Gap Year Options

It may not be your wish to go to college immediately after you finish your senior year. Maybe you want to take a break and do something different. Maybe you want to get out and see some of the world. Maybe you want to try living in a city and having a job before another long stint of school begins. Maybe you want to go help build health centers, schools, or parks. Or maybe you want to spend the year indulging in your artistry, sport, or particular talent.

If you decide that you want to get out of the school track for the year between twelfth grade and your first year of college, then you are ready to explore the possibilities of a gap year. This section of the website can help get you started! You can link to Gap Year Resources (recommended books and a list of gap year consultants), Opportunities in the U.S., and Opportunities Abroad. Consider the many options laid out here, and visit the College Counseling Office and talk to a counselor about your gap year opportunities.

Before you do any of these things it is essential that you go through the college process during your junior and senior years, just as though you were getting ready to go to college immediately after your graduation. You should attend all meetings with the college counselors, search for schools that interest you, and apply to those schools. The College Counseling Office very strongly recommends this course of action because you may then defer from a college that accepts you, and then you can go to this school the following year. Also, there is always the possibility that you will change your mind and decide that you want to go college right away after all!

If you are ready to plan a Gap Year, make it a part of your plan to document what you do and what you learn throughout your year. The vast majority of colleges will support your decision to take a year to pursue other interests, but when you come back to begin college they may want you to submit something to them that details your experiences. The form this takes may vary: some Gap Year alums have kept journals, some have written academic papers, and some have produced films. Whatever to form, in it be sure to consider these types of questions: What did you do with your time "off?" What are you taking away from your experiences?


American Gap Association

The nonprofit American Gap Association advances the field of Gap Years by collaboratively pioneering research on its benefits, as well as serving as an information and advocacy hub for university admissions personnel and educational counselors. Its primary focus is on increasing the awareness of Gap Years and their proven benefits within the American educational system.

Visit AGA website


Please let the College Counseling Office know if there are more books that we should add to our library. Here are five to get you started.

The Gap Year Book: the Definitive Guide to Planning and Taking a Year Out

Published by the Lonely Planet Guidebooks, The Gap Year Book is a rich resource covering the basics of what to consider, where to go, what programs you might find there, and how to get underway. The chapters are organized by region, type of jobs, and volunteer programs. It is filled with maps, photographs and itineraries of Gap Year past and current participants, and practical travel information.

Taking Time Off: Inspiring Stories of Students Who Enjoyed Successful Breaks from College and How You Can Plan Your Own

Colin Hall and Ron Lieber were commissioned by The Princeton Review to write this book, a New York Times bestseller. It contains short “case studies” about individuals who took time off to work, volunteer, study, and/or travel. Each study finishes with a list of web links if you’d like to learn more about a specific kind of experience.

The Teenagers’ Guide to School Outside the Box

Written by Rebecca Greene and published by Free Spirit Publishing, this somewhat whimsical treatment of how to approach the Gap Year is also very informative. It breaks the possibilities into two basic groupings—things you can do at home, and things you can do away from home. It is stuffed with helpful “FYI” boxes, cartoons, bulleted lists of ideas and plans, and “spotlights” different kinds of opportunities.

Success without College: Why Your Child May Not Have to Go to College Right Now—and May Not Have to Go at All
This brave new book by Linda Lee published by Broadway Books introduces the revolutionary idea that maybe not every child has to go to college after all! She looks at the assumptions we have about college, makes an actual case against college, talks about the benefits of a thirteenth year of school, and why it may be that someone should go out in the world before reading about it in a classroom.

Time Off from Work: Using Sabbaticals to Enhance Your Life While Keeping Your Career on Track

By its title, this books would not seem to be appropriate for the typical kid just graduating high school, but if you want to get a job for your year off, or an internship, or a volunteer position, then many of the chapters within author Lisa Angowski Rogak’s book, published by John Wiley & Sons, will be extremely helpful. She writes about how to plan to reach your goal, how to increase your chances of getting the job, how to negotiate, and how to get back on track when your year has ended.

Job and Volunteer Databases

The AEE has a jobs clearinghouse, searchable by location and job type (seasonal, fulltime, internship, etc.), for people interested in exploring experiential education.
On this site, you will need to register (free), and then you can post your resume to thousands of companies offering internships. You can also browse through internship listings.

