What To Do During A Gap Semester

Wondering what to do with a gap year?

OK, so you’re at least thinking about taking a gap year or semester. But with so many possibilities out there, it can be hard to decide how to spend it! Here are some great ideas for what to do during your gap year, so you can make the most of it.

1) Sign up for a structured gap year program.

Most gap programs offer a structured experience in which you’ll be living, traveling, and/or working with a group of peers under the direction or supervision of one or more leaders. In general, these types of programs are one of the largest possible gap expenses, but they are also a fantastic, time-tested means to a gap experience that is reliably safe and transformative.

Not sure which program is for you? Here are some ideas:


Want to learn to think critically about issues of global development today? Check out Thinking Beyond Borders or Global Citizen Year.

Want to travel to rugged places, live in an authentic homestay, and focus on intercultural exchange? Maybe Carpe Diem Education or Where There Be Dragons are for you.

Are you more of a city dweller who is interested in the arts? Check out Art History Abroad or Up With People.

Want to delve deeply into your relationship with nature to discover your purpose on this planet? Gap at Glen Brook might be perfect for you.

2) Travel.

Have you ever fantasized about living out of a backpack? What about train-hopping from city to city? Working on a coffee farm in South America, or a ranch in the Rockies? Travel as a rite has been a relatively common practice in the Western world for decades. And in 2018, with so many travel-oriented apps right at your fingertips, it’s easier than ever to find information about the places you find yourself in. 

REsources for planning Your Trip:

3) Work and live independently.

Many teens who graduate high school have never lived outside of their family home. A gap year is a great opportunity to give a shot and independent living: that includes all the fun stuff, like cooking for yourself, entertaining friends, planning a garden…and the more challenging stuff, like laundry, chores, working to pay your rent. All that said, the opportunity a gap year affords to live on your own in the “real world” offers a unique chance to grow as a person before starting college. It can also be a great time to try out a new skill via a job or internship, or designate regular time for a hobby, like writing or athletics, before you hit the high-paced college life.

4) Focus on skill acquisition.

Ever wanted to learn a foreign language, but never had the time?

How about a new sport, handicraft, or way of being in the world?

Do you want to learn to build with your hands, to grow your own food, or cook from scratch? (We believe that these skills are essential!)

Would you like to have an internship on your resume before you even get to college?

Your gap time is a unique opportunity to dive into these opportunities to develop your whole person, to become who you’ve been wanting to be. Plus, you can increase your candidacy in the job market (as well as in universities) along the way.

5) Be a couch potato.

…If you really want to. But does the world really need more of that?!


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