Student Perspectives on Gap Year Experiences:
“When I was first told I was going to be missing a semester of college, I felt like I was falling behind the rest of my classmates. But now that I am a sophomore, I realize that my fears couldn’t be further from the truth. Traveling through Asia and meeting so many incredible people along the way has not only humbled me, but also provided incredible personal inspiration. After spending a week in Ko Lao, Thailand, building a community center for the displaced Moken People, I was moved to pursue social entrepreneurship, which I am now studying at college. Thanks to the incredible people with whom I both travelled and met along the way, I have realized a passion in life which I am now lucky enough to seek during the next four years.”
From Cody who chose to spend the fall semester with a small, structured program living, volunteering, and traveling in South East Asia.
“It made me realize what my parents have done for me and allowed me to figure things out on my own and gain real life experience. It made the world smaller and at the same time bigger. It was by far the best experience I’ve ever had.”
From Sam who earned money working in his hometown to pay for both a semester with a mountaineering program in India and his airfare to New Zealand where he worked at a ski shop in Wanaka.
“At the end of my gap year, I felt more confident, focused, and ready to handle challenges. I felt that by getting to know myself outside of school, I had a deeper understanding of where I wanted to go and where I needed to be.”
From Taylor who spent a year working with a mountaineering outfit and a rafting company in Moab, Utah; teaching snowboarding at Keystone Ski Resort in Colorado; and waiting tables at a local restaurant in Boulder, Colorado.
“It still surprises me when I remember that this past year has only been just that, one year. In many ways, after all that I have learned and accomplished in the past twelve months, it feels like my life has only just started. I made incredible friends, connected with families in villages I plan to return to in the future, picked up a new language, and learned more about my values and beliefs than in all of my years in high school. Most importantly, I now have an idea about what I am most passionate about and want to pursue in college and even past school. Choosing to take a gap year is incredibly difficult and intimidating because we are used to the predictability of school and following the same paths as our peers. But taking the risk and embracing a year of surprises and uncertainty creates possibilities to learn about yourself and the world.”
From Liza who combined two experiences to fill her gap year involving a rugged immersion program in Indonesia in the fall followed by several months interning with an NGO in Cape Costa, Ghana, West Africa.
“I feel incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunity to travel outside of the United States. I think what made my experiences so special was that I went with a program that emphasized forming relationships with people from the host country. As a result, I learned about the place in a way that I never would have otherwise if I had been there as a typical tourist. In Thailand I was able to attend a local school, visit orphanages, stay overnight at a Buddhist monastery, live with a host family, teach at an English camp, play basketball with Thai school children, and participate in a pre-dawn aerobics class in a park with over fifty middle-aged Thai men and women. All of these experiences opened me up to a new way of understanding the world and my own place in it. Mostly, I realized just how vast the world is and how tiny my little fraction of it is. I would say that in many ways I’ve learned more from traveling than I have from sixteen years of formal education.”
From Emery who spent several months in Thailand with a program that included homestays, travel, and volunteer service.
“The experiences that I gained and the things that I learned about myself were invaluable. It is not a year off; it is a year of life experience and a year to grow. I think if kids have the support of their parents, then they definitely should take advantage of it. If you don’t have the support of your parents and you are still in high school, start working on it…. If you are someone a little young for his/her grade, there is absolutely no reason to rush into college and into the work force where you will be the rest of your life. I think that the opportunity to be able to take time off from a pressured high school and refocus on what is important in life and school has given me a better perspective of the world and the inequities that exist.”
From Connor who spent three months in London, England, working as an intern for the U.S. Embassy in the Economics Department and taught in rural, indigenous communities in Peru and Ecuador, South America.
“I greatly appreciate living in the moment and not wasting time on things that don’t matter. Taking a gap year was the best decision I ever made. I learned more about myself and life than I ever thought possible. I am forever grateful for this gift of time and feel better prepared for the next chapters in my life.”
From Schuyler who combined a rigorous outdoor wilderness program in the South Island with a work placement on a sheep farm in the North Island of New Zealand.
Adult Perspectives on Gap Year Experiences:
“The thought of taking a significant break from my job to pick up and travel the world for almost a year seemed incredibly daunting, yet the desire do it was so strong I knew I couldn’t turn away from the idea. I was at a point in my career where I felt I needed a fresh perspective, not only on my job, but on my life.
It was one of the best decisions I ever made.
