5 Free Resources for Learning a Language

Is your New Year’s resolution to learn a new language? If you checked out our recent blog by our Gap Year student Anna, then you know learning a language can help you truly connect with a country’s culture. You don’t need to be fluent in a country’s native language to visit, but it’s always cool to know another language. Whether you want to brush up on a language you’re no longer confident in, or learn a new one entirely, these 5 free resources will help you out.


This site and app work best for practicing as opposed to learning. DuoLingo familiarizes you with a language through reading, writing, listening, and speaking drills. The site gives daily reminders to study and allows you to track your progress. You can also share with friends, and even list your skills on LinkedIn! DuoLingo offers almost 30 languages, including High Valyrian – the language spoken in Game of Thrones.

Winterline Learning Language Duolingo

This site allows you to learn vocabulary, practice writing in the language, and chat with native speakers to perfect your speaking and listening skills. In order to keep you motivated, Busuu offers badges and in-site awards when you reach your goals. Busuu also offer specialty courses for necessary travel phrases, which is great if you’re just trying to get a basic grasp on a country’s language before you visit.

Winterline Learning Language Busuu


The unique feature of Memrise is the ability to learn new words and phrases by seeing them in sentences with similar sounding words and phrases from your native language. This helps build the correlation in your mind between the languages. The site also uses pictures in tandem with words for added visual association. Finally, Memrise also re-words translations to ensure that you’re actually learning the meaning instead of just memorizing the translation.

Winterline Learning Language Memrise


This source has a different app for each language you want to learn. The setup and features are the same; the only difference is the language itself. AccellaStudy offers flashcards, quizzes, and even a hands-free option so that you can practice a language while driving or otherwise occupied without even looking at your phone! You can also customize your study set if you find yourself having trouble with a particular word.

Winterline Learning Language Accela

Rosetta Stone Travel App

Though Rosetta Stone is a professional source that requires payment, they offer a free app specifically for on-the-go translations. The app combines pictures with common phrases so that travelers can learn basic sayings in the language of their choice. A unique and helpful feature is that you have to repeat phrases into your phone’s microphone to practice your pronunciation.

Winterline Learning Language Rosetta Stone


Be sure to keep in mind that sometimes, sites translate word-by-word without taking into account differences in sentence structure or grammar. This may lead to some faulty translations, but learning is a process! For even more resources, check out the page “Fluent in 3 Months”. For more travel skills be sure to check out our recent posts on our blog



International Education Week 2017

For our Global Gap Year students, pretty much every week is International Education Week – at least, for 9 months of the year. For the rest of the country, the spotlight is on now. In the United States, International Education Week (IEW) is November 13th to 17th.

The U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education jointly sponsor IEW to promote global citizenship and prepare future leaders for worldwide experiences. The point of this week is simple: the U.S. wants you to travel, for any reason or in any capacity possible. In order to promote this goal, events are being held across various states and countries. These events range from education fairs, to forums and panel discussions, to scavenger hunts, badminton games, and musical presentations. Moreso, during November, local passport offices are hosting Passport to the World events. Attending these events will allow the public to learn about passports and apply right then and there. A special focus on college campuses aims to help students take steps toward studying abroad.

Winterline 9 Month Gap Year Program

We’ve written extensively about why students should travel, but we’ll tell you again. One important reason is for hands-on education; an experience that cannot be duplicated. Experiential learning teaches skills that are simply impossible to learn in a classroom. Reading a history book is great, but it doesn’t compare to visiting ancient ruins. Sitting through a lecture about modern agriculture may be a bore, but working on a rice paddy or coconut farm in Thailand could be the most unique time of your life.

At Winterline, we support the notion that capable and competent young people, in order to be effective in their lives, ought to be able to do a wide variety things: build a house, cook a meal, manage their finances, sail a boat, speak in public, care for the young and the elderly, start a business, serve a customer, negotiate a deal, drive a car safely and change its tires. To learn these things we believe our students need to be educated globally. Students on our programs gain their skills in multiple countries on several continents, understanding through it all that leadership, critical thinking, cultural awareness, and communication are first and foremost global skills, required of all young people today who are going to be successful in our ever more globalized world.

Winterline 9 Month Gap Year Program
Winterline 9 Month Gap Year Program

Another reason to travel is to truly understand the world beyond yourself and your surroundings. Immersing yourself in a new place with new people teaches you not only about others, but about yourself and how you fit into the world. Additionally, cultural understanding and cultural assimilation are important aspects of being a global citizen. Garnering respect for, and knowledge of, foreign places is integral to being a member of the international community.

Winterline 9 Month Gap Year Program

Whether it be before, during, in lieu of, or after college, try to travel as much as you can. Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, learning hands-on, and experiencing new things are unparalleled and worthwhile adventures.

Check out the website for IEW, your local government, or your university to discover events that you can attend.


Will Studying Abroad Get You a Job?

If you need a reason aside from wanderlust to take your studies international, look no further. A recent study found that studying abroad positively impacts the development of job skills, thereby widening career options and presenting the opportunity for long-term growth and promotion. Here at Winterline, WE LOVE SKILLS, so we knew these resulted needed to be shared.

The PIE (Professionals in International Education) News summed up the results of the study to spread the word about the positive effects of learning abroad. More than 4,500 people were surveyed, and 30 were chosen for more in-depth interviews. Over half of all respondents said that their study abroad experience actually helped them to get a job.

Winterline Global Entrepreneurship and Business Programs
Winterline Global Entrepreneurship and Business Programs

Even those who didn’t attribute their employment to study abroad acknowledged its use. Many specifically cited study abroad with helping them stand out and get promotions. Study abroad teaches people interpersonal skills, communication, and the ability to understand and work through differences. These are critical values in the workplace, specifically for establishing leadership. Studying abroad helps you figure out your strengths and how to handle your weaknesses. 

“I am a learner, a problem solver, an adventurer, and a creator. Winterline will allow me to explore every tiny facet of my identity, to discover more about who I really am.”
–Benji M (Winterline GSP)

Winterline 9 Month Gap Year Program
Winterline 9 Month Gap Year Program

The study includes a list of the top five skills rated as most desired by employers: intercultural skills, curiosity, flexibility/adaptability, confidence, and self-awareness. 70% of the survey’s respondents said that their study abroad experience helped shape these values in them. More than 50% also named interpersonal and problem-solving skills as areas in which they grew while abroad.

“I gained an intense understanding of different cultures and managing myself in different situation as well as working with many different types of people. It was an intense maturing experience.”  –Alex (Winterline GSP)

Winterline 9 Month Gap Year Program Robotics
Winterline 9 Month Gap Year Program

Some students worry that going on a program seemingly irrelevant to their major could be harmful, but these results tell a different story: “Among science majors that went on a program outside of the sciences, 47% reported their study abroad contributed to a job offer, whereas among those who went on a science focused experience, only 28% reported it did so”. Our students have experienced the success first hand crediting Winterline for their stellar grades which will help them get a job in the future.

“I just finished my first year of college with a 4.0 and I owe a lot of that to Winterline. Even a year later, I am still benefiting from Winterline.  It has truly been life-changing.”
–Jamie F. (Winterline GSP)

Winterline 9 Month Gap Year Program
Winterline 9 Month Gap Year Program

Maybe there’s isn’t a program specifically for your major, or perhaps you have more interest in going to a different region. Don’t let that prevent you from traveling if there’s somewhere you want to go or something you want to explore! Go where you want for yourself, and take comfort in the knowledge that your experience will benefit you in both your personal life and your career field.

Has your study abroad experience helped you with your job? We’d love to hear about it. Tell us in the comments!

Meet the Field Advisors: Sarah & Ed

We introduced you to Erica and Patrick; now it’s time to meet our other pair of field advisors! Sarah and Ed will be working with our second group of gap year students (our green cohort), who start orientation tomorrow! Sarah and Ed are passionate about both travel and interpersonal development, and they’re excited to spend the next nine months leading students on an adventure around the world.


Sarah Rasmussen field advisorSarah Rasmussen field advisor

Meet Sarah Rasmussen

Sarah’s love for adventure has brought her all over the world: from California and Seattle to China, Vietnam, South Korea, Indonesia, Australia, and Kyrgyzstan! Her passion for working with and helping both people and animals is apparent: Sarah is an equestrian trainer and has worked as a dog handler. Additionally, she’s an advocate for victims of domestic and sexual assault, as well as homeless and runaway youth, not to mention she has spent time in the Peace Corps. Sarah can’t wait to bond with our gap year students and experience new countries and adventures with Winterline!

Q: What are you most excited for when it comes to this program?

SR: Typically I work climbing, backpacking, and kayaking trips in backcountry settings so I am excited to travel to new places and do new things. I am also keen to catch up with friends of long standing along the way.

Q: Why did you become a field advisor?

SR: I am an FA because I enjoy traveling and working witih young people. My favorite parts of these trips is watching students grow as they move down their own path of self-discovery.

Q: What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever eaten while travelling?

SR: I was backpacking in the Boundary Waters between the US and Canada and we had run out of food. So we mixed together some left over ingredients from previous meals. We made a stew of sorts from dehyrdated refried beans, mashed potato flakes, and Texture Vegetable Protein. It was about 3/4 bad.

Q: Tell us a fun fact about yourself.

SR: For nearly two years I insisted that I be called Sassy and would not answer to the name Sarah.


ed thompson field advisored thompson field advisor

Meet Ed Thompson

Ed honed his skills as an outdoor educator, mentor, and manager during 15 years of service at a non-profit in New Hampshire before packing up to travel. Recently, Ed has set his focus on youth- and community-focused jobs in new lands: Taiwan, Hong Kong, Nicaragua, Peru, Kuwait, and Haiti, to name a few! This background has brought Ed to us at Winterline and we couldn’t be more excited! Ed is eager to help young people experience the world and develop new skills along the way!

Q: What are you most excited for?

ET: On a professional level, I’m most excited to get to know the students and witness their personal growth over the course of the trip as they confront (and overcome!) the many diverse challenges they’re sure to encounter along the way.  Personally, I’m always excited for the opportunity to travel and to get to know new places/people/cultures around the world.

Q: Why did you become a field advisor?

ET: I became a field advisor because it combines my interest in working with young people, my love of travel, and my sincere belief in the value of the sorts of skills Winterline strives to teach.

Q: What is your favorite place you have travelled to & why?

ET: Guatemala was one of my first extended independent travel destinations and set the tone for all my future travel.  It was a nice blend of structured learning (I spent a couple of weeks studying Spanish) balanced with a period of unstructured free travel (I wandered around the country using the local “chicken buses”, trekking to waterfalls in the northern highlands, swimming in the rivers along the Caribbean coast, and relaxing by a lake in the central lowlands).

Q: Tell us a fun fact about yourself.

ET: I attended kindergarten twice!

To find out more about all of our amazing field advisors and the rest of our staff, be sure to check out our Winterline Team here.

