Meet Leela: Shaolin Practitioner and Eyeliner Wizard Taking A Gap Year

The Winterline Global Skills Gap Year Program travels to 10 different countries over 9 months, where students learn 100 new life skills while traveling the world with their best friends.


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The concept of a gap year program is still new for many students. When were you first introduced to the idea of taking a gap year before college?

I was first introduced to the idea of taking a gap year by an elder student who attended my school. He took a gap year and when he returned there was a panel to discuss his adventures and how they helped him decide what he truly wanted to do. I was in middle school when all this happened, but it sounded like fun so I kept it in mind.

Why did you choose to take a gap year?

I knew I had a plethora of activities that I participated in, and I had no idea how to decipher what was a passion, what was a hobby, and what was still out there. As I moved up into high school, I continued to love learning for the sake of learning. I wanted to be good at everything. When the time came to start attending college fairs and figuring out my plan, I was petrified.

What if I picked the wrong path as my “favorite one”? What if I hadn’t actually discovered what I liked to do yet? I live in the middle of the forest, and the nearest grocery store is 11 miles from my house. I’ve been trapped in this bubble for far too long. All I could do was hope that getting out of this small town might expose me to things I truly loved to do, and teach me new things along the way.

Leela - gap year program

What country on our itinerary are you most excited to visit?

Okay, so, I’ve got this crazy story (it’s not that crazy I’m just good at exaggerating), are you ready? I’m Indian. If you ask me “dot or feather?” I’ll cry.

I’m from India. The country. The subcontinent of Asia. Look at my skin. You never would’ve guessed right? One person in all my eighteen years has actually figured it out without me telling them. Something about my cheekbones being “too high for a white girl,” whatever that means.

Anyways, that’s beside the point, because I’m actually most excited for India. I’ve had the privilege to go there before to visit my (very) extensive family, but I was in Kolkata. If you want to know where not to go to see the sights, it’s Kolkata. I want to see the rest of my country, or at least more of it.

And please, please, don’t get me wrong. I love Kolkata, it’s my home. But I want to know more than just the place the was once the British’s home base in India, and if I can pick up new skills on the way, why wouldn’t I?

What activity or learning experience captivates you the most about Winterline?

Responsible Alcohol Management. I’m kidding (although I think that’s actually extremely important). Just from reading the skills list self-defense sounds super interesting.

I did Northern Style Shaolin Kung Fu for about eight years, but because of injury and school I had to quit. I think it’d be fun to brush up or learn entirely new skills.

Do you have an idea of what you would like to do in the future?

I’m going on this gap year because I have no idea what I want to do in the future. Help people? Work in international relations? Study the arts? Be on broadway? Become a polyglot and teach in schools in the Himalayas? I have no clue.

leela gap year program

Have you traveled before? If so, which trip has been your favorite and why?

Oh wow. Yes. I’ve traveled. But because my parents are such gems (they really are). They decided to do a solid 85% of our traveling before I could remember anything. So! My favorite trip I remember was actually taken last December for Christmas. We decided to fly half way across the world and found ourselves in a place we’d never been before. The Middle East. To be specific: Israel.

When my mum first suggested the place, I wasn’t so sure. As an avid Model UN kid, I was all too aware of Israel’s neighboring countries and their current states, but I was so curious to explore somewhere beyond Western culture, so I gritted my teeth, packed my most modest clothing, and said yes.

Boy was it worth it. The history, the culture, the chocolate. Every memorial was a work of art, every museum far more interesting than anything you’ll find in Seattle, but what I loved most was the melting pot of religions. I’m not religious, mostly because I get kind of freaked out trying to figure out how we got here, but wow is religion fascinating. I got to walk the Via Dolorosa, pray at the Weeping Wall, and visit the Dome of the Rock, all in the same city. It was truly beautiful to see such harmony between people, even if it is a rocky harmony at times.

What do you expect to gain from your gap year program and while traveling abroad?

