"Year Off," Interim Year, and Post-Graduate Year Programs

A gap year is something a student may take before deciding to head off to college. Students choose gap years because they are unsure about their decision to attend college all together, because they are not certain about a major or career path, or because they want to save up money before attending college full time. Below is a list of gap year programs and volunteer programs that they may interest you.

Generally, students who decide to take a year off before going to college usually don't end up going to college. There are, however, circumstances in which an interim year or "year off" can be helpful.

Another between high school and college option is something called the Post-Graduate (PG) year. A "Grade 13" is designed primarily to help students develop the skills they need to be ready for the academic demands of college. A good PG program can help with social maturity as well. A PG year should not be viewed as a fast track to the Ivy Leagues. As in any post-high school decision, do your homework and spend some time on campus. Costs can vary dramatically and some schools offer generous financial aid packages.

Gap Year Opportunities

Americorps 800-942-2677
Intensive national service programs assisting national, state, or local organizations. Projects vary to meet community needs, but may include tutoring students, caring for seniors, helping the homeless, building homes, restoring parks, or training other volunteers. Full and part time positions available across the United States.

AFS (American Field Service) 212-352-9810
AFS is an international, voluntary, non-governmental, non-profit organization that provides intercultural learning opportunities to help people develop the knowledge, skills and understanding needed to create a more just and peaceful world. AFS provides intercultural learning and volunteer opportunities for students, young adults, teachers and families through international exchange. AFS exchange programs are offered in more than 50 countries.

Audubon Expedition Institute 888-287-2234
Experientially based, environmentally focused, collaborative and practical, these courses are for self-motivated students who have a passion for the environment. Students live outdoors and encounter diverse people and ideas.

City Year 617-927-2500
A national youth organization that provides services to US cities like Boston, Chicago, Detroit, New York, San Antonio, and Washington D.C. City Year corps members serve as tutors, mentors and role models to help students stay on track – and get back on track – to graduate through school-based service, youth leadership programs and community transformation.

Dynamy 508-755-2571
A yearlong program that gives internship opportunities to recent high school graduates. Each participant experiences three full-time nine-week internships, chosen from over 200 possibilities in a wide range of fields. Interns work with their advisor and internship sponsors to ensure a balance of responsibilites and benefits to the organizations.

Global Service Corps 415-788-3666
GSC has been a leader in the field of international volunteerism designing and implementing effective community development volunteer service-learning programs in Africa and Asia since 1993. GSC community training and development programs are offered year round, from two weeks to one year, in HIV/AIDS Education and Prevention, Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security, International Public Health, Cultural & Buddhist Immersion, Orphanage Care, and Teach English Abroad.

Habitat for Humanity
A nonprofit, ecumenical Christian ministry founded on the conviction that every man, woman and child should have a decent, safe and affordable place to live. Many programs are available for teenagers interested in making a difference in their community.

International Cultural Adventures 888-339-0460
These programs are especially suited for students seeking to gain valuable life experiences and acquire new perspectives on their lives, the world they live in, and their place in it. Of particular interest is the Cultural Immersion Experience (CIE), a comprehensive program offering participants a uniquely intimate and profound intercultural experience through home stays, cultural seminars, language training, educational excursions, village visits, adventure trekking, community service, and more.

National Outdoor Leadership School 800-710-NOLS
Founded in 1965 by legendary mountaineer Paul Petzoldt, NOLS--a not for profit educational institution--takes people of all ages on remote wilderness expeditions, teaching technical outdoor skills, leadership, and environmental ethics in some of the world’s wildest and most awe-inspiring classrooms. With courses ranging from 10 days to a full academic year, these programs are great for highly motivated students who want to learn how to lead.

Outward Bound 866-467-7651
Outward Bound is a non-profit educational organization that serves people of all ages and backgrounds through active learning expeditions that inspire character development, self-discovery, and service both in and out of the classroom. Outward Bound delivers programs using unfamiliar settings as a way for participants across the country to experience adventure and challenge in a way that helps students realize they can do more than they thought possible.

The Sea Education Association 800-552-3633
By coming to SEA, students are given a multidisciplinary view of the oceans during a 12-week program that takes place half on shore and half at sea. The program begins in Woods Hole, one of the world’s great centers for ocean research. Students study the chemistry, biology, physics, and geology of the oceans and design their own research project that they will carry out at sea. After six weeks on shore, students will be prepared and eager to go to sea. Participants will join one of the 135-foot vessels, either in the Atlantic/Caribbean or in the Pacific. Stand watch as part of the shipboard community of 35 for research, hands-on learning, and teamwork opportunities.