Alternative Routes To A College Degree – GAP Year

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Alternative Routes To A College Degree – GAP Year

Want to take a GAP year?

There are many opportunities for students who wish to attend college but who need a longer transition than the traditional summer break between high school and college. Taking a year to travel, study abroad, volunteer, or work are just a few of the many things high school graduates can do before entering college. The preferred term for the time between high school and college is termed the GAP year.

Taking a break between high school and college is a great idea for some students.  Research has shown that students tend to be more mature and are ready and eager to start college when starting after a GAP year. It is usually advisable for students who wish to take a GAP year to apply to college during their senior year of high school, deposit at a college, and defer for a year. Check with your college for permission and details.

WEB Resources for GAP Exploration

Below is a partial list of websites where GAP students can find activities of interest. I advise all parents to thoroughly research these programs, and any programs of interest, including calling the Better Business Bureau. 

General Information Sites


ServeNet is a division of Youth Service America (YSA) where volunteers are matched with service opportunities according to location, skills, interests, and availability.

Study Overseas

Study Overseas is a web site offering free advice and information on overseas programs.

Study Abroad

Study abroad is a web site offering similar resources as above with a more comprehensive directory of programs.

Specific Volunteer and Service Programs


At AmeriCorps, participants address community need in the areas of education, public safety, human services, and the environment. They also receive a stipend, health insurance and a financial award up to $4,725 for a year of full-time service to be used for further education.

AFS Intercultural Exchange

AFS Intercultural Exchange is one of the largest community-based volunteer organizations, AFS seeks to build a more just and peaceful world through international student exchange. More than 10,000 students, young adults and teachers participate in AFS each year.

Habitat for Humanity International

Habitat for Humanity International is a nondenominational Christian housing organization that welcomes all people to build simple, decent and affordable housing in partnership with those in need of shelter.

Experiential Learning Programs (Tuition/Fees Required)

Outward Bound

Outward Bound specializes in activities and programs in adventure and outdoor education are held throughout the U.S. and Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.

Audubon Expedition Institute

Audubon Expedition Institute is located at Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts; AEI specializes in experimental educational opportunities in ecological leadership.

Windsor Mountain

Windsor Mountain is historically known for experiential learning, it has introduced half-year and full-year programs for those between high school and college. There is a choice of one or two 16-week programs that combine travel, volunteering, internships and other options.


If you have any other questions about selecting a college, or the admissions process, feel free to contact me through my website at or call me at 760.877.7200. I’d love to answer your questions!

Andrea K. Frimmer, M. Ed.
Prep 4 College Now, Inc.


Resource: Fundamentals of College Admission Counseling by NACAC, National Association for College Admission Counseling

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