I suppose I expect to gain a better understanding of what I like to do, I want to explore my passions. Like I said before: small town equals not a lot of opportunity for growth.

What is one thing you want your future Winterline peers to know about you?

Remind me to shut up every once in a while and I SWEAR I’m a good listener. Also, I’m super pumped to meet people that actually like adventures and aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty.

Tell us something fun about you!

I lived in London for 3 1/2 years, so I say and spell words funny. Also my friend says I’m a wizard because I switch hands when I switch eyes while doing eyeliner. I think girls who torque their arm all funny to get their opposite eye and succeed are the real magic ones.

And finally, Coke or Pepsi?

Pepsi? Pepsi products? I like Dr. Pepper.


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Meet Anna: Young Entrepreneur and Avid Punster Taking A Gap Year

As she gears up for her 9-month gap year with Winterline, traveling to 10 different countries and learning 100 new skills, Anna shares her thoughts on why she decided to take a gap year in the first place, and why traveling is so important to her.


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The concept of a gap year program is still new for many students. When were you first introduced to the idea of taking a gap year before college?

So, I have always been a year young for my grade. Ever since Freshman year I’ve aspired to do a gap year. But never really knew exactly what I wanted to do. This year when I was applying to all my colleges, I started thinking about it more seriously. And that’s when I started seeing online advertisements from Winterline and other gap year programs, getting serious about the idea, and talking to my parents about it.

But it’s kind of been something I’ve wanted to do all throughout high school.

At what point did your parents get on board?

Honestly, there wasn’t a whole lot of convincing I had to do. Both my parents are avid travelers, especially my dad. So they both understood the concept of it and were encouraging about it. Any time I told an adult that I’m taking a gap year or considering it, they’d say, “I wish I had done that when I was a kid.”

So, most of the time my parents were very encouraging about it. The main thing was figuring out how to pay for it. But other than that, they were very encouraging. There wasn’t much convincing to do, which was nice.

anna with family taking a gap year

Why did you choose to take a gap year?

I’ve always been the youngest kid in my class, which has never really been an issue, but something that I wanted to take advantage of it, having that extra year and not being put behind. And I just really love traveling.

I went on a service trip to the Dominican Republic for just 10 days. That was when I was applying to colleges, and when I started considering a gap year more seriously. It really solidified the reasons why I wanted to do it: you know, meet some amazing people, make great connection, travel to parts of the world independently, beyond just being on vacation with my parents.

What really attracted me about Winterline is the skills-based program.

Whenever I mention that I’m going on a gap year, people sometimes automatically assume it’s either a service trip or a vacation. And obviously I am taking a year off, that can be perceived as a vacation. But the way Winterline does it by teaching real life skills, that’s something important to me that I’m really interested in doing before going off to school next year.

anna taking a gap year winterline

What country on our itinerary are you most excited to visit?

Honestly, I’m excited for all of them! I think I’m most excited for Costa Rica. I’ve been speaking Spanish since 7th grade and it’s been one of my favorite classes every year. Going to the Dominican Republic, I got to practice my Spanish and see a different Latin culture. That’s probably what I’m most excited for.

What activity or learning experience captivates you the most about Winterline?

Just looking at the list of all the skills, and everything really, there hasn’t been just one thing that I’m super excited for.

One thing I’m excited for is all the people I’m going to be meeting. In the Dominican Republic, that was the main thing. It really didn’t matter what we were doing, but having those connections — these are friends that I still talk to. That’s one of the things I’m most excited for.

Another thing I’m looking forward to is the independent study week in Europe. I watched some Youtube videos of people that went on the Winterline gap year last year, like Jonathon’s and Molly’s videos. I really liked watching those.

It was cool to see how they viewed their time and what they did. There’s so much I could do, and especially independently. That would be such a great way to end the trip. So I’m definitely excited for that.

Anna taking a gap year winterline

Do you have an idea of what you would like to do in the future?

Yeah! I’ve actually deferred my admission to Babson College. I’m definitely on more on a business track. In my high school, we had this program called High School of Business. Since then I’ve been taking 1-3 business classes each year, and I’ve been involved in business clubs, and both my parents are in business.