I Didn’t Take a Gap Year – and I Regret It

Among students considering a gap year, there’s one common hesitation that stands out: students worry that by postponing college, they’ll fall behind their peers. For some teens, the thought of being older than the other students when they return and go to college is anxiety-causing. For others, there may be a more extreme fear; a concern that taking one year off will significantly prevent them from achieving success later in life. In my case, the latter was true.


I went straight to college after graduating high school, and while I’ve enjoyed it so far, I regret not taking advantage of the opportunity to spend time traveling before committing myself to university. I toyed with the idea of a gap year for a long time, but what it came down to was this: I didn’t want to go to college, but I felt as though that was just what I had to do. College to me is, essentially, just what people do.

I was terrified of being in a different spot than my friends from high school, and feared that taking a year off would reflect poorly on my work ethic, especially when I began applying to jobs. However, I know now that that concern was unwarranted. Many successful people take gap years, and a great amount of these people actually credit that year to their success. Taking a gap year is obviously not the norm in America, so taking a year off to explore both the world and yourself does not set you up for failure, but rather sets you apart from your peers in a positive way. It shows a commitment to learning about other cultures, religions, and people. It shows courage, and insight, and curiosity. No respectable college or job would turn you down because you took the time to discover the world and all that it has to offer.


Additionally, in taking a gap year, you get to experience more of the world than you might’ve thought possible. The skills you learn and experiences you have will be ones you can’t have at school, and not only will they help set you up to be an adult, but will help you discover your strengths and passions. It’s unfair to expect that an 18 year old will know what field they want to go into with little world experience, but a gap year means you might have a better idea of what you want to do with the rest of your life – or at least the foreseeable future.

Meet The Field Advisors: Erica & Patrick

We are gearing up for our Gap Year orientation and we’re so excited to introduce you to two of our four field advisors. Erica and Patrick will be heading to Colorado to meet with one of our two groups of gap year students.We are so proud to have such strong leaders and experienced travelers as field advisors for the upcoming Gap Year program. For the next nine months Patrick and Erica will be leading our students around the globe for the adventure of a lifetime.

erica schultz winterline field advisorerica schultz winterline field advisor

Meet Erica Schultz

Since 2013, Erica has dedicated her time and talents to leading experiential education student groups through travel across the globe. She has worked with programs in Costa Rica, Ghana, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, and Myanmar. Through her work in the Peace Corps and her degree in Spanish writing and literature, she has found her passion of creating strong connections with other cultures through their languages. With over four years of leading programs and about 50 student trips under her belt she’s beyond excited for the next nine months with Winterline.

Q: What are you most excited for when it comes to this program?

ES: I’m excited to share my stoke of visiting each country as we move through the trimesters! We are LITERALLY going around the world on this program! That’s a traveler’s dream.

Q: Why did you become a field advisor?

ES: For the last few years I’ve spent a lot of time working with high school students in different countries. Being a Field Advisor for Winterline, I’m given the opportunity to work and create impactful relationships with students that are a little older and have more independence. This program allows them to better control what they want to get out of the program and how it will shape their future. I’ve always been passionate about experiential education and learning outside of the classroom. As an FA I get to fulfill that passion by seeing students thrive through real life situations, through gaining skills that will potentially help shape their decisions later in life, and by gaining a well-rounded global perspective.

Q: What is your favorite thing about traveling?

ES: The feeling of stepping foot in a new and unknown country. It’s so exhilarating to know almost nothing about the place you’ve landed in and not knowing anyone there. Also, FOOD. Always! Trying everything and anything!

Q: Tell us a fun fact about yourself.

ES: I haven’t had a home since 2013 (my mom might argue with this since my stuff is in my childhood room of my parents’ house!) I have been working for travel companies, had a small stint in Peace Corps, and pieced together road trips in between to keep the travel ball rolling. Since then, I’ve hit 16 countries (including new states in America) and I am excited to add two new ones to the list from this program.


patrick galvin winterline field advisorpatrick galvin winterline field advisor

Meet Patrick Galvin

A natural born leader, Patrick is happiest when his backpack is on and he’s out exploring new places. He is excited excited to join the Winterline family to combine his passions of travel, mentorship, and the love of life through the gap year program. Patrick found his passion for working with young adults during his travels leading programs in Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia. With about a dozen student trips under his belt, Patrick is excited about taking his leadership to new heights and places with Winterline.

Q: What are you most excited for?

PG: Anytime I pack my backpack to go on an adventure I get excited! I have a long list (the countries we’re going to, the skills we will learn, etc.) but I’m currently most excited to meet everyone in the group and get to know everyone. Each group is unique and every individual brings something special to the table. I can’t wait to find out what those unique qualities are 😉

Q: Why did you become a field advisor?

PG: This job is one of a kind. It is the most rewarding and inspiring job that I have ever come across. Travel has always been an obsession of mine and I love to work with young adults in a mentorship role.

Q: What’s a place that you’ve never been but really want to visit?

PG: I can’t wait to get to India!!! It’s been #1 on my list to get to for the past two years 🙂

Q: Tell us a fun fact about yourself.

PG: The highest elevation I’ve ever hiked to is 5645 meters (18,519 feet).


To find out more about all of our amazing field advisors and the rest of our staff, be sure to check out our Winterline Team here.


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.

Are you ready to start your gap year adventure?


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!

Inline image 1

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!

Are you ready for the best gap year ever?


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.

Ready for the adventure of a lifetime?


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!

Ready to take a gap year with us?


20 Colleges That Encourage A Gap Year

The benefits of doing so have been highlighted by numerous studies as well.

“For a gap year to have a significant impact on success in college, and later in the working world, it needs to be a transformative event, quite distinct from anything a student has experienced before. It should be designed to help students acquire the skills and attributes that colleges and employers are looking for… maturity, confidence, problem-solving, communication skills and independence.” Jeff Selingo, author of There Is Life After College.

Many universities and colleges support gap years and semesters with varying deferral policies, often allowing a student to keep their accepted status and return a year, or sometimes two years, later. This list of twenty US colleges and universities highlights some of the many ways in which universities support deferrals for college gap years.

If you are interested in doing a college gap year, we advise you to speak to an admissions officer at the school you’re applying or have been accepted to.

Interested in learning more about our skills-based gap year programs?


1. Harvard


“Harvard College encourages admitted students to defer enrollment for one year to travel, pursue a special project or activity, work, or spend time in another meaningful way—provided they do not enroll in a degree-granting program at another college. Deferrals for two-year obligatory military service are also granted. Each year, between 80 and 110 students defer their matriculation to the College.”

2. Yale


“Request for deferral must be submitted in writing to the respective associate dean who will communicate with the Graduate School’s department or program. An admissions deferral may be requested for either one term or one academic year.”

3. University of Richmond


“Students must send their postponement requests in writing to Gil J. Villanueva, dean of admission. Gil, in conjunction with the Admission Committee, will review the requests on a case by case basis. If approved, students have exactly one year to postpone their enrollments, provided of course that they do not enroll in post-secondary coursework elsewhere. Normally, the non-refundable enrollment deposit is $600. Postponed students must pay an additional non-refundable deposit of $1,900 (total of $2,500) to secure their space in the following year’s class. If students were awarded merit-based scholarships, current policy states those monies would carry forward to the following year upon enrollment. However, postponed students would have to reapply for need-based financial since aid analysis is contingent upon an updated aid application.”

4. Washington and Lee


“Students should write to the Admissions Committee to request a deferral after paying the required reservation deposit to secure a place in the first-year class. Requests should include detailed information about how the year will be spent. All requests are reviewed individually on their merits, though typically, deferrals will not be granted to students who propose a year of full-time college or post-graduate secondary school study.” Need-based awards must be re-applied for. Merit-based do not require reapplication.

5. New York University, New York. ” If you’ve been offered admission as a freshman to NYU, you may request to defer your enrollment for up to one year. If your request is approved and you meet the requirements listed below, you do not have to file a new application and are guaranteed readmission for the next fall semester.”

6. Middlebury College


“Middlebury has long been at the forefront in endorsing the concept of taking time off between high school and college through our February admissions program. The students who enroll here in February typically bring more to their college experience and, as a result, derive more from it. They also hold a disproportionately high number of leadership positions on campus and, on average, perform better academically. Every year some students who are admitted for September choose to defer their enrollment for an entire year and step off the academic treadmill. Many benefit greatly from the opportunity to travel, work, or pursue other interests, and all of those options can help contribute to an even more enriching college experience, much as happens for our ‘Febs.’ Students admitted for the September class (we also have a class that enters in February, and they have a built in gap-semester) need to deposit at Middlebury, and then need to submit a proposal to our office requesting a gap year. The gap year plans should be communicated in writing to our office by no later than June 1st. Students can submit gap year proposals to deanofadmissions@middlebury.edu. We do not have scholarships. All financial aid is need-based. Students will most likely need to reapply for financial aid at Middlebury, but unless there are significant changes to the financial circumstances, most often the aid award will be similar to the original aid award.”

7. Texas Christian University


“For deferrals, all that needs to be done is to submit a request in writing, then to pay the $500 Tuition Deposit. No need to re-apply for scholarships. All students everywhere in the US, though, would have to re-apply for financial aid. That’s done on an annual basis everywhere. We are VERY supportive of gap years.”

8. University of Pennsylvania


“You can apply to Penn after a gap year. You would apply as a freshman with all the same requirements, including test results, transcripts, etc. In addition, you would need to submit a supplemental essay to your application explaining why you needed to take a gap year and what you did during that year.”

9. Carnegie Mellon


“Students must first and foremost submit a deposit after being admitted and send us a letter requesting to defer for a year. Students will have to reapply for financial aid. We do not offer merit-based scholarships. Students who are deferring for a year are not allowed to enroll in a degree-granting program at another institution.”

10. Florida State University


“FSU is proud to be one of the few universities in the country (and the second public university) to offer financial assistance to students taking a gap year. Students applying for a gap year deferment will automatically be considered for a scholarship of up to $5,000 to support their gap year. FSU is committed to helping make the transformative opportunities afforded by a gap year accessible to students regardless of their family’s income. … Students admitted for Fall semester who are approved to take a gap year would defer until the following Fall; Summer semester admits would defer until the following Summer semester. High school seniors offered admission to start at FSU in the Spring semester are not eligible for a gap year deferment. Students undertaking a gap year will be invited to participate in structured group activities and reflection upon returning. Once matriculated at FSU, gap year students will be encouraged to build on their gap year experience and connect with the vast curricular and co-curricular programs of FSU, with assistance from offices such as the FSU Center for Leadership and Social Change and the Center for Undergraduate Research & Academic Engagement. Other requirements for students granted a deferment of matriculation can be found online.”

