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Not everyone is ready to jump out of high school and go straight into 4 more years (at least) of academics and learning. Some are burned out, some are not sure what career they want to pursue, and some just want to travel and find out more about themselves. Whatever the reason, a gap year can be a fantastic experience and should be seriously considered if you are not absolutely sure about diving straight into college. There are numerous “formal” gap year programs that vary according to their purpose. We have many of them listed, along with their contact information, for those of you who want to see if they might be a good fit.

Some refer to it as a year “on” rather than a year “off” because the student uses this time to deepen his or her awareness on a practical, professional and personal level. We are highlighting gap year programs in our Life Action Plan because these programs offer much needed direction to many. Furthermore, students who complete a gap year before enrolling in a 4 year college scored higher in job satisfaction surveys post college and also had higher GPA’s than traditional students. Gap programs are springing up all over the place, you just have to know where to look! Luckily, you’ve found the right place! Check out the links below to find out more!

 

American Gap Association

Their mantra is “integrity in gap years”. You can’t really go wrong with that. Their sole purpose is to provide accreditation for gap year programs. All programs endorsed by the American Gap Association are held to the highest standard of safety, leadership and office support. The bottom line is that the programs they recommend will be worthy of your time and effort. The following organizations have been thoroughly screened by the AGA and come highly recommended as the best in Gap Year education and the highest consistency in programing.

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Outward Bound

Featuring 3 month and shorter Gap Year courses. For over 50 years Outward Bound has been a premier provider of experiential and outdoor education programs for youth and adults. Outward Bound offers courses in some of the most spectacular and inspiring settings in the United States and in Central and South America, successfully preparing students to confront the challenges they face today with self-confidence, tenacity and compassion.

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Ridge Mountain Academy

RIDGE Mountain Academy has semester and yearlong programs designed for male and female student athletes ages 16 to 20 who have a passion for the mountains. Located in Whitefish, Montana, RIDGE is a campus-based academy that focuses on mountain sports, education, and life skills. RIDGE prepares student athletes of all abilities — beginner to elite — to strengthen their training, forge new skills, and discover their true potential.

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Amigos

Semester and Yearlong Gap Year internships in Nicaragua. Focus on service- learning with local NGOs and independent projects. In-country training, workshops, excursions and final debriefing included. Rolling admissions with Fall, Spring, and Summer departures.

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American University Gap Year Program

American University’s Gap Program provides students with an experiential education experience in Washington, D.C., focusing on college credit, internships, and service learning. Semester or year-long programs available.

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Winterline Global Skills Program

Winterline offers skills-based gap year, semester, and summer abroad programs. Students learn a wide variety of skills as they travel to multiple countries around the world with mentors and a cohort of fellow students. Skills learned include documentary film-making, wilderness survival, starting a business, SCUBA diving, horseback riding, mixology, and permaculture design.

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National Outdoor Leadership School

The National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) is the leader in wilderness education. Whether through field-based courses or classroom-based courses, NOLS offers a focus on leadership and outdoors skills in some of the most awe-inspiring locations in the world. Emerge an active leader with lifelong skills.

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Camps International

Service learning Gap programs in South America, South East Asia and East Africa. Programs run throughout the year and students can choose an experience from 2 to 3-months. Camps International are a Social Enterprise working to empower communities and deliver sustainable community, conversation and environment solutions through their network of permanent volunteer camps in Peru, Ecuador, Borneo, Cambodia, Tanzania and Kenya.

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Omprakash (EdGE)

Omprakash Education through Global Engagement (EdGE): 2 – 12 month individual Gap Year programs connecting volunteers with opportunities in 40 countries around the globe. Ongoing departures. Includes comprehensive online training and mentorships.

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Carpe Diem Education

3 & 8 month Gap Year programs in Central America, South America, India, Southeast Asia, the South Pacific, East Africa, and the Native American Southwest focusing on community, cultural exchange, service-learning, and adventure. Fall and Spring departures.