I was the CEO of a social enterprise this year for our school. It was a really great experience to see how I could apply all my business knowledge the past four years to an applicable, real-life business. I’m definitely more on the entrepreneurship track. But I don’t know what I’d do with it. I am really interested in social enterprise and marketing, not so much finance.

But I do really like combining my passion for business with a social cause. I think that’s really cool.

You’ve traveled before. Which trip was your favorite and why?

The Dominican Republic was the first trip where I was out of the country by myself — definitely one of my favorite trips. I went with one of my best friends. I’d even say that was my favorite trip ever. I’ve been with family to England and Wales, six years ago, with my dad and brother. We have family there. It was really beautiful.

We also went to Costa Rica a few years ago. One of my favorite parts was seeing Mt Arenal and going to the hotsprings there.

What do you expect to gain from your gap year program and while traveling abroad?

One of the things I hope to gain with my gap year — I’ve been on such an academically focused track. I’m top of my class. And focusing entirely on school is one of the main things that causes stress in my life. That’s been very difficult to balance. And I’m definitely not burned out. But I think taking this gap year will be a great refresher for me, to realize some of the things I’m passionate about that I’ve almost forgotten about.

I think it would be really awesome to step away from school for a bit. Obviously I’m going to go back to school and be career-oriented. I’m not trying to just take a gap year and have no idea what I’m doing with my life. But it will provide me with clarity on things that I’m interested in, and help me step away from being so academically focused for a bit. That’s one of the main things I’m looking forward to.

What is one thing you want your future Winterline peers to know about you?

I’d say, in terms of my personality, at first I come across as very introverted — just because I’m going to be put into new and uncomfortable situations and I’m going to be shy at first. But with my friends and when I open up to people, I’m a genuinely outgoing and extroverted person. A lot of people think I’m really shy at first, but I’m just trying to get to know you and be observational.

I want to make lifelong connections on this trip. I’m definitely open to hearing from other people, hearing their stories. And I’d encourage my Winterline peers to be very open with telling me about themselves. I’m a trustworthy person.

Tell us something fun about you!

I am surprisingly quite a jokester. I don’t think a lot of people know that. But I have a weird obsession with puns, and I’m constantly making up my own jokes and puns. That’s something my friends give me a lot of crap for, but I know that they actually like it.

So that’s something interesting with my personality, I guess.

And finally, Coke or Pepsi?

Coke. But I’m actually not a big soda person. So, I’d honestly say neither.


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How to Deal with Reverse Culture Shock After Your Gap Year

After 9 months on the road, traveling to over 10 countries and learning 100 new skills, our students on the Winterline Global Skills Gap Year Program have one more river to cross — coming home.

Our Field Advisors travel the entire duration of the gap year with our students, serving as mentors, leaders, supporters, and sometimes just a good shoulder to lean on. Always in a student to advisor ratio of 8:1 or less, our Field Advisors get to know our students extremely well, and are an integral part of the cohort family, as well as of the Winterline program.


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Hello Beautiful Winterliners!

I hope that you are all doing well and enjoying your reunification with your family and friends.

Some of you might be on cloud nine in that “honeymoon” phase… Some of you may have skipped that entirely and gone straight into crisis. Remember that reverse culture shock is a normal experience. You are returning from a crazy whirlwind of a year and it takes time for you and those around you to adjust to the new you. Go easy on yourself through the process… you will adjust!

Here’s some tips for dealing with reverse culture shock:

1) Connect with people that shared your experience.

There are 19 people that understand what you went through this past year in a way that nobody at home will ever be able to.

However you stay connected, be sure that you do. Reach out on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, email. But don’t forget about the power of a conversation too. We spent the last 245 days (except winter break) seeing each other’s faces every. single. day. If you find that a text or a snapchat just doesn’t meet your need for connection… Reach out! Don’t be afraid to press the call button on your phone and just talk to the folks you spent the last year with.

