Updated 3.15.18 Have you considered a Gap Year? More and more students and their families are seeing the advantage of taking one. I have been increasingly impressed with research that shows how taking a year after high school to explore new things, grow and develop as a person, clarify direction, and renew commitment to academic studies can lead to greater engagement in college, greater employability, and greater satisfaction in careers after college.
Most commonly a gap year is taken the year after high school, but programs are offered for those of all ages after high school. Taking a gap year is a wonderful opportunity to try something new, have an incredible cross cultural experience, and/or deepen your faith.
The American Gap Association does a good job of summarizing much of the data and benefits. Since I don’t personally have experience with any gap year programs, over the last six months I’ve been seeking input from colleagues and friends about programs they recommend and have received a range of recommendations of cross cultural, faith-based, and adventure-oriented options. My awesome administrative assistants Hayley and Carri have pulled together some details on each of them that we want to share with you today. Of course, you will want to research yourself to see which one is best for you or your student, but hopefully this small sampling will give you a vision for the vast array of options out there.
Cross Cultural Options
- Global Citizen Year offers a “Bridge Year” focused on immersion (8 months living with a family, having a local job), language (Spanish, French, Portuguese, or Hindi), networking (training & team meetings), and life-skills (independence, leadership, focus, grit). They offer options in Brazil, Ecuador, Senegal, and India, and the cost ranges from $500 to $32,500 determined by financial need. They also offer merit-based scholarships.
- Thinking Beyond Borders:
- Global Gap Year visits 5 countries in 7 months and is specifically designed for students who are passionate about learning and are eager to create meaningful social change in the world. $31,000 tuition and $5,000 (may vary) for airfare.
- Latin American Gap Semester is designed to explore solutions to global issues and includes travel over thirteen weeks to three countries (Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica), daily Spanish language classes & immersion, living with host families, fieldwork with local experts, academic study, and a guided trek to Machu Picchu. $13,300 tuition and $1,750 (may vary) for airfare.
- AFS USA provides recent high school grads the ability to live with a host family and attend a local high school abroad for a year or semester while participating in community service programs – they match a local project to personal interests/skills. (Many Countries) Costs from $3,170 to $16,210. There are both need-based and merit-based scholarships available for these programs.
- Kanakuk’s Link Year is a 9-month program of Biblical Teaching, Discipleship, and World Travel with a 4-week study abroad program designed to develop the student’s identity in the Word while being given “the tools to paint the vision of their future.” (Branson, MO) $7,500 per semester for tuition/room/board.
- New Life Ranch’s “The Bridge” program prepares high school graduates (18-20 years of age) for a life of effective leadership for Christ through spiritual formation, service learning, and practical life skills in a biblical community. (Colcord, OK) $10,999 for the 9-month program – room/board/travel – additional tuition of $390 per credit hour payable to John Brown University.
- SCORE International is a 9-month program designed for 18-25 year old young adults to study the Bible and learn Spanish by immersion. (Costa Rica & the Dominican Republic) for approximately $10,500 per year.
- TorchBearers has many 1 year Bible Schools around the world that people rave about – three to consider are:
- Bodenseehof has a 6-month Bible School and discipleship program in English with students from around the world. (German/Austria/Swiss border). Tuition for the 2018/2019 class is 6,850 euros ($8,434 USD) for 24 weeks, while tuition for the 2019/2020 class is 7,000 euros ($8,618 USD). I’ve heard especially wonderful things about this option!
- Capernwray offers 10 month, 7 month, or 3 month programs to equip students for service in the church worldwide through biblical teaching and practical training while studying with up to 180 students (from high school age to retirement age) from more than 20 countries. (England) 8,350 pounds ($11,535 USD) for 10 month, 6,400 pounds ($8,841 USD) for 7 month, 2,270 pounds ($3,136 USD) for 3 month in 2018, and 2,895 pounds ($3,999) for 2019.
