College Counseling

Gap Year Information

What is a Gap Year?
The gap year concept, which is already very common overseas, is growing in popularity among US high school students. It provides students a chance to pursue other interests and experiences before they embark on their college career. Most colleges wholeheartedly embrace the gap year model since they find students who take a year off prior to enrolling bring a richer, more energetic, and engaged presence to their college communities. For students who feel their high school years were filled with pressure, stress, and little "down time," this time out also provides an opportunity to recharge from burn-out. Although a gap year is not appealing or right for all students, the benefits are many. They include gaining confidence, focus, maturity, a renewed sense of purpose, and a renewed enthusiasm for learning as well as experiences that help bridge the gap between real world and formal classroom education.
How does the college process fit into my possible interest in taking a gap year?
Students interested in pursuing a gap year typically apply to college during their senior year. Once admitted they submit an enrollment deposit to the college of their choice and then request a one-year deferral, indicating what they plan to do during the time off. Typically, colleges will grant the deferral as long as the student is not planning to pursue traditional academic studies at another institution.
What types of activities can I pursue during a gap year?
The possibilities are truly boundless! The resources listed on the GDS website are simply a sampling of the myriad opportunities that are available. They include formal programs such as City Year and Dynamy to activities such as organic farming and international service projects. A good old-fashioned job is also always a worthwhile option, as well.

For More Information
A Gap Year can provide students a chance to pursue other interests and experiences before they embark on their college career. Please talk with your college counselor for more information.

Gap Year Programs

List of 48 items.

  • The Aegean Center for the Arts

    Study art in Greece and Italy. Courses are offered in two semester-long sessions per year and include painting, drawing, photography, printmaking, creative writing, art history, literature and singing.


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  • Africa & Asia Venture (AV)

    Africa & Asia Venture (AV) specializes in gap year and short-break volunteering programs in the developing world for those aged 18 to 25. AV's first group of volunteers set off in September 1994 and in the 18 years since more than 5,500 young people from 30+ countries have followed in their footsteps, together contributing over 1,200 man-years of service to the communities in which AV works.
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  • African Leadership Academy: Gap Year

    Students spend a year on ALA’s campus in South Africa, studying alongside other African students. The purpose of this gap year is to learn how to make positive impacts on communities in need. During their stay, students will design and implement their own service projects.
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  • Americorps NCCC

    Team-based residential program aimed at participants ages 18–24. Participants live in a campus environment and participate in service projects in communities across the country. Members receive a living allowance and an education award upon successful completion of the program.

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  • American Field Service

    One of the world’s oldest, most well-established international student exchange organizations, AFS also offers community service programs for high school graduates in several different countries.

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  • American University's Gap Program

    AMERICAN UNIVERSITY’S GAP PROGRAM offers a life adventure in our nation’s capital to provide focus and build skills to prepare you for college and career success. AU Gap is designed for students who have finished high school and are taking a year off before college. Students are admitted on a rolling basis and can enroll in program for either the fall or spring semesters, or both. Earn seven credits per semester from American University for an internship experience (3 days/week) and a classroom seminar (2 days/week).  For more information on the AU Gap Program, please visit
  • The BAEF Scholar’s Program

    The British American Educational Foundation. Students study in England for a full year after high school graduation, while living in an English boarding house.
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  • Brethren Volunteer Service

    Faith-based volunteer service with placements for recent high school grads around the United States. Participants receive a small stipend with room and board.

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  • City Year

    The City Service Youth Service Corps unites over 1,400 young people for a year of full-time community service, leadership development, and civic engagement. Members can be placed in one of 19 U.S. locations or in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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  • Council for International Educational Exchange

    College-bound high school graduates spend an academic semester or year staying with a family abroad. Participants do language study, volunteer in the community, or intern as English instructors. CIEE offers Gap Year programs in Chile, China, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, France, Japan, and Spain.

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  • Dynamy


    A non-profit organization that offers nine month long residential program/internships in a variety of sectors - internships range from working with the American Red Cross to working in a French-style patisserie.

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  • Earth Watch

    Work with leading environmental researchers around the world on issues varying from climate change to coral reef health.