Traveling for nine months through Australia, India, Istanbul, England and Iceland afforded me a wonderful first-hand perspective on the world, a perspective not available by simply tuning in to media or browsing glossy photographs. Exotic Australian wildlife, unforgettable conversations with Tibetan monks, incalculably ancient Byzantine stonework, Jane-Austen-style ramblings through the English countryside in Spring, fantastical geologic features erupting from pristine ground–all these were plentiful, mind-expanding wonders encountered along the way.
Standing out amongst these wonders were the people I met in my travels, many who are now life-long friends. They opened to me new ideas, new cultures, new world-views, and an opportunity to share their joys, struggles and life stories which were so different from mine. Every encounter was a learning experience, and an opportunity to share our common humanity, no matter what language, religion or culture.
My time travelling really did open so many windows on the fresh perspective I was seeking. It remains an invaluable treasure permanently nestled in the warm recesses of my heart, there to be drawn upon as I continue to navigate life.”
From Susan C. who after working for 15 years in the same job, traveled for 9 months throughout Australia, India, Turkey, England, and Iceland.
“Africa is my passion. And over my lifetime, a few countries had still eluded and constantly intrigued me. As 60 approached, I felt a sense of “now or never” in terms of choosing and carving out an ideal time. Based on my business calendar and our last child heading off to college, I finally had time to do something for myself and by myself.
As I look back on my two months volunteering in Tanzania and Rwanda in different settings (teaching and women’s economic empowerment), I am grateful to have reaffirmed my ability to travel independently, to problem solve, to learn an uncommon and difficult dialect (Kinyarwanda), to make enduring friendships within two different cultures, and adapt to and overcome both physically and emotionally challenging situations. After having lived for many years comfortably in this country, I was deeply reminded of our high standard of living with the steady flow of electricity and hot and cold water, functional infrastructures, and the many freedoms taken for granted.
Initially, the planning was daunting; the choices overwhelming; and the details cumbersome. I narrowed my options by country, by volunteer service, by program reviews, by in-country staff’s communication, by program cost, by travel logistics, and by the countries’ past and current political volatility. The rest I left to chance. As an “older” adult, I often drew from my range of life skills to cope-problem solving, perspective, humor, and resilience. The gap experience certainly reawakened a latent desire to travel again (after 27 years of parenting and working) to learn about other cultures and myself.”
From Marion T. who after sending the fourth and last child off to college, volunteered with women in Tanzania and Rwanda for two months.
Parent Perspectives on Gap Year Experiences:
“We encouraged our son to take a gap year so he could hit the “pause button” and redirect his learning through life experiences. Initially, he thought it would be awkward to go in a different direction than all his friends heading to college, but once he set out on his journey, he never looked back nor questioned this decision. Allowing more time “to bake” with a gap year, our son gained an array of life tools and skills which include maturity, independence, perspective, appreciation, ability to overcome challenges, knowledge,confidence, and happiness. These experiences acquired from his gap year have not only shaped his character with enduring qualities, but will help with the transition to college and provide a spring board for the rest of his life. He continues to thank us for the amazing opportunities he was able to experience.”
From Sarah a parent whose son spent most of his gap year in New Zealand followed by employment in Colorado.
“We had talked with several people who had taken gap years before college, and not one regretted their experience. All of them said that it was a wonderful, maturing year. We planted the seed in our son’s head during his sophomore year of high school; so by the time he was a senior, it seemed like a reasonable idea to him. By deferring his college acceptance, he was able to focus on getting as much out of the year as possible without the worry of the next step. The combined experiences overseas taught him to become comfortable living on his own away from home as well as to become independent in time management and budgeting. In his freshman year at college, he is much more mature in managing his life than I think he would have been without his experiences in England and South America. Additionally, he has been able to incorporate his gap year experiences into many of his school papers this year, not only enriching the content but also giving him perspective on the value of the gap year.”
From Kathi a parent whose son combined working in England and South America over the course of his gap year.
Parent Perspectives on Taylor The Gap Services:
“Thanks to Marion Taylor and several of her enthusiastic gap year panelists who walked us through the many paths a year between high-school and college could take – South Africa, Peru, Louisiana, and Paris, we suddenly understood the life-long value of such travel. Marion has worked with us and our son to design a Gap Year within our budget and the experiences that were important to us all. Marion’s pre-production questionnaire, personal meetings with our son, and years of experience have made the process of planning a gap year seamless”
From Dale and Susan B., parents of a student who studied Spanish in Argentina, sea kayaked in Baja, and explored the outer islands of Indonesia.