I hope you all know that the three of us field advisors are always open to chat and curious to hear about your transition back home.

2) Reflect on the year

Journal, Blog, Vlog, edit your thousands of hours of gopro footage or create your own Winterline slideshow of your pictures. Create a wall or a shrine of all the things you collected from around the world.

Spend time to write down quotes and stories. The act of putting pen to paper solidifies those experiences in your mind so you remember them years from now.

Seek out solitude. Go for a hike or even just a walk around town by yourself. Leave your phone at home! Maybe you find a a nice tree to talk to… They’re pretty good listeners.

However you choose to reflect, make sure you make space for it. Some of the greatest learnings from an experience like Winterline happen after the program is over. Be sure you continue looking for them!

3) Share with others

As many of you are discovering, your family and friends may have a limited capacity to relate to your experience. Maybe your family got a whole different perception of your experience through photos and phone calls and you just can’t make them understand what it was really like. Maybe your friends are just more interested in who’s dating who now than hearing about the struggle for democracy in Cambodia.

Go easy on these people.

You will have to find a sweet spot in your story telling. You don’t want to be that person who flips every conversation into “well… when I was in India…” But you also don’t want to keep your experience to yourself and let it fade into memory.

Be intentional about your story telling. Ask people to come over and watch your videos with you, look at photos, and share stories. Create the space for it so you and they know that it’s your time and it’s important.

Prathana and Leo ran into a prospective student at the Cambridge office and got the opportunity to pass their stoke on to someone who may be nervous about taking the leap. What better way to share your stories than you help someone else make a decision that could change their life too? You can talk to Cambridge about being an alumni connection or sharing your experience at your high school. This can be a great way for you to reflect too!

4) Incorporate your experience into home

Keep pursing the things that excited you. Find time to continue exploring the things you found joy in… Cooking, Rock Climbing, Parkour, Sewing, Harp Therapy, French, Biking, Baking, Scuba, Photography, etc. etc. I know I plan to make my own fermented sodas at home… maybe I’ll even take up Bollywood dancing.

Don’t fall back into your old habits (at least the ones that you don’t want to). Look for ways to bring your experience home. Maybe you want to say Buen Provecho before every meal, maybe you want to tell people what you appreciate about them more, or maybe you want to take more time to educate yourself about what’s going on in the world.

Let me know if you want the recipes to make some dope Thai food for your family!

5) Give yourself permission to relax

In the marathon to reconnect, make sure that you also take time to chill.

If you love to sleep… then take some time to sleep! Play some video games, watch netflix, lounge on the couch. You’ve been going, going, going for nine months straight. We pretty much didn’t have a weekend for the past 9 months, so I think we can take at least one to do nothing at all… maybe two.

Be patient with yourself as you go through the different emotions and changes that go along with reverse culture shock. Remember that it’s normal, natural and that it will pass! Most importantly, remember that your peers are probably going through the same thing. It’s ok to lean on each other.

6) Check out DropBox!

Here is the link (private) to a dropbox account that has some wonderful reminders of your year with Winterline. These are great things to share with your friends and family as a way to start telling your story!

In it, you’ll find the following things:

  • The Slideshow
  • The Grad Performance
  • Europe Independent Study Project Presentations
  • Startup Business Pitches
  • Monteverde Independent Study Project Presentations
  • Whistling Woods Film and Documentary Videos

You’ll want to download these things to store personally as you wont have access to this folder forever. We’ll let you know when the startup pitches or anything else gets uploaded.

I miss you all!
Mischa


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Savannah Pallazola: Swimmer And Rock Climber Taking A Gap Year


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The concept of a gap year program is still new for many students. When were you first introduced to the idea of taking a gap year before college?

I was introduced to it when I was younger, because my sister didn’t go straight to college after high school, so I thought that was cool. It’s sort of unconventional for our family, but my mother’s spawns are a little unconventional. Tiff took a gap year to work and she’s been continuing to do that for a while now. My plan is to attend college, I just need to find myself a little first. To take a gap year would be really helpful for me, so it’s been interesting to learn more about it.