11. Lewis and Clark College


“Students offered admission off of the waitlist are not allowed to defer their enrollment. The deferral option is not intended to allow students to begin or continue their college career elsewhere. A student may not attend another institution on a full-time basis during the time of deferral. Full-time status is considered to be enrollment in 12 or more credits per term. It is assumed that any academic work pursued during the time of deferral will be at a level consistent with or above the student’s record with which she/he gained acceptance to Lewis & Clark College. The College reserves the right to reverse a prior admissions decision based on poor results of academic work completed during the time of deferral. Any student deferring enrollment to the fall semester of the next academic year, who has applied for need-based financial aid, will need to file the necessary forms for the new academic year sometime after January 1 and before our priority filing deadline of February 15. Any student deferring enrollment to the next academic year remains eligible for merit-based scholarships, assuming satisfactory performance in any subsequent academic work. Neely Scholarship recipients must compete with candidates for the new academic year and are guaranteed at least a Trustee Scholarship. Music and Forensics scholarships cannot be deferred; recipients of those talent-based awards must compete with candidates for the new academic year, as well.”

12. Vassar College


“Vassar College welcomes students who wish to do a gap year between high school and college. Here is the wording from our FAQ for prospective students on this topic: Admitted freshman students may, with the permission of the Office of Admission, defer entry to Vassar for one year. Students must first confirm their intent to enroll at Vassar by submitting the Candidate’s Reply Form and the required enrollment deposit by May 1. A written request outlining specific plans for the gap year should also be submitted, preferably along with the enrollment deposit, but by no later than June 1. If deferral status is approved, a formal letter stating the conditions under which the deferral has been granted will be sent to the student. However, students who may be offered admission to Vassar from the waiting list after May 1 are not eligible to request a deferral of admission. In virtually every case, the gap year is approved and the students are told that (1) they may not enroll at another institution as a full-time student during the year, and (2) they must write to us by the end of February of the gap year to re-confirm their intention to enroll the following fall. About 10-12 students defer their admission and do a gap year each year.”

13. Colgate University


“While most students apply for admission with the intention of entering college the fall after graduation, some accepted students may wish to postpone entrance to Colgate for a year. Accepted students who do not matriculate at another institution may request to postpone their enrollment for one year. Students must pay a non-refundable $500 deposit and submit a signed enrollment certificate by May 1. A request to postpone enrollment should be made in writing to the Office of Admission by June 1 of the year admission was offered. Upon approval to postpone enrollment, an additional $500 deposit and a signed deferred enrollment contract are required within ten days to hold the student’s place in the class. Students applying for financial assistance must file the Financial Aid PROFILE with the College Scholarship Service (CSS) and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) with the federal processor by Feb. 1 of the year of intended fall enrollment. Candidates may expect notification of financial aid awards by early April of the spring before entrance.”

14. Columbia University


“Yes. A candidate who has been offered first-year admission may ask to defer enrollment for a year to work, travel, complete mandatory military service or pursue a special opportunity. A student may not defer admission in order to enroll full-time at another college or university. A second year of deferral may be granted upon request. Students must request a deferral in writing by May 15 after submitting their first-year response form and deposit. Transfer students are not permitted to defer their admission.”

15. Wesleyan University


“Deferred enrollment requests must be submitted in writing (letter or email) and approved by June 1st. Upon approval, Wesleyan will grant deferred admission for one year. Typically, 20 to 25 students are granted deferred matriculation in each class. In order to obtain approval, applicants must submit a plan for their gap year. Students granted a deferral cannot make any further admission applications to other institutions or enroll full time in any other institution of higher education. Interested students must also submit their admission deposit by May 1st. Once the student’s request for deferment is received and, if approved, a formal letter acknowledging their deferred status will be sent. An essay, briefly describing deferral activities and reaffirming intention to enroll at Wesleyan is required by March 1st of the deferral year.”

16. Harvey Mudd College


“After admission, the student can fill out the commitment form to indicate plans to enroll in the immediate next term (fall) or to take a gap year. There are also students who indicate they will enter in the fall when they make the commitment to attend in May, but later in the summer determine that a gap year is in the plans. This is also acceptable. Typically the student must meet certain enrollment obligations, must pay the commitment deposit, and must write a short explanation of what is planned for the gap year. Students must reapply for any need-based aid awards, but any merit awards can be deferred for the year.”

17. Colorado College


“Each year, approximately 30 admitted students elect to delay the start of their Colorado College education by designing and pursuing a year-long adventure of their own making. An additional 40 students admitted to our Winter Start program will embark on a personalized semester-long gap experience in the fall before reuniting with their classmates in January to enroll in their first block. If you’re considering a year-long or semester-long gap experience, whether your gap plan is built on US soil or abroad, or both, we are likely to support your gap request because we believe that making a difference in the lives of others will make a difference in your own personal and intellectual growth.”

18. Illinois Institute of Technology


“Students have up to two semesters to defer an offer of admission. There are some specific requirements the student has to follow for the deferral. Here is the link to our forms page which includes deferment forms for the fall and spring semester: http://www.iit.edu/undergrad-admission/apply/forms.shtml. Students are asked not to attend other universities for academic program (language or cultural enrichment classes are not included), they are asked to submit an enrollment deposit, and an explanation of what they plan to do in their gap year. Scholarships offered to the student are not lost, however financial aid may be re-evaluated.”

19. University of Alabama


“As long as you do not receive any academic credit from another institution and meet the December 1 admission deadline for the year you are applying you will be considered. You must notify the Scholarships department in writing of your year off from school. As with any entering freshman, your GPA through your junior year in high school and your test scores from your senior year in high school will be considered. Don’t forget that the October ACT and November SAT during your senior year will be the last test scores considered for scholarships.”

20. Johns Hopkins University


“In some cases, students are permitted to defer their enrollment for up to two years to pursue a travel, work, or family experience that does not include study at another academic institution for credit. Deferrals are considered on an individual basis and must be requested in writing from the Director of Undergraduate Admissions. To request a deferral, you must submit your Reply Form, enrollment deposit, and a letter detailing your plans by the enrollment deposit deadline.”

Ready for your gap year?


Why you should choose an Accredited Gap Year Program

And while serendipity is a blessing, getting home safe and sound, having grown and achieved more than you set out to is probably the reason you decided to take a gap year in the first place.

There are many organizations out there that offer gap year programming. But the truth is, many of them haven’t been vetted by an unbiased third party. The Gap Year Association has been recognized by the US Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission as the standards-setting organization of the gap year industry. They set the standards for not only risk management and safety but also the quality of the experiential education programming, as well as a range of other variables, including how these organizations treat their field staff. It’s a holistic auditing of the entire organization.

“The highest caliber of field leadership, the best degree of office support, and the highest standards of safety.”

And this matters a lot. Think about it, in your lifetime, you’ll probably only have a few opportunities to take a gap year. Why waste it on an experience with a lower probability of success in any given area?

Currently, there are only a few organizations accredited by the GYA, with a growing number of accreditations in progress. That is, they have met “a commitment to the highest standards in safety, quality, and integrity. They have agreed to consistently abide by the standards of the Gap Year Association, which typically means that a student can count on an experience with the highest caliber of field leadership, the best degree of office support, and the highest standards of safety.”

I sat down with several members of the team at Winterline and NOLS to understand exactly what went into the GYA accreditation process. What makes it such a rigorous process? What is the value from an organizational perspective and from a student’s perspective?


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“At the highest level of the organization,” says Nathan Scott, President and Executive Director of Winterline, “the most valuable thing about going through the GYA process was the thorough vetting of our own processes.” The GYA wasn’t just concerned about any single area of expertise, preparation, and response. It was everything, “from how we post job notices, hire employees, treat parents and students, and communicate internally and across continents. This has been a comprehensive review.”

At NOLS, the decision to go for accreditation was worth special consideration. “It took us several months to decide if we wanted to go this route, so there was much vetting of Ethan and the GYA in the first place,” says Kary Sommers, Associate Director of Admission & Marketing at NOLS. “We ultimately decided that it was worth it and it was the route we wanted to take because we believe this ‘stamp of approval’ from the GYA will instill confidence in students and their families seeking adventure, education, and leadership in their gap year.”

For both NOLS and Winterline, the process took more than 9 months from initial conversation, through two waves of document submissions and rigorous analysis before full accreditation. There were 111 standards to be met. “Our job was to provide the GYA with evidence that we were meeting those standards,” said Sharon Seto, Curriculum Advisor at Winterline.

There are four types of feedback from the GYA on whether you’ve met the highest standards of the industry:

  1. Pass
  2. Pass with suggestions
  3. Pass with accolades
  4. Investigate

A “Pass” meant that you’d met the standards. “Pass with suggestions” meant it was up to you to follow through on improving that area. A “Pass with accolades” was the most highly coveted response, meaning that you’d gone above and beyond the standards of the industry. And “Investigate” meant you still had work to do to prove that you’re meeting the standards.

“Who keeps the med kits, who keeps the emergency cash, and how much, who has the emergency phone lines on which days?”

“The hardest part was that these standards might be slightly different for each program,” Sharon explained, having been through different kinds of accreditation four times before. “In our case, we go to so many countries on our gap year program, and are in so many different kinds of work and study environments, we had to meet individual standards with multiple responses.”

Each country needed its own attention, and every protocol needed to be written down. “Who keeps the med kits, who keeps the emergency cash, and how much, who has the emergency phone lines on which days?” she continued.


“What are our students themselves trained to do? You have to have all these medications on hand, but you have to make sure the students don’t have access to it. We had to write enrollment criteria, saying what you needed to be able to do in order to be eligible for our programs: scuba diving, mountain climbing, working with machines, driving, etc. It’s not as simple as say, ‘backpacking.’ It was complicated.”

The point is that an accredited gap year organization was tackling these questions very far in advance, so that students could, with confidence, focus on other elements of the experience. As Nathan put it, “Many of the things were details that hopefully our students and their families will never have to worry about. Things like, ‘What are our insurance limits should anything go very wrong?’ How much cash do we have on hand in these currencies when we’re in X country?”

“A good metaphor is choosing an airline to fly with.”

In Kary’s words, “I was most surprised and impressed by the in-depth nature of the standards, most of which NOLS was able to easily satisfy. However, there were some categories that we did not fit neatly into. The high-level standards, however, make the time and energy invested feel worth it as the first wilderness-focused accredited member of the GYA.”

When you’re planning your own gap year there are many, many things to think about. Gap year programs take some of this weight off the individual as well as offer additional expertise and security.

“A good metaphor is choosing an airline to fly with,” Nathan continued, “something everyone can understand. There’s a level of assurance that no matter what airline you fly with, they’re going to get you from Point A to Point B. And if that’s all you care about, then you can absolutely go with the cheapest, rock bottom provider. But there’s usually more factors than that. Comfort, safety, how the company treats their employees, and so on.”


He continued with the metaphor. “Fundamentally, what happens if my luggage gets lost? Am I with an organization that is able to track my luggage, get it back to me, and get me some restitution in the meantime? Are they insured should they lose my luggage? An accredited organization can give you satisfactory answers to all of these questions. But a non-accredited organization? Maybe they can get your luggage there — but if they don’t, you’re screwed.

“What it means is that we, an accredited organization, not only have a higher chance of a smooth flight, but the question is, what if X happens or Y happens?” An accredited organization has been vetted to have thought through even the most extreme possibilities, so that when something happens, the right people are there at the right time, with the right resources, and the right plan.

“Can you trust an organization that doesn’t go for accreditation?”

