Organizations exist for every type of gap year experience, from cultural immersion through volunteering, wilderness travel, certification courses, and leadership development. Their programs may be a few weeks or an entire year to fit yourneeds.
Keep in mind that this is a rapidly expanding market, so do your research to ensure that any program you choose has been around for a while and knows what they are doing.
are designed to provide meaningful experiences, build your resume, and even
sometimes earn college credit. The good ones will also have community and
government connections developed through years of operation which will provide
opportunities that may not be open to independent individuals. Programs will
also assist with logistics and travel, which can be quite complicated.
will be less freedom. Many programs will require that you agree to certain
codes of conduct. So if you have visions of going wild during your gap
experience, think again. There’s also the cost to consider. Most programs
provide a lot, so they charge a lot. Be sure it’s in your budget.
through an organization to help set up your gap year experience is the most
common option chosen for students taking this route. There are loads of
programs out there — so many that one is bound to meet your needs.
on a Program If…You
have the funds to pay, and want to get the most out of a gap experience (as
well as have someone else take care of the logistics).
Winging it is a possibility, but only if you are willing to take the bull by the horns.
Nobody is going to check that you have the proper travel documents and vaccinations. Nobody is going to award you college credit, or provide an introduction to your volunteer organization, or give you a crash course on survival Swahili. Nope, that’s all up to you.
and flexibility. Don’t like working in a specific place? Move on. Oh, and you won’t be paying anyone to set
stuff up for you. Doing some unstructured travel, such as backpacking or
finding a freelance job or working full-time or part-time are great options.
You are going to have to arrange for every detail of your experience, from
travel to housing to work to food. Are you ready for that?
your idea is for your gap year, you may decide to organize it on your own. Very independent of you, just know what you are getting into.
on Winging It If…You
have a very specific goal, itinerary, or responsibility in mind and you excel
at hammering out the details and holding yourself accountable. Sometimes it's
good to be spontaneous in life anyways. #yolo