Student Perspectives on Gap Year Experiences

“My gap year will help me so much in college. I’ve been through the independence-shock, the loneliness scare, the ‘something in my life is missing,what do I do? anxiety. I can’t wait to funnel all my attention and passion into my classes and clubs and grow myself into the individual I know I can become. Taking a year off of structured school really excites you to start studying again. All of these are things I would have NEVER said straight out of high school”

From Melanie who spent her gap year in Panama, Costa Rica, and France with a variety of gap programs and independently.

“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.”

From Cody who spent the fall semester with a structured gap program 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.

“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, 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 gap experiences involving a rugged immersion program in Indonesia in the fall followed by an internship in Cape Costa, Ghana, West Africa.

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”

From Connor who interned in London, England, for the U.S. Embassy and taught in indigenous communities in Peru and Ecuador, South America.

“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.