To Nathan, one of the most valuable parts of successfully becoming accredited meant joining a standards-based community, one that includes sharing information, holding each other accountable, and supporting each other. “As an accredited member of the GYA, we now have to submit all of our incident reports. This helps the entire industry a lot. For example, it’s good to know that pot pizza is now widely available in Cambodia,” despite being illegal and carrying potentially significant penalties. A gap year program can plan for that when it has the knowledge, and mitigate a wide variety of risks and unfavorable outcomes.

For Kary, the long-term benefit of becoming accredited was acknowledging the importance of an organization like the GYA, as well as “the recognition that NOLS provides high-quality gap and life experiences, and staying relevant in a changing world.”

To Kevin Brennan, Vice President of Finance & Planning, the big question was, can you trust an organization that doesn’t go for accreditation?


“What organizations that don’t seek this kind of approval end up being open to is the charge that they’re not open to the thoughts and ideas of others. An organization that wants to say it’s offering gap year programs but hasn’t sought the imprimatur of the GYA is open to the perception that they don’t want to be looked at too closely. If an organization doesn’t go after the GYA certification, that’s much more likely to put the thought in my head that they don’t want to be reviewed, that they don’t want a critical eye to be brought to their work. And that’s not the most positive stance.”

Kevin remembers a time in the early 1990s when he was a manager for a study abroad program in Kenya, at a time of great political upheaval. By reorganizing the sequence of the program design, he and his team were able to avoid the political violence in that part of the country at the times it was set to occur. Being able to build a plan around ground-level knowledge and expertise creates a bedrock of safety that an outsider can only scrape the surface of. That expertise is exactly what the Gap Year Association seal of approval represents.

As Kevin put it, “In a way, we knew how to ‘read the tea leaves’ because of our experience on the ground, and having done this for years — as staff persons, directors, and employees of organizations. Our experience is itself experiential education. It’s part of what allows me to say that after 25 years in this business, the GYA accreditation process is a good structure, and it’s going to keep growing into itself and improving over the years.”

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How to Plan A Gap Year Like Malia

Many were still unfamiliar with the concept of a gap year and were curious to see what she had in store. Thanks to the help of a number of new sources, we were able to piece together a timeline of Malia’s gap year so far.

If you are a student, currently in the process of gap year planning, I hope this example will inspire you to venture further outside of your comfort zone.

Summer 2016

Malia started off her gap year by following in the political footsteps of her father with a summer internship at the U.S. Embassy in Spain. Normally, the Embassy only accepts upperclassmen and recent college graduates for their coveted internships but in this case, they made an exception. Barack Obama has said in the past that Malia’s Spanish is quite impressive so it stands to reason that she would want to spend her summer embracing a foreign culture on the beautiful streets of Madrid.

Malia and Barack Obama

Photo Credits: Kevin Lamarque | Reuters

Although Malia is familiar with the political world, an internship at the U.S. Embassy allowed her to approach foreign politics from an outsider’s perspective. What are Spain’s concerns when it comes to U.S. politics? How do diplomats work to communicate between these two countries? Nothing can stand in the place of real world experience when it comes to politics. For those interested in pursuing a career in international relations, that global perspective may be just what you need to test the waters and get your foot in the door.

Want to take a gap year with us and visit 10 countries?


Fall 2016

In the fall, Malia traveled to South America in pursuit of another side of Spanish-speaking culture. She joined Where There Be Dragons on their 3-Month Gap Semester program in Bolivia and Peru. Malia spent three months trekking through the mountains, camping in the Amazon and exploring topics such as environmental conservation and social reform — all while improving her Spanish language skills.

Malia Obama Bolivia

Photo Credits: (NYTimes)

A rural, international experience is perfect for those looking to get away from urban life. Maybe you are tired of your hometown and are looking to explore a new place or you want to become fluent in a new language. Immersing yourself in a foreign environment can be humbling and telling for those feeling lost in a bustling city.

Spring & Summer 2017

But the year isn’t over yet! Sources have confirmed that Malia will spend the remainder of her gap year interning under Harry Weinstein of Weinstein Company. Known for the creation of several award winning films such as Django Unchained, Silver Linings Playbook, and Inglorious Basterds, Weinstein Company is one of Hollywood’s great independent production companies.


Photo Credits: Hollywood Life

This isn’t Malia’s first time working in the entertainment industry. In the summer of 2015, she spent time interning for HBO’s Girls and inspired the show’s writer and star, Lena Dunham, with her can-do attitude. “She wanted to do all the jobs. That was the cool thing. She was totally enthusiastic,” Dunham said to Howard Stern on The Howard Stern Show. Although an intro-level position in the entertainment industry is often monotonous, being where the action is and absorbing what you see happening around you can be invaluable at a young age.

What this means for you: Tips

If Malia’s gap year can teach us anything, it’s that the best gap year is made of a variety of experiences. If you’re a high school student going through the process of gap year planning, consider approaching the task in this way.

Rather than finding one activity to consume all your time, break your year into chunks and dedicate a few months at a time to each of your interests. Give yourself a chance to test out a handful of options and you may be surprised by what activities resonate with you the most. A bevy of unique and challenging experiences will prepare you for the adversity you may face in college and beyond.

While traveling the world, our students try out a hundred different skills over the course of our 9-Month Program; some more and less appealing to some than others. At Winterline, that pedagogy of exposure and experience drives our Global Skills Gap Year Program.

By the end of the year, students have a strong understanding of their likes and dislikes and what areas of study they would like to pursue further. They come home having learned something about themselves and the world — and that’s the most valuable gift you can give yourself from a year off from school.

Ready to travel the world on a gap year?


100 Celebrities Who Took Time Off for a Gap Year or Study Abroad

At some point in your life, you’re probably going to want to wander, to see as much as can be seen, to learn as much as can be learned, to travel as far as can be traveled. And we highly recommend it!

The benefits of a gap year, of studying abroad, of and traveling include everything from newfound perspective, personal ambition, and even skills.

Take it from these famous individuals — getting out of your regular mold can be hugely influential on the many ways you define success in your life.

1. Steve Jobs

He famously started Apple, with all its iconic imagery and minimalist aesthetic. But what’s less well known is that he spent months living in India, meditating in the mountains and learning how to tap into what was important to him. He contracted lice, dysentery, and eventually scabies before running out of money and returning home to start a new project, the original Mac.

2. J.K. Rowling

jk rowling

J.K. Rowling spent three years teaching english as a foreign language in Portugal. During this time, Harry Potter went from being an idea on a piece of paper to the first three chapters of Harry Potter & the Philosopher’s Stone. Her time spent in a new country allowed her to craft her vision of the young wizarding world and a yearning for the British landscape.

3. Bradley Cooper

Bradley Cooper

Well before shooting The Hangover, Bradley Cooper spent 6 months in Aix-en-Provence in the south of France, studying French. He is supposedly fluent. “When I was a kid, I remember watching Chariots of Fire. And French is the official language of the Olympics. So there’s a scene where a guy was speaking French and I thought, ‘Man, that sounds so cool. I want to learn French.'”

4. Emma Watson

Emma Watson

A gap year doesn’t always have to be a break from the intellect. In fact, Emma Watson decided to take a break from her acting career to study feminism and gender studies, committing herself to reading a new book every week as personal study.

5. Vera Wang

Vera Wang

Vera Wang, the iconic designer, spent a semester studying abroad in France at the University of Paris-Sorbonne. According to her biographer, Katherine Krohn, it was in Paris that “the architecture, fashion, and design of Paris inspired her, and reawakened her lifelong love of art”.

6. Matthew McConaughey

Matthew McConaughey

This A-lister spent a gap year in Warnervale, New South Wales, Australia, where he apparently never picked up the accent. “I always had a wanderlust for travelling and I wanted to take a year off to go take an adventure, and it was.”

7. Henry Louis Gates Jr.

The Director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University and Alphonse Fletcher University Professor famously studied abroad at Cambridge University, eventually getting a doctoral degree in English literature.

8. Angela Davis

Angela Davis

Angela Davis came up in the 1960s as a powerful political activist and academic scholar. Before that, she spent her junior year of college studying abroad at the Sorbonne in France and went on to do graduate study in Frankfurt and Berlin, Germany.

9. Elon Musk

Elon Musk

Elon Musk is a well known entrepreneur who co-founded Paypal, Tesla and SpaceX. He was born and raised in South Africa but studied at Queen’s University in Canada, and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in the United States.

10. Nigella Lawson

Now a famous British Chef, Nigella Lawson took a gap year to study Italian cooking, working as a maid to pay the bills. She found inspiration for her first cookbook there. “You forget how brave you are when you are young. My school friend and I went everywhere asking for work, and we ended up [as chambermaids] in this little place on a road that leads from the Duomo to the Piazza della Signoria. We shared the job and a room that was so small you had to climb over the bed to get to the loo.”

11. Prince Harry

When he was 19, he traveled to Australia to learn how to be a cattle-hand, and Lesotho where he helped build local infrastructure including a health clinic and a road bridge. He has since spent time studying in Nepal as well.

12. Hugh Jackman

Before X-Men’s Wolverine took to the big screen, he spent a gap year working as a teaching assistant at Uppingham School in the United Kingdom.

13. Elizabeth Gilbert

Elizabeth Gilbert

Her famous book, Eat, Pray, Love came from a long personal adventure through Italy, Indonesia, and India. It has sold over 10 million copies.

14. Kobe Bryant

Before becoming an 18-time NBA All Star, he lived 6 years of his life in Italy. He speaks both Spanish and Italian fluently.

15. Prince William

The Duke of Cambridge took a gap year in Belize, training with the Welsh Guards, teaching English in Chile, traveling in Africa, and working on a dairy farm in the United Kingdom.

16. Malia Obama

Malia Obama

Malia Obama took a gap year after graduating from her high school and her White House life before attending Harvard. In the fall, Malia traveled to Bolivia and Peru for extensive homestays and spanish language immersion. Multiple news sources say that she spent rest of her gap year interning with Harry Weinstein of Weinstein Company. Malia has shown her interest in film before while interning on the set of HBO’s Girls and TNT’s Extant starring Halle Berry. Although Malia has already been admitted to Harvard University, the year off will likely give her a myriad of experiences that will make her transition into college life easier and more fulfilling.

17. Katie Ledecky

Katie Ledecky

Katie deferred enrollment to Stanford University to go full time on swimming for the 2016 Olympics Games. She has broken thirteen records over her career and currently holds the world records for the 400-, 800-, and 1500-meter freestyle. She was the most decorated female athlete in the Rio Olympics.

18. Benedict Cumberbatch

Benedict Cumberbatch

When he was 19, he traveled throughout the Himalayas, living with a Nepali family outside Darjeeling, and teaching English to Tibetan monks and nuns. “They were amazingly warm, intelligent, humorous people. Hard to teach English to. I built a blackboard, which no other previous teachers seem to have done. With 12 monks in a room with an age-range of about 8 to 40, that’s quite important – and the reward-punishment thing of sweets or no sweets, or game or no game, worked quite well. But they taught me a lot more than I could possibly ever teach them. They taught me about the simplicity of human nature, but also the humanity of it, and the ridiculous sense of humor you need to live a full spiritual life.”