“Marion took on the challenge of helping our daughter structure her gap semester and handled everything with grace and expertise. She swiftly got to know our daughter and her ideas and goals well while hearing and respecting our parental concerns and boundaries. She successfully helped our daughter find several programs that are a great match for her. For us to have tried to do that on our own would have easily been very overwhelming and difficult. We are deeply grateful for Marion’s help and guidance.”
From Currie B., a parent of a student who joined a Shakespeare theater program in England, trekked around Scotland, and studied environmental conservation and climate change in the indigenous communities of Indonesia.
Student Perspectives on Taylor The Gap Services:
“It was such a pleasure to work with Marion on my gap year plan as she efficiently demystified what could have been a very confusing, stressful process. She paid attention to my specific desires and goals and showed me a a wide range of options. Marion used her own experience and knowledge to encourage me to take my gap year somewhere where I had never been before, and her consistent communication, both with me and with the leaders of the programs, made me feel like I was on top of it all.”
From Audrey F., a student who both explored global issues in Bolivia, Peru, and Ecuador and studied Spanish in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
“I knew before graduating high school that I wanted to take a gap year, and I wanted to spend part of that time in Central America to work on my Spanish fluency. I spent months researching various programs, but none of them seemed to fit my own needs, or the needs of my parents. Program after program fell through, either for being unaffordable, or too unsafe. Finally, my family and I decided the best choice was to meet with a gap year advisor. We contacted Marion at Taylor The Gap, told her my plan and our problems, and when we met with her shortly after, she was fully prepared with an array of opportunities! I couldn’t be happier with my decision to take a year off, or to meet with Marion to help me find a safe, affordable program that felt right for me and addressed my parents’ concerns, as well.”
From Rachel T. a student who studied Spanish and taught children in rural Guatemala.
“When I began planning my gap year, I was slow to find and decide on the many gapper programs available today. I am so pleased to have found Taylor the Gap to help me feed through the myriad of options. Marion was a joy to work with. She gave me insight into the structure of programs and put me into direct contact with program directors of prospective opportunities. Without Marion, my gap year would have turned out vastly different than it is today, with programs that I would not have considered without her recommendations. She is eager to work with you, her services are thorough, and she cares to find the right gap year for you. I recommend Taylor the Gap because she is an expert in the field and will connect you to the people you need. Happy gapping!”
From Andrea L. who volunteered in a conservation program in New Zealand, traveled in Southeast Asia, and both worked with women in cottage industries in Katmandu, and trekked in Nepal.
“Marion Taylor knows nearly everything to know about gap years. If you have any anxiety for you or your child’s gap year, she is a great resource and she will steer you in the right direction. After my gap year I have become a more thoughtful and experienced individual. I am now entering college with a new found maturity. I wouldn’t trade my experiences for anything. If you are considering a gap year, it will be one of the best decisions you have made. It’s a must do for any college-bound student.”
From Seth F. who traveled in Southeast Asia, Panama, India, and backpacked independently with a friend in Eastern Europe.
“I came to Marion knowing whole-heartedly I wanted to take a gap year, but not at all sure how to move past few and far between visits to gap year fairs. Marion took time to get to know me well before recommending specific trips and companies based on a best-fit methodology of conversations and questionnaires. She was always easy to reach and aided me with every step, allowing me to balance my gap year planning with school, college applications, standardized tests, and extracurricular activities. By the time I had all my courses set for the year, I felt like a gap year expert thanks to Marion’s terrific work.”
From Brad B. who traveled in Argentina, Baja, and Indonesia.
“Gap years present the amazing problem of containing an infinity of possibilities, which for me, was simultaneously exciting beyond belief and totally overwhelming. I was lucky enough to begin working with Marion early on in my planning process, and it was the best decision I could have made. She walked me through all of my dreams and examined every possibility, giving each the attention and care it deserved as a real opportunity. Throughout the whirlwind of potential experiences, she always remained focused on me as an individual. She delicately picked out the experiences that would allow the most growth, the deepest beauty, the most profound culture, and the greatest adventure for me at this exact moment in time. I know that I would not have found the program I chose without her, and even if I had I would not have made that choice with the confidence and preparation that Marion gave me. And, on top of guiding me to the greatest experience I could imagine, she is a joy to work with and someone I hope to stay in touch with for many years to come.”
From Larkin B. who studied theater in England, trekked in Scotland, and traveled in the outer islands of Indonesia.