Gap Year Programs
A gap year is a period of time when students take a break from formal education to travel, volunteer, study, intern, work, perform research or any combination of these activities. A gap year can also be called an interim year, deferring college, an overseas experience or taking time out. Students who take a gap may also be known as “gappers”.
Organizations and Associations
Gap Year Association –It is the aim of this non-profit organization to encourage young adults to take intentional time away from the ‘classroom’ before accruing college debt, starting their careers, and choosing a life-path, in order to facilitate perspective, purpose, and maturation. Gap Year Association has a vast number of programs, guides, membership options, tools and more to assist during this period of time.
Global Citizen Year – The year between high school and college is most critical developmental period of time in a young person’s life. This transition time – when done by design can become a transformation. Global Citizen Year offers an academy that trains a talented and diverse group of high school graduates from across America and beyond and supports them through a school-year long immersion programs in communities in India, Brazil, Ecuador and Senegal.
Affordable Colleges, The College Gap Year – This webpage of the affordablecollegesonline.org website is a phenomenal hub of information for students who may be exploring gap year options. The College Gap Year delves into the questions surrounding how, when, and why to take a gap year and provides skillful advice for those considering this decision.
Service Year Alliance – This organization’s aim is a bold vision – making a full year of paid, full-time service a common expectation and opportunity for all young adults. Service Year Alliance programs seek to support the gap year as inspiration and a powerful tool to realize theories of change, contribute to the social good, and find the right candidates to hire.
Avenues – The World School, Mastery Year – Here is a program like no other. The World School’s Mastery Year is designed for students aged 17-20 and immerses them in the history and future of innovation studies. At the same time, students simultaneously gain essential implementation skills in invention and entrepreneurship.
UnCollege – The core principle of UnCollege is that people should be empowered to take control of their own choices for learning. The experience-based program UnCollege teaches exposes young adults with the practical skills they miss in most conventional classroom settings through a blended approach of self- directed learning, accountability training, mentorship, and deliberate practice. Hint: The free guides are terrific.
High Mountain Institute – The program at the High Mountain Institute seeks to provide life-changing experiences. Specifically, HMI’s Gap Semesters unite outdoor adventure, environmental service, and leadership development on an uninterrupted journey to some of the world’s most awe-inspiring places.
Center for Interim Programs – This Center’s purpose is to assist students in making a more effective transition from high school to college and for college students to evaluate what they wanted to achieve in their college careers and beyond. As you review this website, be sure to pay special attention to the Sample Programs to get an even better feel for experiences available.
Work and Volunteer, Gap Year – This organization specializes in providing young adults with meaningful experiences through responsible travel amidst their gap year period. This website may be very helpful to those knowing they want to have a gap year experience but not yet certain of the experience they can/could have. A quick-and-easy ‘Find an experience’ online search as well as clearly defined global ventures are just the beginning of the vast amount of information available.
Thinking Beyond Borders – Rigorous and engaging real-world learning environments examine life’s challenges and place students right alongside leaders who are committed to finding solutions. If you are a young adult exploring how to spend your gap year experience, check out the programs sponsored by this organization. They are global, sustainable and educable. There is also a very helpful Guide to the Gap Year available.
Magic Carpet Rides – MCR seeks to empower cross-cultural understanding through creating opportunities for cultural immersion and community service in Guatemala. MCR was initially conceived as a gap year experience for young adults. Since 2005, this non-profit has expanded to offer placement service for people of all ages, families and academic groups interested in living with the Mayan people and volunteering their expertise.
Africa and Asia Venture – Africa & Asia Venture is a UK-based non-profit. This organization specializes in group-based full immersion gap year and summer programs in Africa and Asia. Participants work principally with young children helping them to read and write English. They live with the locals the way the locals live.
Planning Guide to the Ultimate Gap Year – If you don’t mind opening a .pdf file, this document is a phenomenal guide for all aspects of exploring, planning and funding your gap year experience. Published by Gap Year Association and Gapyearly.
Gapforce – This organization’s mission is to help young adults become global citizens through authentic, socially and environmentally responsible travel experiences which aid self-discovery and personal development. There is a range of school group trips, gap year programs, training courses and internships that all aim to provide our participants with a unique collection of experiences designed for different stages of life.
Carpe Diem Education – This organization believes that inspiration is essential to real learning and education. When inspired, students approach challenges with a sense of purpose, optimism, and curiosity. Through engaging in experiential education, community engagement and intercultural exchange, young adults develop enhanced perspectives, deeper cultural understanding, and a profound sense of self-discovery and personal growth. Programs, planners, guides, college credit and financial aid are all expanded upon to provide you with great depth of information on options.
