Alternatives to College – Gap and Service Programs

Many students choose to take a Gap Year between high school and college, but what does a Gap Year really mean and how do colleges view them?  

Loosely defined, a Gap-Year is a time period taken off between high school and college meant to explore a career path through interning or work,  to study and learn in a new environment or abroad, or to volunteer with a service organization at home or abroad.

It is highly recommended that students who are considering a Gap Year should follow the normal college application process during their senior year and, once accepted, work with each individual college or university to apply for a deferred enrollment.

NACAC, the National Association for College Admissions Counseling, offers a starting point for researching Gap Years. Click here for more information.

As with any type of “program”, there is a myriad of choices, from for-profit travel groups, to government and non-profit service programs, to paid-consultants and sites to help you design your own Gap Year.

Non-Profit and Goverment-based programs:

Americorps (includes Americorps, Vistacorps and FEMA Corps)

City Year


United Planet

American Gap Association

Student Conservation Organization

For-Profit resources:

Gap Year Fairs


Center for Interim Programs

Universities with Gap Year Deferral programs or their own Gap Year programs



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