Updated 4.29.23 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.
- 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.
- Go Overseas lists over a thousand options all over the globe in a searchable database.
- 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 $8,875 to $18,500. 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) $9,000 per semester for tuition/room/board.
- 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 2023/2024 class is 8,650 EURO ($9,550 USD) for 24 weeks. I’ve heard especially wonderful things about this option!
- Capernwray has two courses available – Winter School and Spring School. If you apply to study for both courses at the same time you will receive a £500 ($623 USD) second-course discount. Visit their term dates page for the details of the planned running schedules for the next few years.
- Timberline has an emphasis on discipleship, lots of outdoor adventure, and urban & international mission trips. (Winter Park, CO). The total cost for the 2023-24 School Year is $14,390 USD. Program fees include registration deposit, classes, room and board, books, internet access, outdoor activities, and adventure trips. Two mission trips are part of the program for all students and included in tuition amount.
- Summit Gap Year prepares 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, and routine facility maintenance). (Pagosa Springs, CO) Full Gap Year Tuition: $23,350. Financial assistance is available.
- HMI Gap (High Mountain Institute) is a semester of rock climbing in Colorado 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.
- 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 $30,970 for 90 days, $13,970 for 40 days, $6,970 for 20 days.
- World Race through Adventures in Missions is a unique missions trip (3 continents over nine months if 17-20 years old, OR 11 countries in 11 months if 21-30 years old 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 $16,900 – $21,715 depending on the route.
- Local churches also offer mission options for gap year programs. Friends have had good experiences with 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 the country and has an emphasis on internships designed to learn skills and work ethic. (Worchester, MA) $32,500 tuition and housing for a year, $17,000 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 ($66 USD), Korea 40,000 won ($30 USD) per night, Switzerland 38-53 Swiss francs ($42-59 USD) per night, Brazil (R$230 = $46 USD/night), England (21-23 pounds/night = $26-29/night), Canada ($35 CAD/night = $26 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-