Summer Jobs Search

If you register (free), you can search summer jobs here by keyword, location, or “top jobs” categories.

Opportunities in the United States

The following is an annotated list of websites to help you begin to research the types of things you can do in the U.S. during your Gap Year.

Please keep in mind that the Waynflete College Counseling Office does not endorse any particular program; in fact, we ask that if you have had experiences with any of them, to please relate your experiences to us so that we may continue to learn about them. If you would like us to add any programs, also let us know. Lastly, if you find that the links here are no longer working properly, we would like to know that, too, so that we may update them. Thank you!

AmeriCorps is a network of national service programs that engage more than 50,000 Americans each year in intensive service in education, public safety, health, environmental nonprofits, public agencies, and faith-based organizations. AmeriCorps volunteers tutor and mentor youth, build affordable housing, teach computer skills, clean parks and streams, run after-school programs, and help in disaster relief.
AMC volunteers work to promote the protection and enjoyment of Northeast mountains, rivers, and trails in the Appalachian region, maintaining trails, leading hikes, advocating on local conservation issues, and more.

The Balsams in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, has been a New England resort for more than a century. It offers internships for college credit, as well as employment for the summer or a semester.
This site lists links to many television networks, stations, and programs, most of which have great internship possibilities.
City Year says of its volunteers: “Young enough to want to change the world, old enough to do it.” City year volunteers pledge at least a year to “civic engagement and transformative service” in communities across the country.

College Light Opera Company

The College Light Opera Company on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, is the largest resident theater company in the U.S. The company performs nine operettas and musicals each season with full orchestral accompaniment. CLOC welcomes younger applicants seeking to gain experience in musical theater.
Cool Works can help you find summer and seasonal employment in great places—work at national parks, resorts, ranches, and more.
Live and work at Walt Disney World, a one-of-a kind, 47-square-mile "learning laboratory,” and try out multiple career options—business and finance, hospitality, tourism, communications, and marketing are just a few.
A year of all kinds of learning and adventure—Outward Bound, work experience, apartment living, community involvement, and college credit—all rolled into one program.

Institute for Experiential Learning

This is the home site of the Washington Internship Institute, the perfect opportunity to try out politics in DC. Washington Internship students come back fully charged and ready to advance in the world, having enjoyed a learning experience in government that is unequalled.
Kroka Expeditions in Vermont is a Wilderness Adventure School dedicated to assisting young people in developing strong character, responsibility, community, and sense of place in harmony with nature. Programs offer “state-of-the-art technical instruction in adventure sports balanced with the ancient art of wilderness living.”
A huge, and hugely successful venture offering educational opportunities in natural settings all over the globe, or just the chance to travel with a trusted outfitter that accentuates nature in all of its forms.
If you would like to work for the National Park Service as a Student Conservation Corps member—spending a summer interning in Yellowstone, or a winter in the Badlands— or would just be happy volunteering in some capacity, then this is the place to start.
Real jobs in the Nature Conservancy. You can apply for one right from their site, or explore a little bit to find volunteer positions.
NOLS bills itself as the best outdoor leadership school available, and graduates report that this powerful program changed them fundamentally. See also Outward Bound.
If you want to go live in New York City, you might try seeing what’s available for you to do there (“everything” may be a fine answer, but it doesn’t pay the bills) on this website first.
The original adventure-based outdoor educational program, Outward Bound offers an incredible selection of programs and courses. See also NOLS.
Pine Mountain, in Kentucky, offers a teaching internship unlike any other—you can live at the settlement school, and intern first as a teacher’s aide, and then as a full teacher. You will develop and implement environmental education for elementary-school-aged children.

Resort Intern Connection

Resort Intern Connection places bright, young adults in organizations in the resort, travel, and tourism fields in either Hilton Head or Myrtle Beach, SC.

The Washington Center (TWC) is a nonprofit organization serving hundreds of colleges and universities in the U.S. and other countries by providing selected students challenging opportunities to work and learn in Washington, D.C. for academic credit. TWC has over 33,000 alumni, leaders in numerous professions and nations around the world.
Stonehearth Open Learning Opportunities, or SOLO, is a wilderness school located in Conway, NH, that offers “an educational, research, and conference center to both the international outdoor rescue and emergency medical communities as well as the local rural communities of New England.”

