Gap Year Resources & Monthly Open House
Gap Year Fairs
LEAPNOW staff regularly present information about LEAPNOW at Gap Year and alternative education events throughout the United States. It is often possible to schedule interviews for our programs with LEAPNOW staff at these events, if some lead time is given. If you want to connect with LEAPNOW staff at a fair, call our office at 707-431-7265 to see if we're attending the fair in your area.
The 2017 cycle of fairs ran during January and February at 30+ locations throughout the U.S. and is now complete. The next fairs will run in early 2018 and fair locations will include PA, NY, NJ, CT, NH, MA, ME, VT, IL, CO, VA, MD, DC, OR, WA, Vancouver, BC, and 8 fairs in northern and southern California. Venue details for specific fairs can be found at the USA Gap Year Fairs website.
What IS a GAP YEAR? One definition is "a post-high school year of self-exploration and personal growth that leads to clearer direction and motivation for your life and for college study. A Gap Year may include travel, cultural immersion, directed study, service or conservation projects, internship opportunities, work and more." A Gap Year is a chance for you to direct your own learning, and align with yourself before doing more traditional classroom education. It is also a chance to fill in the gaps that are created in us by spending 12 years of our lives learning less than actively in a classroom. Some of these gaps include:
- losing touch with our physical body;
- thinking that education is something that is done TO us, rather than something that we direct ourselves and that comes through us;
- losing touch with the joy inherent in learning;
- losing touch with a sense of life purpose or relevance;
- forgetting that we can determine our own best learning environment;
- forgetting that we are capable, or never learning that we have tremendous gifts to offer the world.
LEAPNOW offers substantial resources that you can access to create an incredible year of "out-of-the-box learning:
Students in the UK, Australia, and Canada commonly take time off between high school and college to gain real-life experience through travel, language immersion, community service and conservation programs, outdoor adventure, and professional internships. After completing high school there is a natural "gap" that a young adult can take advantage of - though a gap year or semester can occur at any point during your educational process (which ideally last as long as your lifetime!) Students in the U.S. are beginning to understand the value of taking time "on" before continuing on with college. To read one student's gap year experience, visit this article in Lamorinda Weekly.
As Gwyeth T. Smith Jr. puts it in this article in the Washington Post:
"Parents of high school seniors across the country have hired me as an admissions consultant. They want assurances that their children will be attending top colleges a year from now.
Again and again, I say: "I hope not."
To their surprise, I explain that I'd rather see most of these young men and women far from a campus for a while. I urge them to bus tables in a restaurant, apprentice for an architect or pull weeds on a community farm. In their free time, I add, they should devour a stack of great books."
Harvard's Dean and Director of Admissions writes about the importance of Gap Years in his article Time Out or Burn Out for the Next Generation.
"Perhaps the best way of all to get the full benefit of a 'time-off' is to postpone entrance to college for a year. For nearly forty years, Harvard has recommended this option, indeed proposing it in the letter of admission.... The results have been uniformly positive. Harvard's daily student newspaper, The Crimson, reported (5/19/2000) that students who had taken a year off found the experience 'so valuable that they would advise all Harvard students to consider it.'"
Gap Year Program with LEAPNOW
LEAPYEAR, which starts in
January or September, is designed to be an ideal Gap Year, and offers guided and solo
travel, structured and unstructured experience, inner and outer
exploration, an amazing group of peers, and a full curriculum to help you know yourself
deeply. Perhaps best of all is the fact that you
receive a full year of college credit through
Naropa University - allowing you to take
time "on" without having to take time "off." A
further year of unlimited internships is built into LEAPYEAR
with access to our full database of 6,700+ options in 126
To further extend a Gap Year, each LEAPYEAR includes a full year of internship placements once the program has been completed. You can also choose work or travel in the fall followed by LEAPYEAR starting in January.
Why take a Gap Year?
Primary reasons to take a Gap Year:
- Take a break from one way of learning (in rows under fluorescent lights listening to someone talk in a classroom) before doing another four years of classroom work. A chance to break the educational trance that tells us that education is something that happens “to” us, rather than through us.
- Find a valid and personal reason to be in college – beyond the fact that “everyone else is doing it.” To know who you are and what you love before you undertake college. College is too expensive not to know what you are doing there.
- Try on a career option before making a commitment to a major in college - practice teaching in Ghana before studying education, or work in a medical clinic in Honduras before committing to pre-med study and med school, study art in a hands-on way in central Mexico to see if it's something you want to spend more time/money/study on.
