Gap Year Info

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    What is a Gap Year?
    A gap year is an experiential semester or year "on," typically taken between high school and college in order to deepen practical, professional, and personal awareness. Gap Years originally started in the United Kingdom in the 1970's as a way to fill the 7 or 8-month gap between final exams and the beginning of university. The intention in the UK for that time was to contribute to the development of the student usually through an extended international experience.

    Gap Years came to the United States in the early 1980's through the work of Cornelius H. Bull, founder of Interim Programs. Since its transition to the United States, Gap Years have taken on a life of their own - now embodying every manner of program and opportunity imaginable, both domestically and internationally, all with the shared purpose of increasing self-awareness, learning about different cultural perspectives, and experimenting with future possible careers. Since their broader acceptance into the American system of education, they have served the added benefit of ameliorating a sense of academic burnout. In fact, in a recent study, one of the two biggest reasons Gap Year students chose to take a Gap Year was precisely to address academic burnout.
    Since the 1980's many articles have been written about Gap Years, but perhaps most notably is the article primarily attributed to Harvard's former Dean of Admissions, William Fitzsimmons entitled "Time Out or Burn Out for The Next Generation." Since then, numerous books and articles have been written, most famously: "The Gap Year Advantage" by Rae Nelson and Karl Haigler.

    - Courtesy of American Gap Association (



    Inclusion on this list is not intended as an edorsement of any particular service/product.

    American Gap Association
    The American Gap Association is a 501(c)3 nonprofit accreditation and standards-setting organization for Gap Years that is recognized as such by the US Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission.

    USA Gap Year Fairs
    An organization that organizes multiple events around the country to profile a broad range of gap year programs.  Visit their website to view and/or register for gap year curriculum fairs, speakers and additional resources.

    Global Gap Year Fellowship @ UNC-Chapel Hill

    The Global Gap Year Fellowship offered at UNC-Chapel Hill is the first college-sponsored gap year program that allows students to design their own gap-year experience. Fellows are encouraged to create their service-based gap years with the full support and guidance of our staff and faculty. The Fellowship partners with UNC-CH Office of Undergraduate Admissions, which helps promote the program and select the recipients.
    Winterline Global Skills: Gap Year Programs and Curriculum
    Winterline Global Education offers skills-based gap year and short-term study abroad programs for young adults with an adventurous spirit and an interest in the world around them.


    Gap Year Solutions 

    Our goal is to help students increase college success through transformational gap experiences. Founder Katherine Stievater works with students across the U.S. to structure work, service, travel and other activities into a customized plan. Her approach focuses on student ownership, and building life skills such as problem solving, independent living, and resilience.