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The Best Gap Year Programs Abroad | Gap Year Options

How do you find the best gap year programs and opportunities after high school? And how do you choose the best one for you? What sorts of scholarships and other funding options are available? Whether you read the news and reviews or you prefer word of mouth, there are many variables that can impact your experience abroad. Knowing what is important can help you narrow down your search and make an informed decision.

Finding the Best High School Gap Year Opportunities for You

best gap year program senegalA quick online search will turn up dozens of different gap year programs, but what exactly makes one gap year program different than any other? Each program has its own pros and cons, offering new experiences and different areas of emphasis. If you’re going to be spending several months of your life exploring a new culture and place, it’s important to find a program that emphasizes what you need. So what makes a gap year program the best one for you? Consider these 6 key factors

Price

The cost of high school gap year opportunities can vary greatly, with some costing upwards of $10,000 for a three month program. Likewise, scholarships and financial aid offerings vary quite a bit. But don't let initial sticker shock deter you from applying. Certain programs and scholarships offer significant financial aid to students and may even cover your full program costs!

Destination

Are you passionate about spending a year in a specific place? If so, look for the gap year programs after high school that offer that destination, keeping in mind, of course, that you're avoiding tourist spots in favor of real life experiences. A gap year is an opportunity to experience life abroad, in a place you’ve never been before and take part in the global community. That’s why you should choose a program that offers a location you want to visit and, especially, be a part of.

What you'll be doing

You may already have a good idea of what you'd like to do during your gap year between high school and college. The best program for you will give you the opportunity to pursue new experiences in an area you're passionate or curious about. Opportunities to learn, to explore, and to be a part of a completely different culture and global community are what elevates gap year programs to something far more rewarding than just a glorified vacation. If you're unsure, read what other gap year participants are doing to get a taste of what is available.

Living situation

How deeply would you like to be immersed into the culture? Living situations in gap year programs can vary from hotels full of tourists to living with local host families. To make the most of your experience, look for gap year programs offering a fully immersive situation where you can truly maximize your time and learn the culture, language and customs around you.

Duration

How long would you like your experience to be? The term “gap year” can sometimes be misleading, because some programs last only a semester or take place over the summer; not all gap year opportunities after high school last a full year. Fortunately, that means that there are a variety of gap year travelling programs to fit your schedule. Look for one that fits with your intended timeline, but also keep in mind that shorter programs might not provide you with as many experiences.

College credit

A gap year doesn't mean you're falling behind a semester or two; it means you'll be better positioned for success when you get to college. Many gap year programs allow you to earn college credits during your experience. Even if college credit isn't an option, you'll maximize your college experience by developing independence, leadership, focus and grit, giving a leg up on the other students before you even step foot on campus.

These categories are the big items you should consider when finding the best high school gap year program for you. But, this is just the beginning of your cultural journey. When deciding on a gap year program, the key is to ask yourself what is important and find the program that best fits those requirements. Start by considering a gap year with Global Citizen Year and discover the most beneficial high school gap year program that may just become one of the best years of your life.

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Sources:
New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/05/your-money/an-often-costly-year-to-bridge-the-gap-between-high-school-and-college.html?_r=0

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