Taking a gap year abroad could help you discover your own academic and personal passions before beginning your college experience. Gap year programs could offer the chance for students to travel the globe before enrolling in postsecondary education. These experiences simultaneously immerse students in a new culture and offer the chance to take college-level academic courses. Students could choose to take classes in business, language, and many more concentrations during their program. Not only could this be a great learning experience, but also a way to get ahead of your studies at your home college or university.
What’s a Gap Year Abroad?
A gap year abroad is typically a one-year break taken by students either before or immediately after going to college. Students could have the chance to go overseas and interact with new cultures and people while they explore a new country. For many, a gap year is a chance to have a study abroad experience without interrupting their school schedule. Since students usually take a gap year before or after entering school, they may not have to miss out on valuable classes in order to travel.
In addition, a gap year abroad might also be a chance to learn more about your academic passions before signing up for classes. For example, students opting for a gap year abroad might find themselves learning more about their strengths, professional goals, and desired area of study. By volunteering in a developing country, you may discover an interest for public health, social work, or foreign policy. Or, you might find that environmentalism or preservation is a potential career path for you after exploring local habitats. When you return home with this knowledge, you might have a clearer idea of which college concentrations you would like to apply for.
So, when your parents ask, “what is a gap year?” the answer is simple. It’s a time for you to grow both personally and academically before continuing your education.
Common Gap Year Questions
- Where could I live during my gap year? Students typically live on campus or with a host family. Campus based programs often offer dorm housing for students when they’re not traveling. Alternatively, you could have the chance to live with a local family. This could be a great way to immerse yourself fully in the culture.
- Could I travel? Of course! Besides your own travel, many gap year programs offer planned excursions for students. These trips may make traveling easier because they may supply preplanned transportation and accommodations.
- When could I take my gap year? When’s a good time for you? In all seriousness, gap year programs are offered year-round. Many students choose to apply in the fall much like they would an academic program. But, program starts are offered in the spring, summer, and winter as well.
- Who could I be working with? Students just like you! Students from around the globe take part in gap years. Even though you might be staying in one country, you could hear about many more when hanging out with your new peers.
Why Take a Gap Year Abroad?
For some students, a gap year may serve as a chance to mature and experience life. And, to help them decide about their next step in education!
By the time you graduate high school, you may have been attending school for twelve years straight. Between your classes, extracurricular activities, social life, and personal obligations, there may not have been a lot of time for self-discovery. This may make the choice of a future college and degree program difficult. Volunteering, learning, or immersing yourself in another culture could newly inform your world view. Then afterwards, you could bring those experiences with you into your postsecondary education.
So, if you’re looking to take a gap year abroad, it might be time to ask yourself some serious questions. Like, “what are my strengths?” or, “what are my goals?” Answering these might help you choose a gap year program that could help you develop as a student and as a person.
Gap Year Options
There’s plenty of gap year options to pursue abroad that could line up with your personal goals. Or, if you’re not looking for a specific area of study or service, you could instead choose a country that has piqued your interest.
Below are few programs you could choose that could make a gap year abroad program perfect for you.
Picking a Country
Many countries throughout the globe offer gap year programs. Typically, they’re offered in major cities so that students could easily travel throughout the country while living there. Because exploring your chosen country is half the adventure!
Why not consider studying in one of the following countries?
Programs offered vary by country. For more information, speak with a representative from your chosen program.
Intensive Language Programs
In addition to offering a cultural experience, many gap year programs also offer language courses for students. This could be a great way for students who wish to pursue language studies in college to hone their knowledge. Or, it could just be a great way to pick up a new language!
Usually, gap year programs offer intensive language programs in the primary language of the country you’re staying in. For example, if you’re living in France they would offer French. Or, depending on where you’re at in China, you could study Mandarin or Cantonese.
Some gap year programs are designed to help students tackle college level coursework before enrolling. Many program offer basic courses in a variety of majors for students to try out. This could be a great way to test out a few college concentrations that might interest you. Or, maybe even get ahead in your studies. And, it might take away some of the stress out of your freshmen year of college.
For example, you could pursue some of the following concentrations during your gap year abroad.
- International Studies
- Marine Biology
Courses offered differ by program. Be sure to speak with your intended school for a complete list of classes.
Colleges & Gap Years
Some schools may view a gap year as a valuable opportunity for students to explore their passions, gain some perspective, and develop personal maturity before beginning college. In fact, some colleges may even encourage gap years or offer gap year programs geared toward earning potential course credit.
Often, students interested in taking a gap year abroad apply to prospective colleges as high school seniors. Then, they may request to defer their admissions while abroad. Alternatively, some students may decide to apply to colleges after their gap year is complete. Or, they may take a gap year abroad as a break in the middle of their degree program. Ultimately, the decision is up to you. However, you may find it helpful to discuss your plans with your high school guidance counselor or college admissions officers.
Finding Your Gap Year Abroad Program
Now it’s time to start the hunt for a gap year abroad program that is perfect for you. Begin by browsing the links of this page to see some potential programs. Or, you could use the menus on this page to select your preferred gap year term, country, or specialty. Only looking for programs in China? Then you could refine the list to only programs in that area. Good luck find a perfect gap year abroad program!