Pacific Discovery – Here you have a plethora of experiential journeys to explore and contemplation for your gap year. Their mission is to offer the world’s best experiential programs – providing insights into an increasingly global society, developing empathy for other cultures, furthering understanding of international issues, heightening appreciation for the earth’s wild places, and assisting young adults to stretch and grow.
The Best Schools, How to Spend Your Gap Year – You’re a high school grad. Whether you’re going to college right away, eventually, or not at all, you’ve still got work to do. This organization’s magazine has published a lengthy article (March 2020) providing much insight into the nuances of gap year.
Grace Adventures – After finishing high school, the choice between college and the work world can be daunting. By taking a gap year, young adults have the opportunity to gain a better understanding of themselves and focus on a clear direction. The Ascent Gap Year Internship sponsored by Grace Adventures provides either a short-term or full-time ministry experience. Through this, young adults are equipped both personally and professionally in character-based servant leadership.
Global Routes, Gap Year – The Global Routes Independent Track (GRIT) speaks to the individual goals and interests of each participants. How it works is that after an initial consult, you work together with a counselor on the scope and sequence of your gap year experience. You are provided support with designing your goals, itinerary, pre-trip planning and safety considerations. Counselors are available throughout the duration of your gap year experience.
Council on Foreign Relations, Research and Program Associate Internships – Year-long internships for those young adults interested in international relations, communications, and political science are available in Washington, D.C. and New York City.
Green Corps – A year-long program that provides programs in environmental organizing and advocacy. Locations vary.
Service Year, A Better You! – Year-long paid opportunities with public organizations and non-profits. Locate opportunities by category, by what is most important to you and/or your area of focus. Locations vary.
City Year, One Year Experience – A year-long experience helping to create positive, responsive and welcoming education environments for children. Serving 29 cities, 21 states, 350 schools.
Colleges and Universities with Gap Year Programs
Florida State University – Gap Year
Florida State University (FSU) highly encourages incoming freshman to take a gap year. Not only that, they even provide additional funding for gap year students in need.
Princeton University – Novogratz Bridge Year Program
Princeton, New Jersey
Princeton University offers a select number of students the opportunity to participate in a nine-month, tuition-free volunteer program abroad.
Tufts – 1+4 Bridge Year
Tufts University has created an innovative “bridge-year” program that is focused on volunteering and community service. Students can give back to communities in Ecuador, India, Nicaragua, or Brazil; there are even domestic programs in the United States, which focuses on city-based outreach.
AmeriCorps – Programs
AmeriCorps is an incredible opportunity based in the United States. Students will spend ten months to a year giving back to small communities through volunteer service. They are also provided room, board, and paid a stipend that goes towards their college education.
Peace Corps – Volunteer Experience
Peace Corps is a globally-respected program that brings American volunteers to communities in need throughout the world. It is a life-changing, life-affirming experience that will open your eyes to other ways of living, making you a much more globally-aware individual.
The New School – Global Immersion Program
New York City, New York
The New School, a non-profit research university in New York City, offers a Global Immersion Program, in which students are encouraged to explore the Spanish language and local culture in Costa Rica.
Elon University – The Gap Semester Program
Elon, North Carolina
The Gap Semester Program is for those students who want to start their college career in an “off-campus environment.” The program offers international leadership and service opportunities in countries such as Costa Rica, while still allowing students to pursue academic interests.
American University – Gap Program
AU’s gap year program is located in one of the most international and globally-minded cities in the U.S.: Washington, D.C.! The program is geared towards helping students transition into the fast-paced life of college and career-preparation.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill – Global Gap Year Fellowship
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
UNC’s gap year program is structured like a fellowship program, in which students receive funding for a gap year that is dedicated to service project abroad for a year.
Duke University – Gap Year Program
Durham, North Carolina
Duke encourages students to participate in an established program or propose an independent plan for their year off, particularly one that promotes personal growth.
Wheaton College – Vanguard Gap Year
The Vanguard Gap Year Program takes place at HoneyRock, which is Wheaton’s Outdoor Center for Leadership Development.
Berry College – Year of Service
Mount Berry, Georgia
Berry College’s Year of Service is a special college gap year plan that has been recognized as one of the best gap year programs in the US. Students in the Year of Service will live in themed housing at Berry. Those participating in this program engage in the societal challenges the community faces, following the college’s