Are you thinking about taking a gap year? Looking for a fun and transformative experience but don’t know what to do? Don’t worry we are here to help with many incredible gap year ideas! We have created a list of the best gap year ideas to help guide you in making the right choice.
Before we jump right into our gap year ideas, we need to first define: what is a gap year and how does it work?
What is a gap year?
A gap year is usually a rite of passage from adolescence to adulthood. Instead of going straight to college, high school graduates take the time to explore not only the world around them but themselves as well. That being said, gap years are not limited to only high school graduates. Anyone can take a gap year! This is a time for you. There is never a wrong time to take a gap year. If you’re not sure if it’s the right time to take a gap year, you can read more about gap year pros and cons – but if you are wondering “is a gap year a good idea?” The answer is most likely yes!
Many people picture gap years as programs where you spend a lot of money, volunteer to build a school, or teach English abroad, but the truth is your gap year can be anything and be anywhere. The possibilities are endless. Do you want to backpack through Senegal? Go for it! Would you like to swim on the beautiful beaches of Brazil? Why not? You can even travel around your home country and learn new things about its history.
It should be noted that gap years are not always a full year. Some gap years may be a semester or only a few weeks. It is up to you! You get to design your experience in a way that fits your needs. As you are learning about many different gap year ideas, remember that this is your journey!
So now that you know what a gap year is, you might be wondering “why should I take a gap year?” Taking a gap year can be an invaluable experience. Here are some of the key benefits of taking a gap year.
What Are The Benefits of Taking a Gap Year?
A gap year can be a transformative experience for many students during this explorational time in their life. Through gap year programs like Global Citizen Year, young people can broaden their horizons and learn more about themselves, the world, and the impact they want to make.
Some gap year ideas to consider before college are to travel to other countries, learn about different cultures, serve communities in need, learn new languages, and broaden your understanding of the world around you.
Many individuals that have taken a gap year have found that new perspectives bring new ideas that can help inform decisions about their future path. These decisions could be about education, career opportunities, interests, skills, or newfound talents. Having more time to explore yourself and the world around you will give you the opportunity to reflect on what your priorities are, and will likely lead to more success and satisfaction in the future.
For example, studies show that students who have chosen to do a gap year right after high school are more likely to graduate in four or less years. Whereas the U.S. national average of college graduates is around six years! A gap year can assist students in finding out who they truly are and what they value in life.
A gap year is a life-changing opportunity to learn, grow, and explore outside of the traditional classroom. But don’t mistake a gap year for just a “year-off” or an extended vacation. The best gap years are full of transformative opportunities and challenges. Living in a different country, volunteering for a cause, and developing new skills are just some of the ways you can grow on a gap year. Future employers, professors, and mentors highly value individuals who have demonstrated the confidence to get out of their comfort zone – that’s where we learn and grow the most! Life experiences, personal growth, and leadership skills are a few of the many benefits of gap year programs like Global Citizen Year.
Different Kinds of Gap Year Ideas
- Virtual: A virtual gap year is done online, such as a remote internship, volunteering, learning, and teaching. With the new technology based world we live in today, virtual learning and experiences can be just as valuable as in person ones.
- Immersive: An immersive gap year is a total immersion in a new culture and language. This type of gap year is very hands-on. Some may travel to other countries or states, learn new languages, adventure, and study academics of some sort.
- Independent: An independent gap year is when the individual takes it upon themselves to find experiential learning and experiences. This is not done through a program or organization, instead it is controlled by the student themselves.
GAP YEAR IDEAS FOR HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS
Have you ever wanted to live on a farm in another country? Maybe you dreamed of living in India or hiking the beautiful mountains of Ecuador. Well, all of these dreams are possible through Willing Workers of Organic Farmers (WWOOF)! This gap year idea allows you to take a gap week, month, semester, or year at an organic farm on any continent. WWoofers live and work alongside their host family and experience life as an organic farmer BUT WWoofers are not limited to the farm. They are free to explore the area and experience the culture around them as well! Ready to get your hands dirty and wwoof? You can find more information about WWoof here.
Interrailing has been a gap year staple since the dawn of gap years. Young adults with wide eyes and adventurous hearts take on the mission to travel to Europe and take a train across the continent. Interrailing can be as short as 1 week or go on for years. Interrailing is a great opportunity to make new friends and form deep connections during your physical and internal journey. According to the Interrail website, there are over 40,000 destinations in 30 countries. Where is your next stop?
Semester at Sea
Gap year ideas shouldn’t be limited to land. The ocean is just as vast and dynamic. Imagine seeing whales during your leisure time or listening to dolphins while you sleep. That could become your reality at Semester at Sea. The ocean is your classroom. With Semester at Sea, students receive an education that is not only global but accredited as well. This may not exactly be a gap year but you will not be learning in a typical classroom. So, what are you waiting for? The ocean awaits…
Have you thought about taking care of bears in Cambodia? Or taking part in coral conservation in Belize? Pod Volunteer is an award-winning nonprofit that allows its participants to volunteer abroad in various countries around the world. Pod volunteers work side by side with local organizations to directly impact the surrounding community. Volunteers are also given the option to focus on any area of your choice. Whether it’s animals, conservation, community building, etc. This is a fun idea for a gap year and a great opportunity to find your passion or hobby! What community would you like to join?
Global Citizen Year Programs
This program combines many benefits of the gap year ideas listed above! When you join The Fellowship, Global Citizen Year will place you in a cohort of diverse peers, who you will get to know and network with as you go through your incredible journey together. You will get to select from one of three potential destinations for a transformative 8 month experience, as you live, work, and immerse yourself in the local community.
This is a 12-week leadership experience filled with learned leadership skills, networking opportunities, and experience to put on your college applications or future job resumes. This program is delivered virtually and it equips students worldwide with the much needed skills for a lifetime of social impact. At 4 hours per week, the Academy empowers students to define their purpose and drive meaningful change in their communities and the world.
We at Global Citizen Year aim to provide many different gap year ideas to young adults graduating high school and trying to find adventure before college. Global Citizen Year allows you to have a gap year that is tailored to you specifically, and helps you to gain leadership skills, networking opportunities, and experience to put on your college applications or future job resumes. What are you waiting for?
There are so many incredible gap year ideas to choose from. This is YOUR time. Go out and experience the world!
EXPERIENCE A DAY IN THE LIFE OF
A GLOBAL CITIZEN YEAR FELLOW
Fellow / Ecuador
— Anna del Savio
I work with a group of indigenous artisans that make fair trade jewelry.…
Fellow / Brazil
— Amari Leigh
After my community garden apprenticeship, I like to hang out at the local waterfall with my friends.…
Fellow / Brazil
— Basil Wiering
I often hail a rickshaw into various parts of the city to meet friends and practice street photography.…
Fellow / Brazil
— Fernanda Tornell
I've developed my public speaking skills and encouraged hundreds of people to take care of our planet.…
Fellow / India
— Luciana Ribeiro da Silva
I apprentice with Teach For India and also volunteer with a non-profit working to end child marriage.…
Fellow / Ecuador
— Noah Hapke
I co-teach English classes at the school in my community.…
Fellow / Brazil
— Sarah Murray
My apprenticeship is at a school for people with disabilities where I help to lead gardening, games, and capoeira.…
Fellow / India
— Alana Poole
In the afternoons, I often go on home visits to meet my students' families and understand where they come from.…