19. Mike Myers

Mike Myers

After finishing high school and despite landing a gig at Second City, the prestigious Chicago-based comedy hall, Mike Myers flew to England for a gap year, where he became a founding member of the London Comedy Tour Players, starred in a British children’s TV program, and traveled all around the British Isles.

20. Aung San Suu Kyi

Aung San Suu Kyi

A Burmese native, Aung San Suu Kyi studied in New Delhi, India, at the prestigious, Lady Shri Ram College. She then continued onto the United Kingdom, completing her undergraduate degree at Oxford in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics, and her PhD at the School of Oriental and African Studies.

21. Pres. Barack Obama

Barack Obama

As a child, the former POTUS lived for 3 years in Jakarta, Indonesia. During college, he traveled to Hyderabad, India, and later Kenya, and Bali, where he completed his book Dreams from My Father.

22. Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin

When he was 22, Darwin got an invitation from his friend and mentor, John Stevens Henslow, asking him to join him on a trip to the Galapagos. Although Darwin’s plan was to become a clergyman and his father objected to the trip, Darwin decided to go anyway. His theory of natural selection, which came out of observations he made on that trip, has become the dominant force in the biological sciences. It not only defines how we understand species, ecosystems, and what he called “evolution,” it has shaped food sciences, the medical sciences, and more. He describes that trip as “by far the most important event in my life. It determined my whole career.”

23. Kate Middleton

Kate Middleton

Now the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton spent her gap year in Florence, Italy with the British Institute, studying art and literature, hanging out with friends, and spending time at the Uffizi Gallery.

24. Mahatma Gandhi


Gandhi first left home to study in the United Kingdom at age 18. He studied to become a barrister, a high court lawyer, before returning home in India to fight for his nation’s independence.

25. Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney

As a 19-year old Mormon, Mitt Romney spent two years doing missionary work in France after his first year at Stanford University. He learned French and European literature, and his time there helped shape his political views that he then brought home with him for completing his undergraduate studies and moving onto Harvard for a joint JD/MBA program.

26. Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa was born and raised in Macedonia and Albania and went on to complete her schooling at Loreto Abbey in Ireland. Her missionary work took her to Darjeeling, India at the age of eighteen where her experiences led her to pursue a life of service and charity work — and global renown.

27. Karlie Kloss

Karlie Kloss

This famous model took time off between high school and college to pursue her career. She returned to her studies, like most gap year students, and graduated from the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at New York University.

28. Mark Zuckerberg

Mark Zuckerberg

In the early days of Facebook, Mark famously dropped out of school to work on his new project full time. What is less well known, is that while the company was going through a rough patch, at the advice of his friend and mentor, Steve Jobs, Mark traveled to India to spend time in an Ashram founded by the sadhu, Neem Karoli Baba. The aim was to connect with the deeper mission of his company, and see a way through the difficult times. “[Steve] told me that in order to reconnect with what I believed as the mission of the company, I should visit this temple that he had gone to in India, early on in his evolution of thinking about what he wanted Apple and his vision of the future to be. It reinforced for me the importance of what we were doing.”

29. Reed Hastings

Reed Hastings

If you’re spending yet another night curled up watching Netflix movies, you’ve got one man to thank for that: CEO Reed Hastings. After completing his undergraduate at Bowdoin College, Hastings joined the Peace Corps for two years before eventually going to graduate school at Stanford University. During his time with the Peace Corps, he taught high school math in Swaziland, an adventure that widened his understanding of the world. In an interview, Hasting said of that time in his life, “It was an extremely satisfying experience. Taking smart risks can be very gratifying.”

30. Bill O’Reilly

Bill O'Reilly

The provocative TV anchor and author, Bill O’Reilly, spent his junior year studying in London at Queen Mary College, taking time off from his studies at Marist College.

31. Bob Vila

Bob Vila

Bob Vila is the host of the popular television show This Old House. Vila took time off to work with the Peace Corps in Panama. He constructed houses and worked toward building up communities. This ultimately led him to pursue a master’s degree in architecture. His love of construction never waned and he went on to work in home-renovation and television for the majority of his career.

32. Chris Matthews

Chris Matthews

After graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the celebrated news commentator at NBC and MSNBC actually spent two years in his youth, living and volunteering in Swaziland, with the Peace Corps.

33. The Beatles

The Bleates

After graduating from high school, The Beatles moved to Hamburg, Germany as music apprentices, learning how to take their music to the next level. As John Lennon put it, “I was born in Liverpool but grew up in Hamburg.”

34. Ed Sheeran

Ed Sheeran

About a year ago, Ed Sheeran decided to leave his celebrity lifestyle and take a gap year to travel. Sheeran burned his foot in a geyser in Iceland, traveled through Japan, and went white water rafting in Fiji. His most impactful experience, however, seems to have been on the beautiful island of New Zealand. He fell in love with the country while bungee jumping and hanging out with Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson that he is now hoping to move there completely. As he told one UK newspaper, “I did ask for citizenship and I think we got an email from someone involved with that. So maybe that’s going to happen. I could be a citizen.” By stepping outside of his life, Sheeran was able to discover something new which may just be the next best thing.

35. Marco Polo

Marco Polo Mosaic

At the ripe age of 17, Marco Polo began the journey that would mold him as one of the greatest travel writers of his time. His accounts of East Asia were some of the first ever recorded for Europeans and led many to become more interested in travel including the well-known, Christopher Columbus.

36. Lin-Manuel Miranda

Lin-Manuel Miranda

Although many know Lin-Manuel Miranda for his latest victory, Hamilton, his earlier musical In The Heights was also a Tony-winning masterpiece. After work on In The Heights was completed, Miranda found himself in need of a vacation from the theatrical world. It was on a beach trip with his current wife that he first read Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow, the book that would inspire the musical we all know and love. If Miranda hadn’t taken this break from his day to day life, he may never have found this piece of inspiration — which goes to show that time off can be exactly what one needs to get those creative juices flowing.

37. Mark Twain

Mark Twain Portrait by Abdullah Freres

Mark Twain’s “The Innocents Abroad” is one of the best-selling travel books of all time. While still a young man, he boarded the USS Quaker City headed for distant shores in the Mediterranean and the Middle East. It was on this trip that he honed his infamous wit and comedic bite, as well as his own ironic self-deprecation.

38. William James “Bill” Murray

Bill Murray

The Ghostbuster, Groundhog Day, and Golden Globe cult star actually took four years off of acting to study philosophy and history at the Sorbonne in Paris, France.

39. Kofi Annan

Kofi Annan

Kofi Annan was born in Ghana and served as the seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations for nearly ten years. When he was younger, he attended school in Switzerland and the US, earning advanced degrees in International Relations and Management.

40. Mark Hammill

Mark Hammill

Also known as Luke Skywalker, Mark Hammill actually began studying drama in Japan, in his junior year of high school when his father was stationed there. A few years later, he applied those skills to The Force, “the energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us; it binds the galaxy together.”

41. Paul Theroux

Novelist Paul Edward Theroux spent time volunteering in Malawi with the Peace Corps in one of its original volunteer cohorts. While in Malawi, he worked as a teacher and began writing. This experience developed his interest in travel and would lead him to travel by train through Eurasia, Central America, Africa and Europe. Each of these experiences led to a detailed travel writing book that included descriptions of the people and places Theroux encountered during his travels. He is now a famous writer.

42. Mildred D. Taylor

Mildred D. Taylor

Born in Jackson, Mississippi, the multiple recipient of the Boston Globe Horn Book Award, the Jane Addams Book Award, the Coretta Scott King Award, and the Christopher Award spent two years serving in the Peace Corps in Ethiopia, teaching English and History before returning home to the United States.

43. Alice Malsenior Walker

Author of The Color Purple, poet, and activist, Alice studied abroad in Kenya and Uganda with the Experiment in International Living.

44. Gene Wilder

Gene Wilder

Before becoming Willy Wonka, Gene Wilder graduated from the University of Iowa, then studied abroad at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School in Bristol, England, and was in fact a champion fencer.

45. Sec. Donna Shalala

Former U.S Secretary of Health, Donna Shalala, volunteered with the Peace Corps in Iran from 1962-1964. In an interview, Shalala stated, “I was tired of school and I wanted adventure.” She worked in a remote Iranian village and helped build an agricultural college during her time with the Peace Corps. Shalala still considers herself a Peace Corps volunteer and that mindset impacts how she approaches her day-to-day life. “My service in Iran was one of the most important experiences of my youth.”

46. Shirley Chisholm

Shirley Chisholm

The first African American woman elected to Congress, Shirley Chisholm first left the United States at the age of two for Barbados, beginning a long career of advocacy for people of differing backgrounds and opinions.

47. Jack Harries & Finn Harries


Jack & Finn Harries, the talent duo behind the hit Youtube Channel, Jacksgap, spent their gap year developing a huge internet following by creating fun and entertaining videos and travel blogs. Profits raised through their Youtube endeavors allowed the twins to travel to many countries such as Thailand, India, and Sri Lanka. What started off as a year of fun became a career in the field of video production and Jack Harries decided to ditch college altogether to work on the channel full time. Finn did go to college, but the year off made him decide to go to school in the United States and pursue architecture, a major he had not considered before. In regards to his gap year, Jack Harries said, “In our parents’ day, kids used to listen to rock-and-roll music in their bedrooms as a form of rebellion…this is our little rebellion. YouTube is our world. Whatever happens next, it’s been a great gap year.”

48. Chyna

Bodybuilder, wrestler, and Peace Corps volunteer in Costa Rica, where she taught literacy for two years, from 1993-1995.

49. Emily Blunt

Emily Blunt

Emily Blunt is currently planning to move her family back to England in the hopes that a gap year will allow her kids to experience the same sort of childhood she was exposed to. “It’s mostly about the family,” a source told Heat Magazine. “Emily is a little homesick, and she doesn’t want her kids to grow up not knowing their English family or roots. She wants them to experience the same things she did as a child: bangers and mash suppers and cold winters.”

50. Sen. Chris Dodd

Senator Chris Dodd

Senator from Connecticut for 30 years, from 1981-2011, Chris spent two years in the Dominican Republic as a Peace Corps volunteer, where he became fluent in Spanish. He has spent time serving as the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Motion Picture Association of America.

51. Scott Harrison

Scott Harrison

Scott Harrison started out as a club promoter in New York City. After a missionary trip to West Africa with Mercy Ships, he came face to face with extreme poverty and decided to spend the rest of his life working to eradicate it. He founded Charity Water, an organization that works to provide clean water to people in developing countries.

52. Julian Casablancas

The Strokes

The lead vocalist of The Strokes, Julian Casablancas, spent half a year studying in Switzerland when he was a teenager. It was at this school that he met Albert Hammond Junior who would later help him form their successful rock band.