Why did you choose to take a gap year?

I just really don’t know what I want to do in college, and then I found out about Winterline, and I’ve always wanted to travel so it was kind of perfect. It just clicked for me and I realized that it’s something more beneficial than anything else I could be doing. I really liked the concept of doing all these things I’ve never done before with people I’ve just met, and figuring out what I like. Also, I live in a small town in Massachusetts, so I have got to get out there.

savannah p taking a gap year abroad

What country on our itinerary are you most excited to visit?

I think I’m most excited about Thailand, to be honest. Though I’ve always wanted to visit places in Europe, and that’s wicked exciting, Thailand is an awesome destination that I’ve heard so many great things about. There’s a lot of tourism there, a lot of people — and the food!

What activity or learning experience captivates you the most about Winterline?

I think the hiking is going to be a wicked cool challenge for me, though I don’t have pervious hiking experience. I really like being outdoors, but I’ve never truly immersed myself in nature, and the challenges it can bring to someone like me. I do a lot of indoor sports, like swimming and rock climbing. I feel like sport is a lot more exhilarating when you’re outside.

My number one concern about the hiking is the fact that we’ll be without power, and my knees are computerized. I charge them every night and the charge will last about a day and a half. It’s a little concerning, but I know people. We’re discussing solar-powered options, or even new attachments specifically for the hiking aspect of the trip.

Overall, the hiking trip is the most captivating to me because it’s in the beginning of it all. It’ll be the first time I get to meet all of these new people, and I just think it’s going to really kick off this journey right.

savannah gloucester taking a gap year

Do you have an idea of what you would like to do in the future?

I really like the Spanish language. I’ve been taking it for 2 years now, but I’m not fluent. I would like study more Spanish in college; that’s a big interest of mine. Maybe one day I can teach English in Spain, like my current Spanish teacher did for eleven years.

I’d also love to study music. I sing, and I also bought a ukulele that I haven’t learned how to play yet. I really like singing songs from musicals, like Rent. I’m a fan of R&B, older music, and some alternative stuff from today. I love to sing in Spanish, as well. Learning songs from Spanish-speaking artists has been beneficial to my pronunciation and coherence.

Have you traveled before? If so, which trip has been your favorite and why?

I’ve traveled inside the country, a bit. When I was nine years old, I went to Disneyworld in Florida with my family. That was awesome, but I didn’t go on any rides. I was too dramatically scared to back then. Though, my favourite park was Jurassic Park.

I’m from Massachusetts, so driving to Maine and New Hampshire is a breeze. With my school, I’ve visited Culinary Institutes in both Vermont and New York.

I did, also, learn to ski in Colorado, which was probably my favorite trip. I mountain skied for two years in a row. I haven’t been in a while, but it’s something I’m sure to pick up again when I come back.

What do you expect to gain from taking a gap year and while traveling abroad?

I expect to be scared, seeing as I don’t have much travel experience. But I also expect to be grateful for the chances I’ll get to be a better version of myself. I guess I just want to gain more worldly knowledge, and to also to be enlightened as to what I’m capable of. I generally like to seek new challenges and be self aware, but I need some more experience.

savannah taking a gap year abroad

What is one thing you want your future Winterline peers to know about you?

I want them to know that I’m an open book.

Tell us something fun about you!

I can beatbox a little! Just little things, not too complex. I beatbox with my brother. We have a very compatible sense of humor and we do a lot of riffing off of whatever song is in our heads.

I am looking for that compatible sense of humor in a Winterline friend! I’m excited about making new friends, and singing and beatboxing with them, if they so wish to as well.

And finally, Coke or Pepsi?

Neither! I don’t really like Coke or Pepsi! I’m a Ginger Ale type of person. Schweppes Ginger Ale. It’s gotta be Schweppes.


