It is more common in recent years for students
to consider taking a year out of school after high school graduation
instead of going immediately to college. Some students take the time to
explore another culture. Others use the time learning a new skill or a
second language. Still others do volunteer work.
If you are considering
taking a break, we recommend you go through the process of applying to
college in your senior year, then in May make a deposit at the college
you would like to attend and at the same time request that the college
delay your entry for one year to hold a place for you in the following
year’s freshman class. Colleges look favorably on students who opt for a
year off and in fact, this is becoming a very accepted choice.
Gap Year Programs and Other Interim Opportunities
- AFS (American Field Service)
Intercultural Programs, 198 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10016,
For 50 years, AFS has offered high school students and recent graduates
a choice of full-year, semester, or summer programs abroad.
- AmeriCorps Corporation for National
Service, 1201 New York Ave., Washington, DC 20525, 1-800-94-ACORPS. <www.americorps.org>
A national initiative involving people of all ages in community service
through full- and part-time programs. In exchange for service,
participants receive education awards. The typical time commitment is 10
- City Year, 285 Columbus Ave., Boston,
MA 02116, 1-617-927-2500, <www.city-year.org>
An AmeriCorps program for ages 17 to 23 for a year of community service
and leadership development. Participation includes a weekly stipend and
post-service award that can be used for college tuition or other
opportunities. The first City Year program started in Boston though now
there are programs in ten other cities nationwide (including Chicago,
IL; Cleveland, OH; Columbia, SC; Columbus, OH; Detroit, MI;
Philadelphia, PA; Providence, RI; San Antonio, TX; San Jose, CA; and
Seattle, WA). Of these, Boston has the largest program with over 200
participants each year. The time commitment is 10 months beginning in
either September or January. The program helps participants find local
- The Dynamy Internship Year, 27 Sever
St., Worcester, MA 01609, 1-508-755-2571, <www.dynamy.org>;
A semester or year of education in the form of nine week, full-time
internships in Worcester businesses and organizations. The program fees
include local housing and a three week Outward Bound experience at the
start of the program.
- Earthwatch Institute, 3 Clocktower
Place, Suite 110, Maynard, MA 01754, 1-978-461- 0081,<www.earthwatch.org>.
Founded in 1972, this non-profit organization matches paying volunteers
with scientific and conservation projects around the world. The cost
range is $500 to $3000 depending on distance, length of stay. The
average length of stay is a few weeks to a month.
- Habitat for Humanity, 1-800-HABITAT,
Volunteers build housing for low income families. Typically, volunteers
work for a few days or a week on construction projects at hundreds of
sites around the country. They take volunteers for up to one year at
their headquarters in Americus, GA. There are also international
projects in which people work for two weeks.
- Outward Bound, 100 Mystery Point Rd.,
Garrison, NY 10524-975, 1-800-779-7935, <www.outwardbound.org>
. Outward Bound is a non-profit educational organization offering
challenging outdoor program for nearly 60 years. Programs range from
three weeks to a semester.
- National Outdoor Leadership School
(NOLS), 288 West Main St., Lander, WY 82520, 1-307-332-6973, <www.nols.edu/NOLSHome.html>.
NOLS offers wilderness education expeditions in the United States and
abroad. Programs, ranging from two weeks to a full semester, emphasize
skills mastery and leadership.
- ROCA/YouthSTAR/Youth Service Taking
Action at ROCA (Reach Out to Chelsea Adolescents) 101 Park St., Chelsea,
MA 02150, 1-617-884-5555. An AmeriCorps-funded youth service and
conservation corps targeting high risk youths, ages 16 to 24, for a year
of community service and education. Participants earn a stipend and
- Taking Time Off: Inspiring Stories of
Students Who Enjoyed Successful Breaks From College and How You can Plan
your Own, by Colin Hall and Ron Lieber, New York, Noonday Press,
1996; available at Cary Library and most book stores.
- Advisory List of International Education,
Travel and Exchange Programs
- The Young American’s Scholarship Guide to
Travel and Learning Abroad
- The Teenagers Guide to Study, Travel and
- Travel Abroad magazine
Consulting Businesses that Assist in Planning a
Year Off (all charge a fee)
- Center for Interim Programs, P.O. Box
2347, Cambridge, MA 02238; contact Holly or Cornelius Bull at
617-547-0980 or email (Info@interimprograms.com);
This organization has helped people pursue structured alternatives to
formal education for 20 years. They have a data base of 3500
internships, study, volunteer and apprenticeships, and experiential
learning opportunities around the world.
- Taking Off, P.O. Box 104, Newton
Highlands, MA 02261; contact Gail Reardon at 781-630-1606; or email at
<email@example.com> for more
information. This organization also has a vast database with similar
resources as above for opportunities around the world.
- Time Out Associates, P.O. Box 503,
Milton, MA 02186; contact Bob Gilpin at 617-696-6297 or 698-8977; or
email at (firstname.lastname@example.org)
for more information. This organization also has a vast database with
similar resources as above for opportunities around the world.