Gap year programs are offered worldwide and are available to eligible students who either reside in the country or outside of the country. Depending on the program chosen, some students can receive a stipend or covered living expenses if they are studying in a different location or country. Other programs can be done locally, requiring little travel on the student’s part but still providing an enriching experience for the student. Some of the most popular gap year programs are competitive and take a lot of discipline and extracurricular activities in order to qualify, though this isn’t the case for every program.
When deciding on a gap year program, students need to focus on what they want to get out of the program. Do they want to gain work experience? Learn about something new? Network and meet new people? A combination of all these? Most students don’t realize how many programs there actually are in the United States and beyond. Thousands of gap year programs exist across the globe, its merely up to the student to pinpoint and research the programs they are most interested in. Some of these programs can be free or cost upwards of $10,000 maybe even more. Doing research beforehand and deciding on a program before your gap year will give you some time to put money aside and save.
There are websites that provide lists of different gap year programs and a short summary of the types of programs the organization offers. There are all different types of programs ranging from hiking a winter summit and pushing your body to the limits and testing your comfort zone to show you what you are capable of, traveling the United states by road trip and stopping at a variety of locations and well known tourist attractions and interviewing industry leaders, to spending a month at sea, learning about marine life and conservation. The possibilities are endless and the more travel that is included in the trip, the higher the cost.
I cannot stress enough the importance of planning ahead and obtaining a financial buffer. These gap years are life changing and not being able to participate in one of the programs due to financial constraints isn’t fair to you and shouldn’t even be a reason. Apply for grants, save your money, cut corners where you can and apply for financial aid. The financial stress now will be worth it during the gap year of your life; make it happen.
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