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The Leap

Overland service and adventure programs departing every semester with shorter summer options. These programs include a mix of different project and adventure phases to keep students challenged and motivated travelling around a country as part of a Leap team of volunteers who join together from all over the world. The Leap hires local leaders to avoid the tourist trail while contributing to communities who are trying to improve the quality of their lives. As well, The Leap also offers career-focused internships in medical, law or business. All volunteers/families are appointed their own Leap gap advisor who will make sure they are fully briefed and prepared pre-departure and the families are kept up to date with their progress while they are away. Programs are available across Africa, Asia and South America.

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Global Routes

3 month immersive Gap semester programs in Latin America, Asia, and Africa. Gap programs are based on Global Routes’ Teaching Internship Program model. Since 1986, Global Routes programs have offered participants an opportunity to immerse themselves into a small rural community, develop long-lasting cross-cultural relationships, and make positive contributions that will last a lifetime. Fall and Spring options. Financial aid and scholarships available.

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Cross Cultural Solutions

3 month service-learning Gap Year programs in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Students can visit multiple countries as part of their Gap Year through the Global Gap, Spanish Immersion, and Diversity of Africa Gap Year experiences. Customized start dates and durations also available year-round. Cross-Cultural Solutions is a non-profit organization that partners with sustainable community initiatives, bringing people together to work side-by-side while sharing perspectives and fostering cultural understanding.

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Where There Be Dragons

3 month Gap Year programs in China, Tibetan Himalayas, Southeast Asia, South America, West Africa, Indonesia, Central America, and the Middle East. Fall and Spring departures.

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Pacific Discovery

Pacific Discovery offers semester and Gap Year programs abroad since 2001. Programs are overland journeys combining authentic immersion, meaningful service, and wilderness adventure – fostering empathy for other cultures, ethical and sustainable travel practices, and awareness of international issues. Students leave with a deepened sense of their identity, passion, and purpose. Programs are a 10 week journey with an optional 3-week independent extension to apply newly developed travel skills. Programs in New Zealand, Australia, Southeast Asia, South America, Central America, Cuba, Galapagos Islands, India, Nepal, Tibet, China. Fall, Spring, and Summer departures can be taken consecutively for an in-depth and transformative Gap Year experience. Scholarships and academic credit options available.

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Semester At Sea

Semester at Sea is the only study abroad program of its kind in the world. Using a ship as our floating campus, Semester at Sea’s around-the-world and regional itineraries offer courses for all majors, field explorations in amazing destinations, engagement with global leaders and experts, and service opportunities in as many as 15 countries in one semester. Credit earned is fully transferable by Colorado State University to your home university. SAS offers more than $4 million in financial aid each year. Don’t miss the boat on our SAS scholarships and grants. Since 1963, Semester at Sea has launched over 110 voyages, educated more than 63,000 alumni from 1,700 institutions, and traveled to more than 60 countries.

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Thinking Beyond Borders

A variety of Gap Year programs, including the 2-semester Global Gap Year, South America Gap Semester, and Asia Gap Semester combining deep cultural immersion, fieldwork with experts, and engaging readings and discussions. Fall and Spring semester options.

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Rustic Pathways

Semester experiences in the South Pacific, Asia, Latin America, and Africa. Programs facilitate community service, cultural immersion, outdoor adventure, personal growth, language, and skills courses. Fall and Spring departures available.

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Abroad 101

In the university world they call it a sabbatical, for students who need a pause between high school and college, the term is Gap Year. For a growing number of American students, a Gap Year Abroad is a chance to can help you learn and appreciate a culture outside of the United States. It can better prepare you for college or boost your future employment potential and just help you grow up. It can also give you the time and experience to make tough decisions, like what you truly want to study or what career to pursue and that makes Gap Year a worthwhile investment to some. There is a common misconception that a Gap Year is a year off, but for students who aren’t quite sure of what they want, but know they want something different, we suggest contacting a Gap Year Abroad provider to help connect you with an engaging and rewarding experience overseas. Providers listed on this curated directory are committed to offering Gap Year Abroad programs. There are other options available from many standard study abroad providers, we suggest you also look at our general directory of Gap Year Abroad Programs.

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Year On

We offer year, semester, and summer programs designed to take you away from your everyday life, uncover what’s important to you, and teach you the skills you need to succeed in college and beyond.

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