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What is A Gap Year?

What’s a gap year? It’s an opportunity to get to know what’s out there before you make decisions about your future education and career path. It’s more time to work on that project you’ve been putting off while studying. It’s a chance to learn about the real world outside the four walls of a classroom. It’s a way for you to get out of comfort zone and find out more about your own natural aptitudes. It’s your shot at seeing the world before choosing where you’d like to settle down for the next few years and make some long-term progress. 

Maybe you don’t agree with precisely any of these definitions of a gap year. That’s okay. The exact meaning of a gap year is probably a little different for everyone. In whichever way you define a gap year, most gap year students would agree that it’s a chance to design your own year of learning, achievement, impact, and life experience, away from more traditionally structured school and work systems. 

Benefits of A Gap Year

More and more traditional academic institutions are endorsing the many benefits of a gap year. Harvard, famously, sends out letters to students after accepting them for admission advising their parents to rather consider postponing their child’s education and encouraging them to take a gap year before college. Harvard’s official reason for doing this is that they believe today’s students are under far too much pressure and that greatness comes not from imitating others but from knowing yourself, following your interests, and playing to your own unique strengths. Taking a gap year allows high school graduates to build on all three of these success factors. 

Should I Take A Gap Year?

If you’re super excited about taking a gap year, but still have some doubts the gap year statistics study conducted by The American Gap Association, might help you make your decision. It showed that about 85% of students who take a gap year recommend it to others, 88% of those who took a gap year after high school who planned to go to a specific college, did, and 89% of those who took a gap year during college returned to college, and 86% of gap year students were satisfied or very satisfied with their jobs. They also found that the majority of students taking a gap year do so after high school and before college. A much smaller part of the group take their gap year during college and an even tinier portion take their gap year after completing graduate school or after college. 

How To Take A Gap Year

Hopefully, we’ve been able to show you that the pros of a gap year outweigh any cons you might have heard about. Now, we’d also attend to your question of how exactly it will be possible for you to take a gap year. 

Many students ask how they can fund their gap year. Check our scholarships page to find out if we can offer you a gap year scholarship. You can also raise funds for your gap year by using the GVI fundraising platform. The second question many students ask is ‘How can I apply for a gap year when I’ve already been accepted to a college?’ You can apply to your admissions office to postpone your enrolment for a year. 

GVI offers runs gap year travel programs including volunteer and internship programs in Cambodia, Costa Rica, Fiji, Ghana, Greece, India, Laos, Mexico, Nepal, Peru, Seychelles, South Africa, Thailand, Madagascar and Belize.

You won’t be short on gap year ideas if you choose a GVI gap year program. Focuses for our programs include everything from marine and wildlife conservation to global public health and education, as well as women’s empowerment, and business in the service of social impact. 

If you’ve already found the perfect gap year program for you, perfect! Complete a quick application for a GVI gap year program. If not, you can browse and find gap year programs here. To download our gap year guide, visit our brochures page.

What To Do In A Gap Year

The American Gap Association study found that the number of activities undertaken on a gap year is positively correlated to the satisfaction students report after taking their gap year. In other words, the more activities you’re able to squeeze into a gap year, the more fulfilled you’ll feel at the end of it. This makes sense, after all the last thing you’d want to be is bored on a gap year. 

If you’re looking for inspiration planning your gap year, why not take a leaf out of Malia Obama’s book. She’s perhaps the most famous student in recent memory to take a gap year and did so before attending Harvard. During her gap year, Malia travelled to volunteer abroad, completed an internship, and spent time with her family. With GVI you do all do all of these things, you can travel to volunteer or intern abroad. 

When you’re looking to plan your gap year, first make a list of all the things you’d like to try during your gap year, and then do some research about the available gap year options. After you have an idea about time and budget constraints, you can start being more selective about your gap year ideas (after all, there are only 365 days in a year) and whether you’d need to consider a gap year work program before travelling, volunteering or interning.

Gap Year Ideas

On the lookout for cool and usual gap year ideas? What could be a better idea than solving some of the world’s biggest problems while exploring remote locations? 

All GVI gap year programs, including volunteering and internships, are aligned to one or more of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. In all our work we operate according to the most recently agreed upon ethical best practices in the field of international sustainable development. 

Some of our exciting locations include a tiny Fijian island, where you can complete a gap year research program while contributing to local marine conservation initiatives and earning PADI professional diving certifications, or a nationally protected, pristine Seychellois island where you can help a team of international conservation researchers conduct studies of giant Alandra tortoises, sicklefin lemon sharks, mangroves, and Coco De Mer palms. 

And if you’re still stuck on gap year ideas, might we recommend the never-disappointing gap year experience of volunteering with endangered sea turtles in Costa Rica, Greece, Seychelles, or Thailand, or endangered Asian elephants in the hilled forests of Northern Thailand. Our Thailand elephant program is also one of our most affordable gap year programs. 

Please note that our ethical animal handling and captivity policy means that touching animals will only be allowed when aligned to the proven conservation value of the project and if it is in the interest of the health of the animal.

Gap Year Travel

Thinking of taking a gap year abroad? You aren’t alone. 85% of the gap year students who participated in the The American Gap Association study said that the reason they were looking to take a gap year is because they wanted to travel, see the world, and experience other cultures. 

But with so many places to see, and only a limited time to see them in, where is the best place to travel on a gap year? Usually there is one region or country that has been calling out to you for years. You don’t exactly know why, but you have to experience it for yourself. We’d recommend trusting your instincts, and then to follow this up with research to check your expectations of the location. You can read about the experiences of gap year students who have visited locations in which we run program on our blog or you can speak to one of our enrolment managers who are experienced in knowing what it’s like on the ground. 

With GVI, you can join a gap year program in Africa, Southeast Asia, South and Central American, Europe, and Australasia. Choose to volunteer or intern abroad on your gap year in Cambodia, Costa Rica, Fiji, Ghana, Greece, India, Laos, Mexico, Nepal, Peru, Seychelles, South Africa, Madagascar, Belize and Thailand

All our locations offer plenty of opportunities for gap year adventure travel on the weekends and before or after your volunteer or intern program. In Nepal, we even include a trek to Everest Base Camp or Annapurna Sanctuary in the volunteer program. 

Gap Year Programs

GVI offers some of the best gap year programs available. If you don’t believe us, read some of the outstanding reviews we’ve received from previous gap year students, interns, and volunteers. 

GVI offers plenty of gap year opportunities in a range of fields all aligned to the critical global issues set out by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Gap year students can contribute to marine and wildlife conservation, study the effects of climate change, help to prevent plastic pollution, improve the quality of education, assist with reducing gender inequality, and helping local entrepreneurs create successful organisations that are geared toward making a social impact. 

Depending on just how much professional development you’d like to get out of your experience, you can either join a GVI gap year volunteer program or GVI gap year internship. While all GVI volunteer abroad programs include on-site training and work experience guaranteed to improve your employability, GVI internships feature even more learning opportunities, more work experience allowing you to master a wider range of skills, and often earn qualifications.

All GVI gap year programs are perfect for those looking to travel during their gap year. This is because all GVI programs are offered abroad, in exciting regions, like Africa and South America. That means no matter whether you choose a volunteer or intern program with GVI your program will always be a gap year travel program.

Our Programs

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