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Ultimate Guide to Gap Year Programs

Gap years after high school and before college can take many different shapes. It’s important to prioritize what is important to you when determining how to spend your gap year.

 

WHAT SHOULD YOU DO DURING A GAP YEAR?

Depending on what your career and educational aspirations are, you might choose to spend a year between high school and college doing one or more of the following things:

  • Traveling and learning languages
  • Volunteering at home or abroad
  • Getting college admissions and career counseling
  • Working to save money for college
  • Taking college classes at local universities or community colleges
  • Interning in industries that interest you

Still deciding if a gap year is right for you? Read more about what you can accomplish during gap years.

GAP YEAR PROGRAMS

It’s important to have a plan going into your gap year; it’s far too easy to lose momentum and drift away from your sense of purpose if you don’t have a set of goals and people keeping you accountable. Some people choose to create a gap year plan on their own, but many people benefit from the structure, resources, and wide range of opportunities available through set gap year programs. We’ve compiled a list of some top gap year programs to help you start your search.

GAP YEAR PROGRAMS: BOOST BY KAPLAN

Boost is a 12-week online college and career planning program. You’ll begin the program by mapping out paths to different careers that interest you and learning how to build skills in high demand by employers today. You’ll then spend three weeks diving deeper into each of your chosen career pathways, complete experiential learning projects, and learn from leaders of participating companies about their experiences. Finally, you’ll create a concrete plan to take you from your college major selection to first jobs.

GAP YEAR PROGRAMS: EF GAP YEAR

[   Learn More:  EF GAP YEAR   ]

Spend a semester or a year traveling the world, learning a language, participating in service learning experiences, working on your college applications, completing internships, and attending a leadership academy. You’ll be able to choose the countries you visit for your language learning, service project, and internship experience, so it’s truly a customizable experience.

Spend a semester or a year traveling the world, learning a language, participating in service learning experiences, working on your college applications, completing internships, and attending a leadership academy. You’ll be able to choose the countries you visit for your language learning, service project, and internship experience, so it’s truly a customizable experience.

[   Learn More:  UPENN’S COLLEGE OF LIBERAL AND PROFESSIONAL STUDIES   ]

GAP YEAR PROGRAMS: INTERNATIONAL VOLUNTEER HQ

IVHQ is a safe, highly-rated volunteer program that allows students to choose a country and field for their volunteer work. From school support to arts and music to construction, the opportunities through IVHQ are designed to provide a long-lasting impact to communities around the world. Sign up for a solo or group project that lasts between 1 and 12 weeks, depending on location.

[   Learn More:  INTERNATIONAL VOLUNTEER HQ   ]

GAP YEAR PROGRAMS: CET ACADEMIC PROGRAMS

CET, which originally stood for “China Educational Tools,” has expanded its reach since it began in 1982 to offer gap year programs in Italy, Brazil, Columbia, Japan, and Jordan in addition to China. View these programs like a study abroad; these language-focused, semester-long academic programs can earn you up to 15 college credits.

[   Learn More:  CET ACADEMIC PROGRAMS  ]

Learn critical thinking and communication skills through modules concinding with different sections of the New York Times. You’ll study topics such as the museums of New York City, how fan fiction shapes pop culture, #metoo in the workplace, food sustainability, recognizing bias in reporting, school segregation and educational equity, and more with award-winning New York Times journalists and some of the world’s greatest thought leaders, all while living in New York City.

[   Learn More:  THE SCHOOL OF THE NEW YORK TIMES  ]

GAP YEAR PROGRAMS: WINTERLINE

The Winterline Gap Year Program is a series of travel experiences, skill-building opportunities, volunteer work, and internships, taking place over 9 months and 10 countries. You’ll spend time learning and exploring with other students and on your own, completing three individual projects over the course of the program in addition to group projects and experiences.

[   Learn More:  WINTERLINE  ]

GAP YEAR SCHOLARSHIPS

Funding a gap year program can be difficult, but there are many funding opportunities available. Many programs have their own financial aid options, be they loans or scholarships, so consider that when evaluating gap year programs. There are also several independent scholarships available for students interested in taking a gap year, including the following:

  • TRAVEL ACCESS PROJECT

    The Travel Access Project (TAP) awards up to ten $3,000 grants to students pursuing gap year travel. Additionally, in partnership with Pupusas for Education, TAP is providing an additional two $3,000 grants for undocumented students wishing to take a domestic gap year.

  • INTEREXCHANGE CHRISTIANSON GRANT

    This grant provides between $2,500 and $10,000 to American students participating in a work, internship, or volunteer study abroad program and carrying out individual service projects. Past projects include promoting sustainable agriculture in rural Guatemala, empowering refugees through employment training in Athens, and advocating for deaf rights in Italy. 

  • BROWER YOUTH AWARD FOR ENVIRONMENTAL LEADERSHIPS

    Students leading a group environmental project or effort should consider applying for the Brower Youth Award. Recipients of the award will receive $3,000 cash, a professionally produced short film about their work, and a speaking tour and awards ceremony in San Francisco, California.