53. Blake Mycoskie

Blake Mycoskie

Blake Mycoskie is the founder of TOMS, a retail company that began with a promise to donate a pair of shoes for every pair of shoes purchased. Before the company was born, Mycoskie was a contestant on CBS’s The Amazing Race where he traveled across the globe competing against other American participants. When he went to Argentina for the show, he saw that many of the children walking around Buenos Aires were barefoot and those who were playing sports wore canvas shoes. After this experience, Mycoskie decided he wanted to find a way to help and founded TOMS. TOMS has since expanded into selling other products such as glasses, bags and fair trade coffee. In an interview, Mycoskie said “I wish people would take more adventures to some of these countries and stimulate their economies and learn about what’s going on and do that for vacations.”

54. Kristi Yamaguchi

American Olympic Figure Skater Kristi Yamaguchi spent time studying Psychology abroad in Canada at the University of Edmonton where she also trained for her high-profile international competitions.

55. Gwyneth Paltrow

Gwyneth Paltrow

In addition to her well-known films, Gwyneth spends time returning to the place she studied abroad in high school in Talavera de la Reina, Spain. “I never looked back, and I did not want to go home. The next time I went I was nineteen, and I have gone basically once a year at least ever since.”

56. Atul Gawande

Atul Gawande

The New Yorker writer, journalist, and surgeon, was born in the United States, but studied abroad, getting a degree as a Rhodes Scholar from Balliol College at the University of Oxford in 1989.

57. Bill Clinton

Bill Clinton

Bill Clinton won the esteemed Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University in the United Kingdom. Although he didn’t graduate there, he gained perspective on the Vietnam War from an outsider’s perspective while in Oxford and began protesting vehemently against the war.

58. Gael Garcia Bernal

Gael Garcia Bernal

Star of Amazon’s Mozart in the Jungle and The Motorcycle Diaries, Gael Garcia Bernal was born and raised in Mexico and traveled to the United Kingdom in the hopes of getting proper acting training. His time in London helped him develop his craft as a performer and has led to his success in movies and television.

59. Desmond Tutu

Desmond Tutu

Desmond Tutu earned both his Master’s and his Bachelor’s degree in the United Kingdom. When asked about his time in England, he said “I have wonderful, happy memories of my time at King’s. My experience was one of great encouragement and support in my academic studies and an acceptance and warmth from my fellow students.”

60. Dan Brown

Dan Brown November 2015

The author of the Da Vinci Code spent a year in Seville, Spain studying art history, the very subject that features so heavily in his famous book. It has sold more than 80 million copies worldwide.

61. Elena Kagan

Elena Kagan

The Fourth Female Supreme Court Justice of the United States famously studied abroad in the United Kingdom on a scholarship after finishing her degree at Princeton University. She was also the first female dean of Harvard Law School.

62. George Harrison

George Harrison

The influence of sitar, tanpura, tabla, sarod, pakhavaj, sarangi, and the dholak are not by accident in many famous Beatles songs. George Harrison’s trip to India dramatically changed the direction, both musically and politically, of him and his fellow bandmates. He started the first “goodwill concert”, raising funds for UNICEF with his Concert for Bangladesh. As he said, “I remember thinking I just want more. This isn’t it. Fame is not the goal. Money is not the goal. To be able to know how to get peace of mind, how to be happy, is something you don’t just stumble across. You’ve got to search for it.”

63. Ben Fogle

Ben Fogle

The adventurer, Ben Fogle, studied abroad in Costa Rica, where he went through a program on Latin American studies, inevitably paving the way for his later accomplishments.

64. Tim Rice

Tim Rice

The famous lyricist of The Wizard of Oz, Beauty and the Beast, Jesus Christ Superstar, and The Lion King, studied abroad in France, at the Sorbonne in Paris.

65. Kristin Scott Thomas

Kristin Scott Thomas

British actress Kristin Scott Thomas traveled to Paris, France when she was still a teenager to work as an au pair. She fell in love with the country and went on to study and pursue an acting career in Paris.

66. Sec. John Kerry

John Kerry

The American diplomat, politician, and Secretary of State spent years living in France and Norway, and attributes his “self-confidence, survival skills, language abilities and interest in public life” to those years.

67. John Ellis “Jeb” Bush

Jeb Bush

At age 17, Jeb Bush, the 43rd Governor of Florida from 1999 to 2007, traveled on a high school exchange program to Leon, Guanajuato, Guatemala, where he eventually met his future wife, Columba Garnica Gallo.

68. Joely Richardson

Joely Richardson

Originally from London, Joely went to school in the United States from the age of 12 up on a tennis scholarship.

69. Gloria Steinem

Gloria Steinem

Well-known feminist and journalist Gloria Steinem is also known for having spent time abroad. After college, Steinem lived in India for two years to help young women organize against injustice. This experience sparked her interest in working in women’s rights and she continued to fight against these injustices throughout her career.

70. Sen. John McCain

John McCain

Born on a military base in Panama, McCain grew up at 20 different schools and military bases around the Pacific and in the US, certainly playing a role in his monumental commitment to his country.

71. Freddie Mercury

Freddie Mercury New Haven Connecticut

The lead singer of Queen, famous for so many great rock epics, including We Are The Champions, Bohemian Rhapsody, and Another One Bites The Dust, was actually born in Zanzibar (present day Tanzania), raised in India, and went to school in London. His global perspective clearly played a role in his songwriting and performance style.

72. Siddhartha Mukherjee

Siddhartha Mukherjee

Originally from India, this famous science writer studied abroad at Stanford University, and later Harvard Medical School.

73. Penelope Cruz

Penelope Cruz

Penelope Cruz traveled from Spain to New York to spend several years studying at Cristina Rota’s drama school.

74. Harper Lee

Harper Lee

Famous for publishing her canonical, “To Kill A Mockingbird,” Harper Lee left home in her junior year at the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, to be an exchange student at the University of Oxford, in England.

75. Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein

His theory of relativity has been dubbed “the world’s most famous equation.” But it’s not clear he ever would have accomplished his many great feats of mathematics and physics had it not been for the amount of traveling and exchanging ideas with other giants in the field and in other fields. Through his life he lived in seven different countries, evolving strong views on not only physics, political structures, and music. In addition, the cross-over synesthesia between Mozart and theoretical physics could have played a substantial role in his greatest work. As he said, “If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music. I get most joy in life out of music.”

76. Ang Lee

Ang Lee is an award winning director known for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Life of Pi and Brokeback Mountain. Born and raised in Taiwan, he chose to study abroad in the United States, completing both his Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Illinois and New York respectively.

77. Colin Firth

Colin Firth

Colin Firth was born in England. His parents were both in academic fields and because of this, he spent much of his childhood abroad in Nigeria and St. Louis, Missouri.

78. Augusta Savage

Augusta Savage

Augusta Savage was a well known African-American sculptor during the Harlem Renaissance. In 1929, she was able to travel to Paris, France to study sculpture at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière.

79. James Baldwin

James Baldwin

James Baldwin, a well known writer during the civil rights movement, took time away from the United States while producing a work of nonfiction on his experience growing up in Harlem. He moved to France because he believed it would help him write more honestly about his home. He spent many other years traveling in Istanbul, Switzerland, and France, but his writing always acted as a reflection on his home in America, and as a provocation for change.

80. Isla Fisher

Isla Fisher

Australian actress, Isla Fisher, spent a semester studying theater at L’École Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq in Paris. It was after this experience that she began pursuing acting as a career.

81. Paul Rudd

Paul Rudd Actor

The American actor and comedian put his academic career on hold to travel to the United Kingdom to study Jacobean theater at the British American Drama Academy.

82. J.M. Coetzee


The Nobel Laureate in Literature was born in South Africa, but that didn’t stop him from pursuing a PhD in Linguistics as a Fulbright scholar at the University of Texas at Austin.

83. Ashley Judd

Ashley Judd 2014

To deepen her understanding of French, her major, Ashley Judd flew to Paris to live and immerse herself in the language.

84. Wolf Blitzer

Wolf Blitzer

The CNN anchor and reporter was actually born in Germany, raised in the United States, and studied abroad, completing a master’s degree at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel and Johns Hopkins University.

85. Cole Porter

Cole Porter

The famous jazz composer and songwriter, born in the United States, studied orchestration and counterpoint at the Schola Cantorum in Paris, France. He’s a notable character in the contemporary Owen Wilson film, Midnight In Paris.

86. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

The famous author, speaker, and visionary was born and bred in Nigeria, but did her studies at Eastern Connecticut University, Johns Hopkins University, and later, Yale University. Her stories of getting through oversimplified narratives and toward a more realistic understanding of our differences are a well-known viral phenomenon.

87. Henry James

Henry James

The “literary giant” was famous for his writings on Americans living abroad. He moved to England in 1876, where he composed many influential novels, including Daisy Miller, and The Portrait of a Lady.

88. Lewis and Clark


Lewis and Clark went off to find a clear water route throughout North America and to bring information about plants animals and the land’s inhabitants back to Thomas Jefferson. Their journey led them to the pacific northwest and Lewis kept a detailed log of their journey and their interactions with the Native American people. Their expedition opened America’s eyes to the possibility that lay in this uncharted land and inspired many others to journey in search of all the potential the American West had to offer.

89. Chris Pine

Chris Pine

Chris Pine took a year off from his studies at UC Berkeley to study at Leeds University in England.

90. Jeremy Piven

Before becoming one of the main actors on the show Entourage. He fell in love with acting while studying Shakespeare at the National Theater in London.

91. Ursula K. Le Guin

The famous novelist and short story author was a Fulbright scholar, studying in France the year after college.

92. Maggie Gyllenhaal

Maggie Gyllenhaal

Maggie Gyllenhaal decided to travel abroad to the United Kingdom to study theater at the Royal Academy of the Dramatic Arts in London.

93. Olivia Wilde

Olivia Wilde

Olivia Wilde studied abroad in Ireland where she focused on the performance arts at the Gaiety School of Acting in Dublin.

94. Tia Mowry

Tia Mowry

Credits: IMDb

Tia Mowry studied at Pepperdine University and spent a semester abroad in Florence, Italy where she studied Italian and the humanities.

95. Amartya Sen

This Nobel Laureate and renowned development economist was born and raised in Calcutta, but went to college at Trinity College in the United Kingdom before returning home to conduct some of his most influential and groundbreaking research.

96. Jack Kerouac

Jack Kerouac

The idea of a gap year in North America as a form of self discovery may be attributable to Jack Kerouac’s great work, On The Road, a novel that catalogs Jack’s travels with his friends across the United States. After dropping out of Columbia University, Kerouac spent time working on a number of sailing vessels before going on the journey that inspired the novel. The characters in On The Road are vivid and complex and the novel soon became a testament to youth culture in the late 40s – early 50s. Without having traveled, Kerouac may have never made the observations that inspired these characters or developed the characteristic voice that made the novel so epic.

97. Bill Bryson

Bill Bryson is a bestselling author who has written on everything from travel to science to Britain’s history and identity. While in the United States, Bill Bryson took time off to walk the Appalachian Trail with a friend. This walk inspired his book, A Walk in the Woods, which was adapted as a movie in 2015.

