Where Do I Start? A Complete Gap Year Planner

Taking a gap year has become almost a rite of passage for young people across the world. As travel has grown easier and more accessible, it has become increasingly common to take the opportunity to not only experience new countries and cultures, but to broaden your mind and gain more empathy for other life experiences through taking a gap year.

But even so, you may find yourself still unsure of how to go about planning for a gap year. What do you need to know, and how do you even get started? To help you out, we have put together a complete gap year planner. While you will still have a lot to do, and some decisions to make, this gap year planner should point you in the right direction for how you can get started.

A Complete Gap Year Planner

When Are You Going to Take Your Gap Year?

This is the first, and arguably most important, decision you will have to make. Taking a gap year will require taking time away from your traditional, in-classroom education or whatever else you have going on in your “normal” life. While there is technically nothing from stopping you from taking a year away to travel at any time in your life, the best time to go on a gap year trip is usually after high school and before college.

This is because you are at a time in your life that is naturally transitional, and not only will this allow you to augment — rather than interrupt — your education, but it will provide you with a coming of age adventure that will prepare you for college like no other can. That is why Global Citizen Year’s gap year programs are for students at this specific stage in life.

Where Do You Want to Go?

Once you have decided that you are going to enter a gap year program after high school, another big decision will be choosing where you want to go. There will be a lot of different things that go into that decision, and it is largely personal. However, there are some questions that you can ask in order to direct your thought process.

  • Do you know any languages? While you will not be required to know a language before you go, perhaps you are already fluent, or at least confident in a language that you might like to learn better.
  • Would you like to learn a language? Alternatively, is there a language that you have always wanted to learn, but never had the chance before? The opportunity to learn a new language is can be one of the best things about a gap year experience.
  • Do you have an interest in a certain culture? Certain food? A new language is not the only thing that you may have the chance to experience on your trip. Perhaps you have always been fascinated by a certain country or culture — maybe you are a fan of music from there or famous countryside or landmarks. Maybe there’s a certain kind of food or dance that you want to try. These should perhaps not be the most important reasons for deciding, but can certainly play a role.
  • Is there somewhere you have always wanted to travel? It’s a simple question, but it might end up being the most important. At the end of the day this is a once in a lifetime opportunity, so think long and hard about where you want to go.

Global Citizen Year gives you the option to travel to Brazil, Ecuador, India, or Senegal, and you can take our destination quiz to get a better idea of which country you should select.

The Application Process

So now it’s time to start the application process. This might seem like the scariest part of the gap year experience, but with Global Citizen Year, the admissions process is quite easy.

Online application The best thing about our process is that you can apply online. You don’t have to worry about sending your transcript or taking a test, all you have to do is to fill out our online application, and then hit ‘send’! The initial application process should take you one or two hours maximum.

Interview Once you have submitted your application, we move our strongest candidates to an interview. You will talk to either a staff member or Global Citizen Year alum. This will give you a chance to share more about your life and ask whatever questions you have — in many ways the interview is as much for you as it is for us!

Decision After your interview, it should be about one to two weeks before you hear from us with our decision.

Final review After you have been accepted, you will then have a few more steps to take before being fully ready to go. You will have to: Select your destination

  • Select your destination
  • Submit a financial aid application (if you are applying for aid)
  • Visit a doctor, complete a medical form, and get medically cleared for the program

After that, all you have to do is send your deposit and you’ll be getting ready to go in no time!

Get Ready!

So now you’re all set! Your application is accepted, your financial aid is in place, your country is selected, and all you have to do is go on your gap year adventure. While you are planning for the trip of your life, there may be some other things that you will have to do to get completely ready.

First, you will want to start learning the primary language of your destination. As mentioned, you do not have to know any of the language before you apply, but if you take a gap year with Global Citizen Year, we will send you Rosetta Stone so that you can start learning the basics in the summer before you go. And then during your first couple of months abroad you will have intensive language training, followed by weekly tutoring. One of the best things about a gap year is the opportunity it gives you to learn a language while fully integrated with those who speak it natively.

Another thing that you may be worried about is packing for your trip. And no wonder — there are few things that sound more intimidating than trying to get properly ready for an eight month trip abroad. Luckily, we have put together the ultimate international travel checklist for you, to help you know exactly what you need to do. Global Citizen Year alums and others in your cohort will also be excellent resources.

This experience will be unlike anything else you have ever known. As such it can be difficult — not to mention daunting — when it comes to preparing for it. Hopefully this guide has given you some guidance and a good launching pad for taking a gap year. The only thing left for you to do is get started!

Gap Year Resources