Opportunities Abroad

The following is an annotated list of websites to help you begin to research the types of things you can do during your Gap Year if you want to travel, work, or study abroad.

Please keep in mind that the Waynflete College Counseling Office does not endorse any particular program; in fact, we ask that if you have had experiences with any of them, to please relate your experiences to us so that we may continue to learn about them. If you would like us to add any programs, also let us know. Lastly, if you find that the links here are no longer working properly, we would like to know that, too, so that we may update them. Thank you!

Idealist presents a job bank of internship possibilities for people interested in contributing to global and community nonprofits. Work for peace in Sudan, or teach Peruvians how to cook potatoes, or help victims of the December 2004 Tsunami.
The Quebec-Labrador Foundation supports the Atlantic Center for the Environment, which “exists to support the rural communities and environment of eastern Canada and New England, and to create models for stewardship of natural resources and cultural heritage that can be applied worldwide.”
The BAEF has developed a year expressly for those taking time in between high school and college who wish to take “an English adventure” by spending a year studying at a rigorous English boarding school.
Boston University sponsors over 4,000 worldwide internship sources, and promotes all kinds of Study Abroad programs, most of which offer opportunities for college credit while living in and experiencing other countries.
The Castle Rock Institute is an educational community devoted to balancing academic work in the humanities and outdoor adventure. It sponsors off-campus study programs for college students that combine coursework in religion, philosophy, literature, and art with backpacking, climbing, biking, and paddling. With locations in North Carolina, Australia, and New Zealand, it offers college students an Environmental Studies program, a Leadership program, and a thematic Humanities program.”

Sail around the world, and earn college credits!
If you know where (what country or region) you would like to study abroad, then go to this link, find your area, and see what opportunities are listed for you.
CIEE's mission is to help people gain understanding, acquire knowledge and develop skills for living in a globally interdependent and culturally diverse world. They help students find a job or an interesting location to study.
Choose from 3 different programs: Volunteer Abroad, Intern Abroad, and Insight Abroad, lengths of stay of 1-12 weeks, and 10 countries: Brazil, China, Costa Rica, Ghana, Guatemala, India, Peru, Russia, Tanzania and Thailand.
Affiliated with the University of Copenhagen, this program allows you to study abroad for a semester while collecting college credits. You might choose to spend half of your year studying, and half of your year working or traveling through this program.
Its mission: Research. Conservation. Education. The Earthwatch Institute engages people worldwide in scientific field research and education to promote the understanding and action necessary for a sustainable environment. Academic credit is available.
The site isn’t easy to navigate, but the opportunities for immersion learning from the Education First International Language Schools are impressive!

El Casal

Designed expressly for the Gap Year student, in Barcelona, Spain, El Casal is an intensive fourteen-week language course that combines travel, study, community service, and internships.
This travel outfit caters to women, offering internships in schools, biological reserves, conservation areas, rainforests and cloudforests, wildlife rehabilitation centers, sea turtle monitoring, animal shelters and clinics, farming & forestry projects, eco-tourist projects in Australia, Belize, Costa Rica, New Zealand, Mexico, Guatemala, Puerto Rico, and Nepal.
Flying Fish offers professional training and international adventure, with gap year programs in sailing, diving, surfing, windsurfing, kitesurfing, snowboarding, or skiing. Join Flying Fish in the UK, Australia, Canada, Greece, Cyprus or Egypt.
Global Experiences offers internships abroad in countries as diverse as the job opportunities you might find there, from a fashion internship in Italy to Red Cross training in the Amazon rainforest in Ecuador.
Global Routes offers summer internships—during which you may help build a school, or cook your host family dinner—and teaching internships—which allow you to teach English to non-native English speakers—in a variety of countries.

Global Service Corps has gone into high gear since the December 2004 Tsunami disaster—it is a program that places volunteers in health services positions in both Thailand and in Tanzania. This is a true cultural immersion experience.


This upbeat, “meaningful work” database provides links to information about programs abroad in: community development; conservation; English teaching; coaching sports; paid teaching positions; journalism and film production; building homes and schools; health and medical internships; marketing; tourism and leisure projects; and TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) courses.
ICEP offers programs of study, jobs, and travel opportunities in Turkey.
This International organization, based in western Massachusetts, has a fiery attitude, and it is 100% dedicated to helping some of the poorest, most destitute areas in the world. It has programs currently running in Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, South Africa, and Brazil.
Go to school in Denmark — Elsinore Castle is nearby, Sweden is a 20-minute ferry ride, and Copenhagen is 45 minutes by train. IPC offers courses that last from 8 to 22 weeks.