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  • Earthwise Living Foundation

    Live and work in New Zealand. Internships can last anywhere from 4 to 20 weeks and can vary depending on participant’s interests (photography, real estate, conservation, etc). Depending on participant’s budget, different accommodations are available from homestays to apartments. Complimentary bicycle upon arrival.

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  • El Casal

    This program in Barcelona combines seminars in Spanish language with travel, outdoor activities, internships, and community service.

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  • Frontier Nursing: The Courier Program

    The Courier Program provides opportunity for young people to shadow healthcare professionals in rural Appalachia for a period of 1 to 3 months. Must be at least 18 years old and have a valid driver’s license and a vehicle.

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  • Global Citizen Year

    Global Citizen Year is a premier global bridge year program designed to unleash the potential of the next generation of young Americans as authentic leaders and effective agents of change.
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  • Global Learning Across Borders

    Through international cultural immersion and community service programs, Global LAB seeks to educate and inspire young people to become responsible global citizens in their own communities and beyond. Program locations include Greece, Morocco, and the Himalayas.

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  • Global Routes

    Teach school and work with local leaders on various community projects in Kenya. Finish the semester on a safari in the Masai Mara! Gap-year students may also go on three-month placements teaching abroad while staying with a host family. Programs are in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.


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  • Global Service Corps

    Non-profit group that specializes in overseas volunteer programs and internships in Thailand, Cambodia and Tanzania. Programs include Volunteer Vacations, 2-week introductions to Service Learning, 4-6 week short term volunteer abroad assignments and 9-week to 6–month International Internships and volunteer assignments.

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  • Global Vision International

    Volunteers assist in conservation and education projects ranging from teaching literacy and English to indigenous communities in Latin America to wildlife research and conservation in Africa. Programs can range anywhere from 2 weeks to a year.

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  • Global Works

    Community service-based adventure travel programs for students and groups. In all of our locations, we partner with communities and organizations to select and implement grassroots service projects that make an impact.
  • Habitat for Humanity

  • Himalayan Gap Year

    Students choose from 5 core modules which provide an immersion into the cultural and ecological environment of the Himalaya: adventure & ecotourism, volunteering with children, sustainability internships, culture & language, and spiritual journeys.
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  • Involvement Volunteers

    Has volunteer placements in more than 30 countries worldwide.

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  • John Hall Venice

    An eight-week (January-March) introductory course on art history. Students will begin the course in London, then go on to travel/live in Venice, Florence, and Rome. A very popular course, so apply early.


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    Based in Jerusalem, KIVUNIM focuses on understanding the history and contemporary life of international Jewish communities while developing an appreciation of other cultures. The program is structured around international field trips every fix-six weeks to countries such as Greece, Bulgaria, Morocco, Spain, Turkey, Hungary, and India.
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    Participants spend a group semester period in Asia or Latin America, which is followed by a solo internship in one of 126 countries. Earning college credit is a possibility.

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  • Magic Carpet Rides

    Program begins with a home-stay in Guatemala, expanding to El Salvador, Honduras, and Belize. Program stresses cultural immersion, language study, and community service.

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  • Marchutz School of Art

    A semester art program in the South of France which includes a 5-day museum study in Paris, a 5-day sculpture workshop in Giverny, a 10-day painting excursion to Venice, and site-visits in the surrounding countryside of Provence. No previous experience in studio art required. Housing is generally provided by French host families.


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  • Masa

    Program enables thousands of Jewish youth to spend a semester or a year in Israel in any of more than 160 programs.

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  • National Outdoor Leadership School

    Program offers a variety of outdoor courses of varying durations (anywhere from two weeks to one year). Programs range from horseback riding in the Rockies to backpacking in Scandinavia.


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  • Partnership for Service Learning (IPSL)

    Program offers 12-week programs in Ecuador, Italy, and Thailand. Includes intensive language study, community service placements with orientation and support. Room and board provided.

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  • Projects Abroad

    Volunteers can choose from a variety of placements in teaching, care, conservation, medical, journalism, or work experience projects across five continents. Placements are flexible, most volunteers going for between two and four months.

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  • Rustic Pathways

    Offers gap year programs to over 17 countries worldwide. Programs include working in turtle conservation in Costa Rica, to skiing in New Zealand, to going on photo expeditions in the Kalahari. Program length varies.

