How to Choose the Best Gap Year Program After High School

Gap year programs are one of the best ways to gain both life experience and useful skills for college applications and future careers. The biggest challenge for a lot of people can be knowing where to find the information necessary to organize and plan a gap year after high school. Many people don’t even know how or where to start looking.

So, how do you find the best gap year programs and opportunities for 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 to find the best gap year programs that fit your personality and interests.



A quick online search will turn up dozens of different gap year programs, but what exactly makes one gap year program different from any other? Each program has its own pros and cons that offer 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, and what you want to get out of your gap year. So what makes a gap year program the best one for you? Consider these 6 key factors for finding the best gap year programs:



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, and don’t let the cost scare you into not pursuing the best gap year programs. Gap year opportunities should be available to everyone, so certain programs and scholarships offer significant financial aid to students — and they may even cover your full program costs!



Perhaps the biggest draw for a gap year is the potential to live in a country which you have always dreamed of visiting. 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. The best gap year programs are 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 about or curious about. Opportunities to learn, to explore, and to be a part of a completely different culture and the global community is what elevates gap year programs to something far more rewarding than just a glorified vacation or “time off of school.” If you’re unsure, read what other gap year participants are doing to get a taste of what is available. These kinds of “a day in the life” readings and blog posts can give you a sample of what your life would be like. You can even look at reviews and alumni experience so you can evaluate their experience and hear all the good and challenging parts of the program.


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. The best gap year programs after high school offer a fully immersive situation where you can truly maximize your time and learn the culture, language and customs around you. This is dependent on your preference, but you’ll have to consider what is most important to you to make it a gap year you won’t forget.



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 or need to be if you don’t want to be away that long!

Fortunately, that means that there is a variety of gap year traveling 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 or give you the ability to master a language if that’s what your goal is.


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, with more experience and a new sense of maturity. As such, it’s always worth taking part in, even if you cannot get college credit for it. However, many gap year programs and colleges do 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 you 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 the best gap year programs, the key is to ask yourself what is the most important to you, and then 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 and an experience that you will never forget!

Sources: New York Times:



What should I do in my gap year before college?

Entering a gap year program abroad after high school and before college is a good way to:

  • Experience a new culture
  • Learn about a local trade or industry
  • Learn a new language
  • Make a new network of friends
  • Gain leadership skills


What are gap year programs?

A gap year program is typically a year-long break between high school and college, where a graduated student takes time off to work, volunteer, and/or travel.


Where should I go for a gap year after high school?

When deciding where to go on a gap year, the key is to ask yourself what is the most important to you. The best gap year programs before college will fit those requirements.


Can you still get scholarships if you take a gap year?

Yes! In fact, it may even give you a leg up on other applicants.


What does gap year program mean?

Gap year programs provide the opportunity to gain both life experience and useful skills for college applications through international travel. They provide and assist with formulating relationships around the world so you can have jobs, service and housing already set up for you so you don’t have to set up your gap year program on your own.


What is a gap year?

A gap year is traditionally the name given to a pause in education, taken after high school and before college.


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