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Packing List for a Gap Year Abroad

When my daughter left for Paris her sophomore year of college she had no idea what to expect, so she planned for every reasonable scenario, and created a packing least for her year abroad. Her bags were loaded with clothes, dozens of shoes, and other items that she would never use, but would surely take up much-needed space in her tiny apartment.

She spent six months abroad (with a home base in France) and traveled to every nook and cranny of Europe. By the time she returned home, she had definitely learned how to pack efficiently, and more specifically, how to pack practically.

1. Be wise about the basics

Don’t take large quantities of toiletries such as shampoo, toothpaste, deodorant, etc. Once you’ve arrived at your destination, you can easily purchase what you need. Until then, pack travel-sized items, especially in your carry-on, in case your luggage gets lost along the way. It happens, many times.

2. Lay out all your clothing and items before you pack

This works great when you are trying to pack minimally. Determine how many outfits you will need and mix and match tops and bottoms. Do the same with shoes, sweaters, and jackets. Once you have all your clothing laid out, it will be easier to pack effectively.

3. Be logical about clothing

Don’t fill your suitcase with season-specific clothing. Pack clothing that can be layered: tanks under long sleeve shirts, sweaters on top of t-shirts, and a few seasonal items like swimsuits and one good jacket or “hoodie”. Weather typically varies from country to country and you want to be fully prepared for every climate change.

4. Pack comfortable shoes

It goes without saying that you will be doing a good deal of walking—that’s what travelers do. Again, my daughter learned the hard way. It’s simply not wise to fill your suitcase with high heels when you need a good pair of walking shoes that will last.

5. Pack your carry-on for emergencies

Have an extra set of clothes, along with whatever you wear to bed in your carry-on. Airlines are notorious for losing luggage, especially on International trips. Take the Boy Scout motto to heart—be prepared.

6. Make your carry-on a backpack

Backpacks are vital and indispensible when traveling abroad. A good backpack can hold more than you think and it’s so much easier to maneuver around than a carry-on that’s a suitcase. And don’t skimp on the cost! This backpack needs to last your entire trip. Sturdy stitching, front and side pouches, padded shoulder straps, and a low-profile color are all virtues. Many travelers agree that a body-hugging, internal frame backpack is worth the extra money and increases durability.

7. Protect important documents

Keep essential travel documents with you at all times. These include your passport, your plane ticket, your credit card and debit card, cash, and any other pertinent information you might need upon arrival. There are also numerous, well-respected travel wallets on the market for purchase. Most importantly, don’t ever let your purse or wallet out of sight when traveling abroad. Keep them zipped up in a pocket and attached to you at all times. Being stranded in a foreign country without identification or money is not anyone’s idea of a positive gap year experience. Another quick tip: if you’re traveling with a passport, it’s never a bad idea to email yourself a photocopy of the front photo and its signature pages in case you need to get it replaced.

8. Learn how to pack

Don’t just throw your clothes in your suitcase. There are videos that will teach you how to pack properly. This is a how to step-by-step blog post with visuals: How to Pack a Carry-On Like a Boss. And here’s a video I like from YouTube on How to NOT Overpack Your Suitcase.

9. Don’t overpack reminders of home

Of course you’ll want to travel with a few reminders and mementos from home, especially on an extended gap year trip. A few pictures, a favorite blanket, or some of your favorite movies are fine. But cramming your suitcase with all your favorites is not advisable. Suitcase real estate is a necessity. Save that room for essentials like clothing and comfortable shoes.

10. Save room for souvenirs

Keep in mind that you are going to want to collect keepsakes along the way to bring home from each of your travel destinations. Always, save a little extra space for these items in your suitcase.

If you need a list of essential items to pack when traveling abroad? Read this: Pack Light and Travel Happy. It’s also worth noting that most structured gap year programs provide a “must-follow” checklist of what to bring specific to their program.

How to pay for a gap year: scholarships, FundMyTravel, and more!

Gap years have incredible benefits for students, and you probably should do a gap year. It’s not just Malia Obama taking one. Gap years have been increasing in popularity in the United States for years.

