We get it. They’re newly popular.
They’re also wildly powerful. Here is why— and how— to make a Gap Year your next step.
But is a Gap Year really for me?
Do you want a break from school? Want to gain some perspective before starting your career? Do you like to learn from experience? Are you looking for more direction in your life? Do you want to push yourself out of your comfort zone? Still trying to figure out your major or career? Are you hoping to gain more confidence? Do you want to learn how to travel? Are you interested in things you can’t learn in a classroom? Are you curious about other cultures? Do you want to give back? Feeling up for an adventure?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, a Gap Year is a great way to give yourself the time, space, and experience you desire. Every student does a gap year for a different reason and what they get from the experience also varies. Despite these differences, all of our alumni are changed college students, new professionals, and citizens/humans as a result of their time with Pacific Discovery.
Why take a Gap Year?
Research shows numerous and important benefits of taking a Gap Year. Based on that data, here are some important reasons to consider a Gap Year with Pacific Discovery.
There are a lot of things to think about in choosing a program. Knowing why you are taking a Gap Year and what you hope to get out of it will help narrow down what programs you consider. Some people make this decision around location, while others look for program structure and types of opportunities (volunteer placements, homestays, adventure activities, or organizational focus). Additionally, factoring in the amount of time you have and what your budget is can help narrow down your options. The American Gap Association offers further resources on gap year planning and features accredited organizations that provide Gap Year Programs.
Once you have a sense of how long you would like to travel for, how much of that time you want to be structured, and what your budget is, you can begin to plan out your gap. Because our programs are 4 and 9 weeks long, there are a lot of creative ways to make Pacific Discovery a part of your experience.
Our semester programs are 9-weeks duration. This leaves some time at the end of our programs to take advantage of an extension option or travel independently before the end of an academic semester.
Our summer and semester programs are designed so that you can combine them to create an incredible Gap Year experience with about a month of independent travel in between your programs. If you want to stretch it out a bit longer, we can help you organize a longer-term volunteer placement, paid employment (depending on where you want to go), or make suggestions for independent travel plans following the semester.
To take a full year, many students choose the following breakdown of their time:
When you are ready to sign up for this great adventure, begin an application here.
If you are a taking a Gap Year in between high school and college, your best route is to apply for schools according to the usual timeline for graduating seniors. Once you choose a school, accept your admissions offer and pay the deposit to your future college or university. From there, contact the admissions office for a deferral. A deferral is an agreement that the college will hold a spot for you and that you will attend campus within the agreed upon timeline (a year or semester later). With that, most deferments mean you cannot apply to other schools during that time. You will also need to check with your college’s admissions office about their policy in regards to earning college credit during your Gap Year if that is something you would like to do.
At Pacific Discovery, we provide you with clear flight instructions, visa details, packing lists, and support in defining your goals for the program. You don’t need to worry about these details just yet. It’s never too early to learn a little about the country you’re going to and you should make sure that you have a Passport valid six months AFTER your final travel dates.
We’d love to connect further to talk with you about any questions you have. See contact us to send an inquiry or give us a call at 1-800-655-3415.
For more information, we recommend the following advisers who work with hundreds of students a year to help them design their perfect Gap Year:
Center for Interim Programs: www.interimprograms.com
En Route Gap Year Consulting: www.enroutegapyear.com
Taylor the Gap: www.taylorthegap.com
“Our son went on the Nepal Tibet program during the fall of 2013. In sum, his experience was terrific. It was a great balance of learning, adventure, challenge and travel in an incredible part of the world. Highly recommended!” Sage had truly amazing and valuable experiences with a very good balance of challenge, adventure, learning, independence and community. Rachel and Scott are so conscientious and dedicated - as parents, my husband and I felt total trust in them and their staff. Like in real life, there were challenges on Sage's trip - the usual stuff (sickness, human dynamics within the group, weather, etc.). But those things were fundamental to the whole experience. All in all, Sage stretched himself and learned a lot. He had amazing experiences he'll tell his children and grandchildren about. He came home with a tremendous sense of accomplishment and more appreciation for home and more understanding of the world beyond home. It was just right for Sage - and set the foundation for this next chapter of his life in a very solid way. I did check out several gap year/gap semester programs when Sage and I were researching his options. We felt Pacific Discovery offered a sort of best of all options for what Sage was looking for and we were really delighted with his experience and its lasting value for him.” Read more Cheryl Tyler Fields, mother of Sage, 2013
“This program was essential to my successful gap year. Meeting everyone for the first time in Auckland will be an unforgettable experience. I remember feeling scared, nervous, and awkward... but so did everyone else.” Seeing how our group dynamics changed by the end of the trip was pretty incredible. We were so close that we still make time to meet up (after the program)! The people I met on this trip will hold a special place in my heart. We went through some challenges, and the best of times. We laughed, cried, sang, and danced together. They are seriously the coolest people I know, and I am so fortunate to have met them! On another note, Pacific Discovery provided me with the chance to fully explore New Zealand and Australia. We went on many adventures and I learned some lifelong skills-- both technical and social. I find myself often wishing I was back on this program!” Read more Nikki Holzman, 2013
“During my senior year of high school I was put into a situation I never imagined would happen to me. I was accepted at my dream school as a February admit. For the first time in my life I had an extended period of free time where I could do anything in the world; and that frightened me.” I knew I wanted to travel to a new place, but not on my own. I discovered Pacific Discovery and knew immediately that this program was the answer I was searching for. From day one it was obvious that this was going to be a life changing experience. We had two amazing, organized, and fun leaders who were ready to push us to get the best cultural experience while also creating friendships. Each day at Pacific Discovery entails a great new adventure. You visit temples, go rock climbing, bathe elephants, bike around ruins, etc. The amount of adventures you have are almost inexplicable, but for me the best part of this program was having these crazy adventures with all of my friends. This program allowed for me to make many lifetime friends that I am still very much in touch with to this day! I cannot recommend this program enough.” Read more Maddie Nunez, 2013