98. Ibn Battuta

Ibn Battuta Oil Painting

Ibn Battuta, the Moroccan scholar who traveled extensively through North Africa and the Middle East, accounted his findings in a book called Travels. He is one of the most famous travelers in the history of the world.

99. T.S. Eliot


T.S. Eliot moved to the United Kingdom in his late 20s to attend Merton College, Oxford. His poetry and playwriting brought him so much fame in the UK that in 1927 he relinquished his US citizenship to become a British subject.

100. Sir Richard Francis Burton

Sir Richard Francis Burton

The famous English explorer and linguist spoke 29 different languages, was a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and awarded a knighthood, and yet never completed a college degree, having been expelled from Trinity College in Oxford. His work in defying the ethnocentrism of the day was groundbreaking in many respects.

You made it! Interested in taking a gap year with us? Explore our programs!

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4 Free Tools and Tips for Teens with Money

At times, money management seems like the best kept secret in the world, and long term investing can feel like a tool closed off for the fiercest wolves of Wall Street.

One of the many skills Winterline teaches during the 9-month and 12-week Global Skills Program is financial literacy. Financial literacy can be summed up as the ability to understand the way finances work in the world as well as understanding the short-term and long-term implications of each financial choice.

Winterline believes these are important skills to develop, especially before college – a time when student loans and debt accumulation are major concerns for many. It’s never too early to start getting familiar with financial literacy and the internet is a great place to start! As an intern at Winterline, I spent a number of days researching financial literacy resources for our International Business & Entrepreneurship Program. While scouring these different sites, I was able to pick up on major trends in financial literacy resources as well as find the ones that appeared to be most effective. Here are a few great financial education resources that stood out as most valuable during my search. Enjoy!

Financial Avenue Blog


Financial Avenue was made specifically for college students and teenagers. The language is stripped down in a way that makes each article and video easy to digest in a short amount of time. Financial Avenue also includes a blog that produces articles on everything from tax filing options to demystifying the credit score.

If you have questions about the FAFSA, student loans and how to begin building your credit, this website works. They even have a page of resources dedicated to loan repayment which includes a repayment calculator that factors in interest levels.

CNN Money Essentials


For those who are just beginning to address the concept of long term financial decisions, this resource is the one for you.

The CNN Money Essentials website is split into seven different categories that are meant to span a lifetime of spending: Getting a Job, Buying a Car, Starting to Invest, Buying a Home, Starting a Family, and Retirement Planning. Each category is then split into several articles that explore all aspects of the topic from taxes, to explanations of the stock market, to investment options and more.

By reviewing all the topics or just choosing to focus on a few, you can get a basic introduction to the world of finance and the pros and cons of each financial decision. The website doesn’t address student loans directly but it does discuss what credit and loans are in a more holistic manner.

The Mint App & Life Blog


Do you ever find yourself wondering about a specific financial question? Maybe you’re curious what the difference between a debit and a credit card is or you just want a few tips on how to save up for that cool new camera.

The Mint Life Blog came about soon after the Mint app was made available to smartphone users. Mint is a budgeting app that tracks your spending patterns and gives financial advice based on the way you spend money on food, entertainment, living expenses, etc. This app is a great tool for those who want to start analyzing their spending but are not quite sure where to start.

The Mint Life Blog publishes weekly articles that address every financial question you could possibly think of. In addition, you can send in your unanswered questions to be discussed online by financial specialists. It’s a great resource for learning quick small facts but does not offer the same format as some of the other platforms.

Wells Fargo Financial Education


Wells Fargo created an online financial education platform like CNN Money Essentials in which financial topics are split into categories and each category includes several articles that delve deeper into the subject. Wells Fargo beats CNN’s option when it comes to educational financing information. Their money habits advice takes into consideration the limits of work during college and the expectations of the job hunt post-graduation. If you want to teach your child how to make a budget, save for college, and understand loan services, this is the website for you.

In Boston this summer?


Now perhaps your concern is that your teen is not going to enjoy looking through all these websites, or at best won’t follow through. Although the information is all there, these platforms are not the most entertaining.

Winterline is premiering a brand new program, How Money Works, this summer in Cambridge, MA. The week-long, non-residential intensive focuses on developing these financial literacy muscles in a fun and modern way.

Using a hyper-modern curriculum, combining app-based learning, graphic novels, and multiple site visits, the program aligns with our hands-on, experiential approach to learning that takes the hypothetical out of financial literacy and applies these ideas to real world scenarios.

Interested in learning more?

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Our President’s Statement on the Recent Executive Order on Immigration

Winterline Global Education is dedicated to offering unique skills-based learning experiences to students of ALL nationalities. Our students come from all parts of the world and are greatly enriched by their contact with peers from all over the world. As students, they travel widely, learning diverse skills in diverse parts of the globe and are warmly welcomed outside the United States.

It is counter to Winterline’s values that under the current minority-elected administration’s Executive Order, students from certain parts of the world are not welcomed or allowed into the United States, Winterline’s home country.

Appreciation for the diversity of experience, opinion, and perspective forms the basis of a global education. Banning people of a particular nationality, faith or creed, race or identity, sexuality or ethnicity, from entering the US is antithetical to both Winterline’s and our nation’s core values.

Winterline will not be silent in the face of the Executive Order and will continue to stand for and to offer experiences which promote mutual respect and understanding between people of all nations.


Nathan Scott

President & Executive Director


It’s Official! We’ve Been Accredited by the Gap Year Association.

After many long months of document submissions, risk management guidelines, transparency protocol updates and more, we’ve been officially accredited by the Gap Year Association!

You may ask:

What does it mean to be accredited?

We’ll let the Gap Year Association speak for itself.


Currently Accredited Member

The accreditation process involves both the Gap Year Association staff and Board of Advisors to ensure the best in Gap Year education and the highest consistency in programming.

Accreditation by the Gap Year Association represents a commitment to the highest standards in safety, quality, and integrity. Accredited Programs have agreed to consistently abide by the Standards of the Gap Year Association, which means that a student can count on an experience with the highest caliber of field leadership, the best degree of office support, and the highest standards of safety.

Skills for Adulthood

At Winterline Global Education, we take skills seriously. We tell our students that skills are important, that they will become more capable and competent adults as they learn diverse skill sets.  We explain that they will need ever more global skills to both survive and thrive in the global workplace and global economy.  And we not only ‘tell’ them these things, we are actually engaged every day in teaching them these skills – skills to help them succeed, skills to make them better people, better communicators, and better collaborators, skills to help them become more independent, more resilient, more thoughtful, more considerate, more critically aware.

Our focus on skills is not just about teaching “job skills”, but life skills and interpersonal skills with the goal of helping young people grow into mature, responsible, and capable adults.  This is implicit in everything we do — from the partners we work with to the mentors we hire. During our nine-month global skills program this focus is about consciously supporting students’ growth into adulthood. Gap years are perfect for this, and students who elect to take a gap year are perfectly positioned to take advantage of it.  Gap year students are by definition “in between”, for that is what a ‘gap’ is – a break or span of time or distance between two separate things, two separate states of being.

“We are not an assembly line, guaranteeing newly minted adults at the end of every year.”

Anthropologists call this “in between-ness” a liminal state, where one is “betwixt and between.”  The concept of liminality comes from the Latin word limen, meaning a threshold, where one is neither inside nor outside. There is potency and potentiality during liminal periods, but also vulnerability, as with all states of transition. Symbolically, liminal periods require the loss of identity, or more accurately, the loss of one identity before taking on another one.  Liminal periods are often characterized by a journey, and invariably someone to help or facilitate the transition and to guard against danger during this vulnerable state.

The young people on their Winterline gap year are both literally and figuratively on a journey (in our case, around the world), letting go of one identity before taking on another one. Our Field Advisors or mentors, play the role of facilitators guiding them on their journey into adulthood.

Do all our students enter their Winterline year as ‘young people’ and come out the other end as ‘adults’?  Does every single student let go of one identity during their year which is then replaced by another? No, of course not. We are not an assembly line, guaranteeing newly minted adults at the end of every year. The students all struggle at some point during their year, and we struggle with them.  Some of them can’t get themselves out of bed and to a program on time when they start their year, and haven’t gotten much better by the end of the year.

“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”

But they learn other things; perhaps more important skills.  Along the way, they learn new ways to interact, to reflect, to communicate, to collaborate, to handle conflict, to speak in public, to be independent, to take and manage risks. The list goes on. They learn the skills of Non-Violent Communication and getting to the heart of conflict resolution.  They learn the skills of Restorative Justice, being present through a circle process, being accountable and how to repair harm. These are skills most adults don’t have!

At the end of the day, teaching discrete or individual skills is not our goal, for every competent, mature and responsible adult carries with them a different set of skills.  Rather than teaching young people the skills to make them adults, we teach young people how to be skilled adults. As Aristotle said, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”  This transformation from ‘learning skills’ as a young person to ‘being skilled’ as an adult takes time and energy, but is the most valuable gift we offer.

Why Malia’s Gap Year Matters

Every year, more and more young people are taking gap years. Whether it’s a new celebritythought leader, actor, activist, gap years are becoming increasingly more common as a way to broaden and diversify the learning experiences young people go through before hitting the post-college world.

With last summer’s news of Malia Obama taking a year off, gap years have seen a marked spur in interest in the States, which we’ve heard reiterated around the country as we tour with the USA Gap Year Fairs.

But why does it matter that Malia’s taking a gap year? Should we be concerned that she’s taken a year off before starting college? Are we perhaps over-concerned about the choices of the President’s daughters? Of all the education topics we could be concerned about, why take a gap year?

The truth is, the American public education system has become overly interested in test-taking and rote learning, a paradigm that has only accelerated in the last 15 years. The downside isn’t that measuring progress is a bad thing. It’s that too often, measurement is defined in very narrow terms, leading us to over-emphasize the value of math and reading skills. To be clear, these skills are very important in predicting academic success. However, their correlation to success in life in general is far less clear. Moreover, the goal of education is not mere academic success, but rather preparation for life.


Howard Gardner’s seminal work on Multiple Intelligences Theory at the Harvard Graduate School of Education makes a very strong research case for the value of not only the many ways in which we can be educated, but also successful in life. Broadening the ways we define education as well as the autonomy of students to shape and design their own education is of increasing value in a highly specialized 21st century economy.

Which brings us to Malia.

The gap year is probably the only opportunity in your education career when you can physically step out of the bounds of a classroom and design your own learning for a sustained period of time. The gap year is in many ways the most powerful way to gain real experience, learn skills, and get a tactile sense of what it means to live and work in the world. If you’re able to travel during that time, it can give you an even greater sense of how the world really works, and what it means to live in a globalized, interconnected planet and economy.

Malia’s gap year, to spend time interning at the US Embassy in Spain, probably gave her an immense variety of skills and experience to prepare her for going back to school, this time at Harvard University, (just down the street). In addition to the international experience and being able to look upon her home country from a distance, she’s likely been able to brush up on her Spanish, already apparently quite good, develop greater independence, and learn the ins and outs of what our State Department is doing abroad. There’s likely no short list to the number of skills she’s learned during that experience.