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  • SAGE Program

    The SAGE Program offers either an academic gap semester/year, or the opportunity to do volunteer work for 2- to 8-week periods. Programs take place in the Himalayas and South India, with an emphasis on community work and independent service projects.

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  • School Year Abroad

    A secondary-level program which allows students to live with a European or Asian family for an entire academic year while earning U.S. graduation credits and preparing for selective U.S. colleges. Program focuses strongly on home stays and an academic program that emphasizes foreign language acquisition.
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  • Sojourns Abroad

    Semester styled programs in Siena and Paris that include language study, home-stay accommodation, art history, and outdoor excursions.

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  • Student Conservation Association

    Student Conservation Association (SCA) opportunities in a variety of fields and locations, ranging from team-based programs to individual internships in fields ranging from climate change to habitat restoration to environmental education.
  • Thinking Beyond Borders

    A 35-week program that involves taking 16 graduated high school students around the world to study global development issues from social, political, and economical perspectives. Students will spend five weeks in each of four Core Countries working with local NGOs and building personal relationships with the local people and culture.

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  • Vermont Youth Conservation Corps (VYCC)

    For 29 summers, the VYCC has offered residential service opportunities to youth and young adults seeking meaningful conservation experiences. Our Venture gap program is a twenty week residential program that runs from June 30th through November 14th on the Farm at VYCC. Our program model is: small teams, well-trained leaders, and diverse crews working to complete projects that benefit the community. 
  • Volunteers for Peace

    Volunteers do a variety of work depending on the needs of the community – this can vary from historic preservation, to sustainable agriculture, to working in an orphanage. Duration is from 2 weeks (short-term projects) to 6 months. Participants can choose from hundreds of work sites in many countries.

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  • Where There Be Dragons

    Program organizes small-group “learning adventures” in Asia, Latin American, and Africa. Gap Year programs run for three months and, depending on the region, can focus on environmental diversity, modern political movements, and traditional arts.


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  • Woolman Semester

    A Quaker-based sixteen-week program that immerses students in peace studies, social justice, and sustainable living on a 230-acre rural campus in Northern California.
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  • World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF)

    WWOOF enables people to live and volunteer on a variety of organic properties. Volunteers (WWOOFers) help on the land and home for 4-6 hours a day and hosts provide the food and accommodation. If you want to have hands on experience, learn and share organic and sustainable ways of living then WWOOF might be for you.
  • Yachad Gap Year

    Yachad Gap Year gives you the opportunity to have the ultimate immersion experience in Israel, by participating in Israeli mechina programs with Israelis your age. The word Yachad means “together,” and as a participant, your Israel experience will be more up-close and personal than any other – because you’ll be doing it together with your Israeli peers.

    The word mechina means “preparation.” When young Israelis want to take a gap year after high school, to learn more about their culture, society, and their Jewish identity, they can participate in one of 40 mechina programs. And just as Israelis use their mechina experience to launch them into elite units and leadership positions in the IDF, you can use your mechina experience to enhance your resume and improve your standing in university admissions.
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  • Young Judaea

    Year course program organized in three semesters, each in a different and distinct location in Israel and each including academic study, Hebrew language Ulpan and engaging with/contributing to Israeli society through intensive volunteering. “Specialty tracks” ranging from athletics to fashion to culinary arts are also available.
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  • Youth for Understanding International Exchange

    A non-profit group that offers students the chance to work or study abroad in year, semester, or summer programs.

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  • Youth International

    Offers 12-week long programs where teams of 14 explore three different countries in one region of the world (Asia, South America, or Africa). Programs focus on inter-cultural exchange, volunteer work, home-stays, and outdoor adventure.

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4200 Davenport Street, NW, Washington, DC 20016

Georgetown Day School is a coed, preK-12, non-sectarian private school in Washington, DC with small class sizes and a diverse school community. Our comprehensive, innovative curriculum includes hands-on learning, honors and AP classes, as well as advanced-level math and STEM courses. An education is not just college prep and SAT scores. GDS teachers focus on providing the best education for each child, from elementary grades through high school. The school performing arts program includes theater, dance, and music. The athletics program offers competitive sports for student athletes, including cross-country, track, soccer, lacrosse, and crew/rowing. With our strong commitment to financial aid, an independent school tuition is affordable.