Home » Gap Year Resources

Gap Year Resources

A gap year, also known as a bridge or sabbatical year, is usually a break in studies taken by students between high school and college.

Gap years can take many forms. Students may choose to work, travel, intern, volunteer, perform military or religious service, or just take time to explore their interests and rejuvenate before starting their college career.

Students who take gap years consistently report that that year between high school and college is one of the most meaningful of their lives. They often see in themselves an increased self-awareness, a greater appreciation of cultural differences, and a developed sense of citizenship–qualities beneficial to themselves as learners and as members of their communities. Universities also recognize the value that gap years have for the academic, emotional, mental, and social development of their students.

[I gained] an understanding of my own interests, drive, and place within a global context. Taking a gap year gave me a significant increase in confidence as well as my capabilities and intellectual curiosity, allowing me to find greater success once I arrived at Duke. – Michael, Class of 2020, Economics Major

[Through my Gap Year] I gained confidence in my ability to adapt to any environment, which made my transition to college much easier. I did not have the same anxieties about fitting in and adjusting that I may have otherwise. – Erin, Class of 2020, Public Policy and Cultural Anthropology Major


It’s up to you to plan your gap year–we don’t have approved or recommended programs. But here are just a few resources to help you think about the possibilities.


  • Youth organizations, like the Boys and Girls Club or the YMCA 
  • Immigrant and refugee services, adult education or senior centers
  • Environmental and conservation organizations, animal shelters
  • Community art programs, the local library
  • Women’s shelters, food banks, crisis support centers 

Personal Engagement

  • Creative writing, arts involvement
  • Skill-Building (foreign language, coding, public speaking, etc,)
  • Part-time work or internship
  • Research
  • Environmental work (gardening, backpacking, etc.)


Planning Resources


National organization providing resources and guidance on developing your gap year plans.


Testimonials from former gap year students.



Service Organizations



Opportunities for paid service work focusing on community and workforce development.



Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms, USA is part of a worldwide effort to link visitors with organic farmers, promote an educational exchange, and build a global community conscious of ecological farming practices.



All Hands and Hearts addresses the immediate and long-term needs of communities impacted by natural disasters.



AmeriCorps is your moment to take the path less traveled, to break the status quo, to stop talking about the problem and be the solution. Join AmeriCorps and you can mentor and tutor kids, rebuild a community after disaster, help veterans, or work with local communities to alleviate poverty.

City Year AmeriCorps members serve in schools, preparing students with the social, emotional and academic skills and mindsets to succeed in school and in life.




SCA’s mission is to build the next generation of conservation leaders and inspire lifelong stewardship of the environment and communities by engaging young people in hands-on service to the land.





Global Citizen Year offers a gap semester abroad called Take Action Lab. Students join a diverse cohort of talented peers from around the world, immerse in a new culture, and apprentice with experienced changemakers addressing global challenges. Students learn how to tackle global issues from the ground up by working alongside local experts advancing human rights, sustainability, and more. With Take Action Lab, students expand their awareness of both global issues and their own sense of purpose, ultimately fueling a future of positive impact. If you are interested in applying for this opportunity, please consult Global Citizen Year’s admissions page for application materials and upcoming deadlines.



Virtual internship and volunteer opportunities in more than 15 countries, with focus areas in Children and Education, Community Development, Global Health, and Environmental Sustainability.




Explore critical issues through college-level course curriculum and a volunteership placement with a community organization. Dig into leadership and cultural humility by examining your role in social change and community action. Learn how to step up at a time when collaboration and civic engagement are more important than ever.



Outdoor Leadership


Outward Bound is a provider of experiential and outdoor education programs for youth and adults.


NOLS is a nonprofit global wilderness school that seeks to help you step forward boldly as a leader.