Italian Language School in Italy

Study the Italian language and drink in the culture of old city Florence, Rome, Milan, or Siena—and get college credits while you are at it.

The goal of Lisle programs is “to maximize interaction between travelers and host cultures, promoting a fundamental appreciation of diversity.” Students on a Lisle trip could be working directly with accomplished Balinese artists studying gamelan music and native dancing or learning about the production of taro on a plantation on the island of Kauai, or perhaps helping people in the barrios of Colombia. The site offers trip journals of participants.
This company has put together a site packed with information about all of the things to consider if you’re thinking about living, studying, working, or just traveling abroad. It is an utterly unbiased and incredibly informative account.
OBS goes international—taking its outdoor adventure programs all over the world. Now there are no limits.

This program offers you a chance to live, learn, and work in one of 14 different countries, and then give back to the communities that have hosted you. It is a fully developed program that allows you to play an active role in the program designed for you, and also offers financial aid.
This British organization offers volunteer and work opportunities in projects in 17 countries. With projects in teaching, care & community, conservation, medicine, journalism, business, archaeology, veterinary, languages, and more, you can both learn from and help in local communities.
Public Allies posts opportunities for “diverse young leaders to strengthen communities, non-profits, and civic participation.”
Saint Andrews Study in Scotland (
Saint Andrews in Scotland is one of the world’s finest universities, and has excellent academic opportunities as well as an award-winning summer creative writing seminar.
If you want to go to work in another country and environmental field work is your calling, visit the SFS site. Their mission: “We believe that everyone has a valuable role to play in helping to protect our environment for future generations of plant, animal and human life on earth.” Students and faculty work together in Kenya, Mexico, Costa Rica, The Turks & Caicos Islands, and Australia to help communities solve environmental problems.
Go to school at sea, and learn about continents by visiting them! Co-sponsored by The University of Pittsburgh and the Institute for Shipboard Education, over 35,000 people have gone to sea with SAS since 1926. One of the bonuses of visiting the Semester at Sea site is that there is almost always a MV Explorer trip underway, and you can read the ship logs, and follow the vessel’s progress.
St. Clare’s, Oxford, England, offers pre-university study in addition to its regular undergraduate and graduate programs, and a summer program as well. It has a unique reason for its founding in 1953—it wanted to bring peoples of the world together, following the divisiveness of World War Two.

Students Partnership Worldwide

If you are serious about making a difference in the HIV/AIDS epidemic, then be sure to look at the SPW programs. Travel to Nepal, Soutbh Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, or Zambia, and spend eight months really making a difference by educating the people who live in these nations. Or, do the same thing for four months in India.
Going abroad? Then be sure to go to this site to learn about everything from where you might go, to what kind of health and travel insurance is available to you, to global mobile telephone service. Read a profile on a performing arts school in Italy, a summer studies program in Brazil, or a semester in new Zealand.
The University of California, Irvine, has put together a fairly comprehensive list of international education opportunities.

VID, located in Washington, DC, recruits interns for non-profits and development organizations in Latin America. More partnerships in other countries are being planned.
Where There Be Dragons offers students, school groups, adults, and professional educators remarkable learning opportunities through off-the-beaten path, small group expeditions to China, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Tibet, India, Mongolia, Mexico, Guatemala, Peru, Bolivia, and Senegal. Trips are rugged, creative, and engaging journeys that combine wilderness exploration, trekking to remote villages, introduction to traditional philosophy and artistic traditions, home-stays, service projects, language training, and cultural studies.”
World Learning promotes international and intercultural understanding, democracy, social justice and economic development through education, training, and field projects around the globe.
Gap Year Atlantic is the World Ocean School’s maritime program developed exclusively for students who are interested in spending their interim year at sea. Travel aboard the historic schooner Roseway in a program that consists of community service, sail training, leadership and ethical fitness, and a progressive academic curriculum.
Take part in an international exchange program, and travel to another country while someone from that country gets to see the United States. Choose from countries as diverse as Azerbaijan to Vietnam.