Gap Year & Summer

Deciding whether to attend college directly after high school is a choice that many students and their parents make without considering any alternatives. But Tish believes that the counselor’s primary role is to help each student make an informed choice, and so she has compiled a library of resources on gap year experiences, starting with this selection. Many of these organizations offer short-term programs that are appropriate for high school students during summer break.

The University of Hong Kong The University of Hong Kong

American Gap Association is a new accreditation board that screens the programs of participating organizations.

Brad McGowen, counseling guru at Newton North High School in Massachusetts has vetted this information:

Interim Programs, a gap year resource bureau –

University of Milan, Italy University of Milan, Italy

AFS offers language study, homestay, and community service projects in many parts of the world during summer, as well as gap year and high school year programs.

Carpe Diem, seize the day! offers semester-length programs that combine some language study, plus homestay, with community service projects and travel. Affiliated with Portland (OR) State U.

CIEE, Council on International Educational Exchange has been sending university students and educators abroad since just after World War II, and more recently this well-established NGO has developed high school and gap year abroad programs that feature home stay and enrollment in selected high schools. CIEE does not believe a summer is sufficient to acquire proficiency in a language, so its shorter offerings are more limited.

Oxford University, England Oxford University, England

The Rotary Youth Exchange program has been functioning for 75 years in 80 countries, completely through the club’s network of volunteers. Applicants need a local club to sponsor them, and the student pays for airfare, health insurance, and visas, but the Rotary Club supplies room and board and $50-100 a month in spending money.

National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC), a residential program for 18-24 year olds with campuses in Colorado, California, Maryland, and Iowa is modeled after the Civilian Conservation Corps of the 1930s. Volunteers move from project to project and from state to state—doing everything from helping the American Red Cross with hurricane relief efforts, to building low-income housing with Habitat for Humanity, to helping combat soil erosion with the U.S. Forest Service. They get trained in CPR and first aid, and a bird’s eye view of the environmental, education, and public safety non-profits that serve as partners. The website also offers many other volunteer programs that pay a living allowance and up to $5,000 toward college tuition when the student completes the program and enrolls.

City Year National Service City Year National Service

City Year –

Youth Services Corps – full time community service in cities – mentoring & tutoring school children, reclaiming public spaces, organizing after school programs – etc.

The Student Conservation Association is another branch of AmeriCorps program, with similar benefits (living allowance and earnings accumulated for college), and a focus on nature and the environment.

World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms - offers immersion in agriculture, an experience of how food is produced that will forever alter trips to the supermarket.

Teens can volunteer through Cross Cultural Solutions - in various parts of the world and projects in need of staffing.

Dynamy Internship year –
Residential internship program in Worcester, Mass.

School Year Abroad - Spain School Year Abroad - Spain

“Be the change you wish to see” in 126 countries. “Intense work and study experiences abroad are complemented with contemplative learning retreats at our Northern California campus that serve to teach students how to wholeheartedly participate in the world and live passionately without leaving any parts of themselves out – mind, body, spirit, soul, emotion.” LEAPNOW –

Rustic Pathways (“Creating positive energy” is its motto) places a strong focus on student travel, adding community service projects (turtle conservation in Costa Rica) and language tutoring to a fun mix.

Thinking Beyond Borders –
TBB takes 16 high school grads around the world in 8 months to study “global development issues from social, political, and economical perspectives.”

Center for Cross-cultural Study has created Spanish language study programs for college students since 1969. Now affiliated with dozens of US colleges (Lewis & Clark, U Maryland, Union College, NY)

These relatively low-fee foreign experiences (France, Spain, Germany, Mexico) include home stays (great for learning language)

El Casal –
Spanish language, internships, travel in Barcelona, Spain

Sojourns Abroad – Programs in Sienna, Barcelona and Paris – service, homestays, language, travel.