- Timberline has an emphasis on discipleship, lots of outdoor adventure, and urban & international mission trips. (Winter Park, CO). Class fees, room and board, and misc fees are $10,574, and mission trips (local, urban, and cross-cultural) cost $2,000.
- Summit Ministries offers two options:
- Summit Semester is a 12-week program whose goal is to prepare students for college while motivating them to be leaders for the glory of God and the good of society with everyone on-site having daily responsibilities (like meal preparation, cleaning, routine facility maintenance). (Pagosa Springs, CO) $11,495 for 12 weeks. Financial assistance is available.
- Summit Oxford/Oxford Study Centre is a “sister organization led by long-time Summit faculty member Kevin Bywater. Kevin operates an outstanding program that gives students the opportunity to live and learn at Oxford University.” It offers an academic focus and three terms to choose from – it’s for anyone who wants to study a subject in depth and learn deeper methods for applying their Christian faith in the world. (England) In 2017 it was $18,900 for a 4-month term and $9,995 for the 3-month summer term.
- HMI Gap (High Mountain Institute) is a semester of rock climbing in Utah and Patagonia designed to develop life skills, intellectual maturity, effective leadership, and preparedness to succeed in college and beyond. (Utah, Chile, and Argentina) $14,900 per semester tuition/room/board, $8,900 summer term. HMI offers both need-based financial aid and merit-based scholarships.
- Visitoz places young people in rural and outback jobs in remote Australia and requires a “willingness to get their hands dirty.” (Australia). Programs range from 3-12 months. The full year program costs $2,450, with the potential to take him $22,000 in earnings. The 4-month program costs $1,799, with the potential to take home $6,000 in earnings.
- SeaMester offers programs from 20-90 days with students living full-time on a boat sailing from island to island with an emphasis on outstanding educational experiences, cooperative living, and adventure travel. (Sarasota, FL) cost varies depending on voyage length and destination; around $27,370 for 90 days, $12,000 for 40 days, $5,770 for 20 days.
- World Race through Adventures in Missions is a unique missions trip (3 continents over nine months if 18-20 years old, OR 11 countries in 11 months if 21-35 years old) that challenges young adults to abandon worldly possessions and a traditional lifestyle in exchange for an understanding that it’s not about you; it’s about the Kingdom. Around $15,800 – $19,300 depending on the route.
- Youth for Christ offers international missions opportunities in over 135 nations to give every young person an opportunity to be a follower of Jesus Christ. Approximately $5,000 for 6-8 weeks and $10,000-$20,000 for 6-12 months
- Many local churches offer missions options for gap year programs. Two options friends have had good experiences with are:
- Henderson Hills Baptist Church in Edmond, OK, has several programs for missions: Gap Year program (between sophomore and junior year of college), 3 month stint (apart from summer), General Stint (1-18 months), Summer Sojourner – the purpose of all of them is to share the gospel.
- GUTS Church in Tulsa, OK, offers an internship with “intense ministry training” where “becoming comfortable is never an option.”
Hybrid Practical Life Skills Options
- Dynamy Internship Year is the oldest and only residential internship program in country and has an emphasis on internships designed to learn skills and work ethic. (Worchester, MA) $29,400 tuition and housing for a year, $15,450 tuition and housing for a semester.
- L’Abri Fellowship offers institutes all over the world with terms lasting typically 2-3 months that include individual Bible study (no set courses of study) and helping with practical work (cooking, cleaning, gardening, etc.). Australia $100/week ($70 USD), Korea 40,000 won ($35 USD) per night, Switzerland 30-45 Swiss francs ($30-45 USD) per night, Brazil (R$55-50 = $32-29 USD/night), England (18-20 pounds/night = $25-28/night), Canada ($30 CAD/night = $23 USD/night).
I encourage you to research all of these on your own to see what might work best for you, and there are MANY other options out there! I’d love to hear what you discover or if you have a gap year program you would recommend.
To your success-