But you still have to think about how to afford a gap year. If you want to travel the world and do amazing things, you’ll probably need some money for it. And even if you go with a gap year program, often you’ll have to save a little more for hidden costs. (By the way, Winterline’s programs contain no hidden costs, and pricing for all programs is all inclusive.)

Here’s some advice for how to pay for a gap year.


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1. Scholarships

There are a number of gap year organizations that offer scholarships listed on the Gap Year Assocation website, including our own! Gap year scholarships are great way to pay for a gap year because they’re basically free money — all you have to do is apply and the institution or its partners will offer the scholarship depending on the strength of your application. The cons are that there’s no guarantee you’ll earn the scholarship when you apply, and the time you’ll have to wait to find out depends on the organization.

Scholarships can be earned for anything from merit to need to work-study. Winterline offers early application discounts, merit-based gap year scholarships, as well as work-study scholarships for photography, journalism, or videography. The scholarship application includes a portfolio of student work, with details given at the end of the main application.

We offered $225,000 in scholarships this year.

2. Crowdfunding

Also known as asking everyone for money at the same time, crowdfunding your gap year can be an effective way of making up the difference between what you have and what you need in order to afford the gap year of your dreams. It’s a great way to pool money from family, friends, guidance counselors, anyone who believes in what you’re doing and what you hope to learn or accomplish during your gap year.

fundmytravel logo gap year scholarshipsFundMyTravel has an easy platform for raising funds for your gap year. The site is designed specifically for travelers, so you won’t have to worry about competing with robots or artwork or the next wearable gadget. You can upload your story via videos and photos, and make a case for why someone should fund your adventure. Their payment processor makes sharing finances easy and their social media and email integrations are a no-brainer and a great way to get your tribe on board. Get everyone as excited as you are!

kickstarter-logo-gap year scholarshipsKickstarter is a great resource if you have a threshold amount that you need to get to in order to set sail. If you don’t hit that amount the money is returned to the funders. This is great if say, you want to do a gap year program but won’t be able to if your crowdfunding turns up short. Kickstarter’s edge is that people will usually fund more if they know it’s a go or no-go kind of opportunity. They’ll get their money back if you don’t do it.

indiegogo logo gap year scholarshipsIndiegogo is perfect if you’ve already committed to doing your gap year and you just need more cushion to get it done right. Funds raised on Indiegogo will automatically be transferred to your account at the end of your campaign even if you don’t hit your goal! You’ll get whatever money goes into your campaign, so don’t use this platform if you’re still on the fence about doing a gap year, or you might have to go and return everyone’s money. As with Kickstarter and FundMyTravel, you’ll want to build a strong case for why someone should support you in doing your gap year. What will you learn, what will you be able to contribute, and why should you do it now?

3. Mom & Dad

Let’s face it, the best support almost always comes from family. Whether they can support you financially or help you build a case for a gap year scholarship or a crowdfunding campaign, the best gap year ever might start with help from mom and dad.

If you’re asking your family for financial support for a gap year, remember to bring them into the fold of why this is important to you, and why you think this will help prepare you for college and life! Your parents and grandparents want to know that you’re being supported toward your life goals, or at least on your way toward figuring out what those are! Travel can be the basis for a strong case; so can learning new skills and learning about yourself!

Speak to what they value most and want most for you. Be prepared for that conversation with evidence on the value and benefits of a gap year. Sometimes all it takes is reminding them that you do in fact want to finish college, you just need a break!

4. Save Up

There’s no substitute for earning money yourself and saving it up for your gap year to show that you really care. Working after school and on weekends can be a very effective way to save up toward a gap year, as well as to demonstrate to others that this is something really important to you.

Combining work experience and money saved with crowdfunding or asking your parents can be a very effective way to raise money for a gap year.

5. 529 Funds

Some families may have started saving up for college long in advance with 529 funds. In some cases, families choose to use these tax-advantaged education investment funds toward a gap year program, but it’s important to read the fine print. Some gap year organizations may support it, but it may require credit which can conflict with the deferral policy of your school.