- To leave home and do something real rather than contrived – step out from under your parents roof, and learn to be in the world as an adult before doing further classroom study.
- To become more mature, make mistakes, let the well fill back up, rekindle your desire to learn.
- To put your education in the context of the larger world - to gain worldly experience - to take on responsibility and give something back to others.
- To do something developmentally appropriate: When you are 18 and have spent 12 years in a classroom, it is entirely appropriate to learn for a time in a different mode. It's appropriate to find out who you are, and explore parts of the world. If you simply replace your family with a college that houses you and feeds you and asks you to jump through its hoops, you are simply replacing your parents with parental surrogates - and a vital maturation that wants to happen at this time is much less likely to happen. "There are certain harvests that never come again if they are not gathered in season." David Whyte
Ideally, Gap Year programs should give you a break from learning in the classroom, engage your mind, body and spirit fully, and allow you to explore and develop interests that you may not have had a chance to experience. Though each Gap Year program will be different, important tips for putting together a successful Gap Year include:
- The following natural blocks of time give a good structure to gap year travel: September through early December, a holiday return home, January through March, April through June.
- Pay attention to transitions. You are most vulnerable during transitions. Pay extra to have someone meet you at the airport you fly into. Make sure you have a backup plan – such as a hotel near the airport to check into if you miss your connection.
- Consider starting with a group program - so that you have support if you are traveling abroad for the first time, and support during the inevitable homesickness and culture shock. Start with more structure at the beginning, and less at the end - so that you can develop initiative and independence.
- To save money, you can stay in the U.S. or this hemisphere - to keep transportation costs down. Stringing a series of internships together in one region will keep airfares to a minimum. Consider working where you can legally work for pay - in the U.S., UK, or Australia. You can usually receive room and board in exchange for your work, if you work in the areas of social service, teaching, agriculture, construction or hotel work. You can also build in a period of work in the U.S. to earn money for your next adventure.
- Consider starting in a foreign country with a period of language study - to get your feet on the ground, and get oriented to the culture before engaging more deeply. Plan on two weeks and up if you are brushing up a language, a month or longer of intensive study if you need to gain enough proficiency to get around comfortably. Add a homestay so that you meet their culture on their terms and are forced to practice the language you are learning.
Why use LEAPNOW to take a Gap Year?
- Experience: LEAPNOW has been setting up gap years for students since 1994 and has assisted over 1,700 students with consultation, internships and group travel over the past 19 years.
- Depth of support: LEAPNOW provides a full spectrum of support in our full year structured program. This is the only year-long program we know of that offers international travel, academic credit, a full curriculum of inner exploration and integrated rites of passage.
- Academic credit: The curriculum is well-integrated into the LEAPYEAR program, allowing you to earn credit during your gap year or facilitate high school completion while learning outside of the classroom.
- Holistic Experience: LEAPNOW focuses more on the wholeness of the individual than any other program we know of.
- Deep Resources: We have a database of over 6,700 intern and volunteer options in 126 countries.
With our full-year structured and challenging LEAPYEAR program including our wide variety of Internships, LEAPNOW can help you make the most of your gap year!
Monthly Online Open House
A comprehensive Introduction to LEAPYEAR is held regularly by video call at least once per month. These one hour calls are offered by LEAPNOW staff members and are an opportunity to learn about LEAPYEAR, ask questions, and get to know us in a more interactive way. The content is tailored to the needs of those who attend. You can drop in and leave as you wish - no need to RSVP. If you find yourself in the Bay Area, please feel free to call us to schedule a time to drop by our campus to meet us and learn more about LEAPYEAR.
Summer 2017 Online Open Houses: (Pacific Daylight Time)
Thursday, September 14 Noon (with Sam Bull, LEAPYEAR Co-Founder)
You can also connect by phone with audio only: Dial: +1 408 638 0968 (US Toll) or +1 646 558 8656 (US Toll) and enter Meeting ID: 729 092 2530
That's all there is to it!
In-Person Interviews for LEAPYEAR outside of California:
Each prospective LEAPYEAR student must have an in-person interview with one of our staff. These are generally held at our campus in California, but can also be done when staff travel to other parts of the country. These sessions may also be attended by people who haven't yet completed a LEAPYEAR application, but who wish to learn more about the program. We currently don't have plans to travel to other parts of the country during the summer of 2017, but check back here from time to time, as that may change. Please call our office to coordinate your interview.