pricing structure is set lower than the average state school with tuition assistance!

Our Team

Hint: We're all homeschoolers.

Jonathan Brush

President and CEO

Jonathan Brush is the President and CEO of Unbound, a homeschool graduate, and a homeschool dad of six. He worked for nine years as a Director of Admissions for a private, liberal arts college, and then spent over ten years working in non-traditional higher education.

Jonathan loves Unbound and Unbound students and dreams every single day about new ways to connect them to each other. He gets to work with the world’s best team and the most amazing student body in the history of the world (which is just as awesome as it sounds), and field questions about Rule 4 violations (ask an Unbound student to explain). Jonathan and his family make their home in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.

Megan Weber


Megan Weber is the COO of Unbound. She is a homeschool graduate and 2014 Unbound graduate who fell in love with her college experience as she earned her BSBA. She enjoys being the ‘get it done’ force behind new ideas and loves interacting with students online and in person. When she's not planning events, creating spreadsheets, or keeping the Unbound team on track, she can usually be found spending time with friends, mastering a new skill, or booking a flight for her next adventure.

Ben Billups


Ben Billups is the CMO and CIO of Unbound. After graduating in 2016 from the Unbound program with a degree in Economics, Ben served as a public policy analyst for the Texas Legislature, the Student Communications Director for Unbound, and, most recently, as the Marketing Manager for a landmark statewide news organization in Texas.

Ben is a homeschool graduate, an obsessive learner, a native Texan, an award-winning filmmaker, and an active competitor in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. 

Ellie Smith

Director, Sales & Admissions

Ellie Smith is the Director of Sales and Admissions for Unbound. She is a homeschool and Unbound graduate with a degree in Communications from Thomas Edison State University. In 2017 and 2018, she served on the Unbound National Student Cabinet as the Director of Sales and Marketing. In 2019, she traveled to Ecuador with Unbound’s mission team.

When Ellie isn't working with our awesome students, she's probably reading too many books at once, working on a graphic design or hand lettering project, or napping. Because naps are awesome. Her favorite meals are street tacos, popcorn, and coffee.

Victoria Grant

Director, Coaching & Content

Victoria Grant is the Director of Content and Coaching for Unbound. An Unbound graduate, Victoria has served in a variety of roles including student leadership, coaching, and in the Business and Leadership program. She is passionate about equipping young adults to recognize their potential, to know God, and make Him known in daily life.

When she’s not working on an Unbound project, you can find her scribbling on a novel, playing a favorite instrument, riding horses, watching a sunset, or dreaming up some new adventure that absolutely includes the Pacific coastline. One of the best parts of her world is walking alongside her fellow Unbound students as they make an eternal impact in their generation.

Want help picking your plan?