6. Stipends

Some gap year programs offer living stipends along with enrollment into the program. These are often service-based programs (which we find problematic). As mentioned earlier, make sure you understand the full range of costs associated with your gap year. If you’re planning your own, check everything. If you’re going with a gap year program, know what costs are covered by the program, and what you’ll need to dig up once you’ve submitted your tuition.

7. Matching

If you’ve been able to gain traction on any of these funding sources, consider setting up a matching fund. Often, funders will want to know that you’ll actually follow through and not give up half-way through funding.

Getting a commitment to match funds with another source can be a powerful way of demonstrating how badly you want to do this. For example, you can ask grandparents to put in a dollar for every dollar you save toward your gap year from working. Or you can ask your parents to match whatever you’ve raised via crowdfunding! You’ll be able to work twice as fast toward your savings goal! Then, you just need to make sure that everyone knows about the matching commitment.

Any combination of these matching commitments creates a strong statement that you’re going to figure out how to do this no matter what. That kind of attitude goes a long way toward getting the right combination of gap year scholarships, crowdfunding, and friends and family support.

Good luck! And have a happy gap year!


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Winterline Gap Year Program: Photo Contest II

In this most recent gap year program photo contest, students competed for prizes in five different categories.

A number of the students are photographers on our Media Team, a group of students composed of recipients of our work-study gap year scholarships. To account for any bias, all photographs were stripped of their photographers’ names.

The five categories were People, Places, Culture, Skills, and of course, Winterline. Here are the winners!


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People: Runner Up

  1. Captures kinetic energy, frozen in time
  2. Honesty of emotion
  3. Close up
  4. Shallow depth of field, bokeh, brings intimacy with subject

gap year photo contest runner up

People: Winner

  1. Powerful symmetry broken by the human form
  2. Formal narrative is asymmetric with half-nudity
  3. The expression captures curiosity, joy, even mischief

gap year photo contest winner people

Places: Runner Up

  1. Quality use of depth of field
  2. Subjects are perfectly crisp at the edge of an unknown height
  3. Captures a candid repose into human history, mixed with the challenge toward digital modernity

Places runner up gap year scholarships

Places: Winner

  1. Powerful sense of place
  2. Intimacy with an unknown owner, their belongings and their colorful attention to detail
  3. Architecture merges the old with the new, disarray with uniformity, roughness and tenderness


Culture: Runner Up

  1. Unique, close crop framing
  2. Colors of subject and sky contrast to reveal relationship between subject and others
  3. Decorations brought out in bite size via proximity to subject

photo contest gap year scholarship

Culture: Winner

  1. Abundant detail and humanity shines through in this image
  2. Universality and homogeny meet in the faces of the subjects
  3. Use of bokeh and focus pulls back the curtain between observer and observed
  4. Striking minimalism in the framing of the subjects

gap year photo contest scholarship

Skills: Runner Up

  1. Care and attention to detail from the subject brings out tenderness in this moment captured
  2. Eye-level humility meets the narrative of the subject’s focus
  3. Soft lighting from natural source adds to the emotional experience

gap year scholarship photo contest
Skills: Winner

  1. Close crop creates tension between subjects and what lies outside the frame
  2. Emotional tension & curiosity captured perfectly in the seen subjects’ eyes and the presence of an unseen subject.
  3. Lettering on main subject’s T-Shirt brings out further, unscripted meaning

gap year study abroad scholarship

Winterline: Runner Up

  1. The unknown background contrasts with the familiarity of the foreground, creating tension between the direction of the subject and the weighted centrality of the written logo
  2. Adventure and exploration captured perfectly with matched anonymity

gap year photo contest scholarship runner up

Winterline: Winner

  1. Dominant narrative of friendship and togetherness
  2. Adventure and respite brought to mind by the outfits and heavy lean of the subjects
  3. Symmetric framing and individuality despite matching outfits

gap year scholarship photo contest 2


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