And though her gap year experience was designed to be highly specialized, that’s not essential for most gap years. For many, the gap year is an opportunity to explore new experiences. Too many students go into their junior year of college having no idea what to major in. And it’s likely not their fault!

To know when you don’t know enough is a critical life skill. However, under pressure to declare, many make decisions that they ultimately regret, or change, costing them extra time on the back end, and forcing them to spend even more time in classrooms gaining academic experience, instead of real world experience!

The gap year is your opportunity to get things out in the open sooner. To start the life germination process on a clear-eyed, good foot. To not just think about what you want to do, but gain exposure to a wider variety of life paths, and to learn what is it that you actually enjoy doing, and what challenges you.

Malia’s decision to defer admission to arguably the nation’s best university, is good news for all of us because it highlights the value of taking the time to design your own life, strike out on a new course for independence, and gain real world experience that will inevitably prove useful in your life.

Interested in joining us for a gap year?

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5 Things I Wish I Knew Before College

Most of the wisdom you’ll gain is sure to come as a result of new and exciting challenges.

Taking a gap year is easily one of the best ways to gain self-confidence and maturity before beginning a demanding four years as a student. But whatever your plans are before freshman year, here are five tips to take the edge off.

1. Master the Art of Finding Time for Yourself

Between taking classes, writing twenty page papers, participating in clubs, making new friends, and going out on weekends, it can be hard to carve out quality alone time.

Social life in college is often 24/7, starting in the morning when your roommate insists on telling you about his weekend, continuing throughout the day until the late night cramming session with your study group, and ending as you fall asleep facetiming a high school best friend.

Intentionally planning some daily isolation can do wonders for your mental clarity. Especially in the first year of school, when so much effort goes into first impressions, being alone can be relaxing and rejuvenating. When campus life gets overwhelming, one of the best things you can do is overcoming the wrath of #FOMO.

Take a run, watch a show, make some art – if even just for a few hours. Then get back out there and make the effort!


2. Don’t Make a Habit of Skipping and Being Late

This one depends a lot on the size of your school. At a huge university, your professor might not notice if you show up to class at all. At a small college, like mine, professors set clear standards for tardiness and attendance.

All it takes is a little humiliation to set a flake on the straight and narrow. I was never late to one particular class again after a very awkward situation involving me getting locked out and having to bang on the door during a professor’s passionate speech on personal accountability, before tip toeing through a maze of people in a tiny room while carrying a 50 pound chair over my head, which of course only fit in the far back corner.

If skipping and being late really are so convenient, consider the true benefits of flaking. Will you actually do the readings and take the notes outside of class? Or are are you just telling yourself you will, until the night before the final when you don’t recognize half the content on the study guide your studious friend just sent you.

Frequently skipping and being late is a bad look. If a class is too early, don’t take it. If a class is too boring, drop it. If it’s required for your major and you hate it, either reconsider your major or knuckle down and stay motivated.

But every now and then, when you’re too cold to get out of bed and the weather’s crap, feel free to turn off your seven subsequent iPhone alarms and roll right back over.


3) Don’t Try to Do It All in Four Years

College offers a lot, but too many freshmen go into their first year of school expecting the “best years of their lives”. If you frantically seek this unrealistic, glorified endgoal, you may come out four years later exhausted, disappointed, unfulfilled, and unable to shake the feeling that you missed out on something.

Meet tons of people, but don’t try to meet everyone. If you’re lucky enough to have found a supportive friend group, be able to recognize and appreciate that.

Sign up for clubs that really interest you, but don’t sign up for every club. Or do, go to the first meeting of each one, and blow off the rest. Branch out and take classes outside your major, but don’t sacrifice your mental health over a 300-level Russian literature course.

Nobody likes feeling boxed in or confined to a narrow routine with a select few things or people, and during freshman year it can be especially stressful feeling like you’ve made too many defining decisions too early.

But we also don’t often appreciate what we have while we have it. Seek this mindfulness, and reap the benefits of your current situation.

4) Get to Know Your Professors

Professors are old people in spiffy clothing who know everything. Just ask, and they can tell you about the secrets of the world, legends of the past, stories of trust and betrayal, ancient scriptures, or maybe just something pertaining to their particular area of study. You’ll never know if you don’t ask!

Building relationships with professors is invaluable. Not only are they well paid and (hopefully) nice people who are often very receptive to interested students, they are also an incredible resource.

Your professors can help you thrive academically by telling you exactly where you need to improve and giving out personalized advice. If you bring them a draft of a paper during office hours, then they’ll make edits to the paper that they’re themselves going to be grading later! It’s so convenient it almost seems corrupt. It’s not though – because in a good college your professors care about you and what you’re learning far more than they care about the grade.

That’s not to say you can expect to spend the whole semester skipping class, only to cruise into the professor’s office the day before the final paper is due, throw a draft on the desk and receive some magical annotations for an A. The benefits you get from the relationship are tied directly to the effort you put into it.

Most professors are published at some level, and are part of a network of professionals in their particular field. Ideally, at the end of four years you’ll be able to reach out to a professor and take advantage of their references and professional connections.

Fishing in Wyoming NOLS

5) Learn How to be Smart with your Money

As a college student, you’ll be broke most of the time.

But the type of school you go to and how the students spend their free time can have a big impact on exactly how broke.

If your campus is in a big city, prepare for the pressures of nightlife, expensive food, and constant event admission fees. The extra expenses may be worth it if you crave access to an exciting metropolitan lifestyle. Balance out the costs by mastering public transportation, walking, cooking for yourself, or supplementing your diet with dollar pizza.

If your campus is in the middle of the woods or in a small college town, you’ll still find ways to go broke. Most of your money will probably go towards food, gas (if you have a car), textbooks, and weekend debauchery.

Trim the fat by taking the campus shuttle or carpooling when possible, gently mooching off of people, and buying used books online. Get a job as soon as quickly as possible, and figure out whether or not jobs in town pay more than those off campus.

Go to parties, don’t host them; and if Greek life is your thing, reap the benefits of free refreshments. Optimize your school breaks by figuring out who lives in your area and who has the best summer houses.

If you’re interested in going abroad, find out the cost of the abroad programs your school offers and the foreign universities they partner with compared to a regular semester’s tuition.

Overall, the best advice is to simply get comfortable being broke. And remember, some of the most successful businesses began in college dorms. So get busy!

Want to learn more about our study abroad and gap year programs?

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Don’t Send Your Kids Off To College. At Least Not Yet.

In this article posted by Nicholas Kristof to his New York Times blog, On The Ground, Abigail Falk looks at the statistics and trends on the pros and cons of the gap year.

Is the education system failing our students? Is the conveyor belt to college even worth it? Are there solutions?

Falk examines the missed opportunity of branding the ‘gap year’ as a ‘gap’. We need to “rebrand the “gap year” as anything but a “gap.”’


“When used intentionally, the year before college can be a bridge, a launch pad and a new rite of passage. It’s the students who find the courage to step off the treadmill – replacing textbooks with experience and achievement with exploration – who are best prepared for life after high school. And a growing number of colleges are taking notice.”

The truth is, the value of a gap year is becoming ever increasingly prominent in American life. Global perspective, a sense of one’s own strengths and weakness, the ability to lead, persuade, and listen deeply to peers. These are all skills that sit on the sidelines of traditional education, but can be taken up as a focal point during one’s gap year. Indeed, it may be the best opportunity to learn them.

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Best-selling Author, Michael Thompson, PhD Believes in a Gap Year

Of course, taking a gap year helps teens better prepare for college both personally and academically in more ways than one—Michael Thompson, PhD strongly agrees.

As a well-known clinical psychologist, New York Times Best-selling Author, and International speaker, you could say that he’s an expert on all subjects pertaining to children, schools, and parenting. He has written nine books, including Homesick and Happy: How Time Away from Parents Can Help a Child Grow, which discusses how spending time away from parents is extremely beneficial. Matter of fact, Thompson has written extensively about the benefits of high school students taking a gap year before starting college on his own website.

I recently had the opportunity to interview Thompson, who champions taking a gap year before college and here’s what he had to say:

Q:  What is the main reason that you advocate teens taking a gap year between high school and college?

A:  Students, especially high-achieving ones, have been on a 13-year school treadmill and many are burnt out. Taking a gap year can be refreshing and help students return to school better focused. A gap year gives teens a chance to grow up and mature. It’s as simple as that.

Q:  Do you think classroom learning is sometimes overrated?

A: Yes! Somehow we got the idea that school is the best place to learn and that all of the important learning takes place in a school setting. But that has not been my life experience. Much of the important learning in my life has taken place outside of the classroom. There is this assumption that everyone has to go to college immediately after high school, but it is not necessarily the best thing to do.

Years ago, I met this very interesting father of a high school senior that had already been accepted to a very prestigious college. Other parents would not have questioned whether their teen should go straight to college, but he did. He explained to me, “Ages 18 to 25 are your highest energy years—the best years to test your entrepreneurial skills.” It turned out that at 18, this man had traveled abroad and then started his own business, which had become a very successful company. He didn’t want his son to miss out on life experiences by attending college, before he had seen the world. And that’s just one stand-out example.

Q:  You talk about “concerted cultivation”. What do you mean by that and how does a gap year address this?

A:  A gap year gives teens a chance to be independent from their parents. Time away from parents helps a child grow, especially in this day and age of “concerted cultivation” where parents are doing more for their children than ever before. Many parents are doing too much for their teens—in some cases almost everything—right down to arranging internships for them. It’s no surprise that teens learn self-sufficiency if they get a job on their own. I had a private school education and when I look back on my life, the biggest growth experience I had was working the night shift at Coney Island.

Away from their parents, young adults learn how to take care of themselves, how to live without certain comforts, such as cable television, and how to navigate situations on their own. On a gap year, teens face different daily challenges that they have to handle independently and personally. They have to make their own choices.

Q:  How can a gap year re-ignite a teen’s perspective on life and passion for learning?

A:  A gap year provides students with the chance to take a break from the daily grind of academics. Plus, they can see how the concepts they’ve learned in school translate into a real world environment. Most teens return from a gap year with better focus and a better sense of what they want to study and do in life. For example, studying a foreign language in school is great, but think about how much more fluent a student can become if they spend all day conversing and living amongst native speakers of that language.

For example, I know a young woman who was admitted to Harvard in January, so she chose to take a gap half-year. She decided to go to Paris for a change of pace and to practice her French. She sublet an apartment and earned money tutoring American high school students living in France, helping them prepare for the SAT’s. When she got to Harvard in late January, she told me that she felt much older than her classmates who simply had a jump-start on school. In France, she had lived independently from her family (even though they helped her with her airfare and some of her expenses) and admittedly had struggled to become fluent in a second language. She also had to deal with loneliness and all of the challenges of foreign culture. But she did it. She got a job and earned some money, traveled a bit, and experienced life in another country. Essentially, on her own. Again, mastering those challenges and learning some valuable life skills helped her flourish quicker than just more classroom work.

Q:  Some parents are concerned that if their teen takes a gap year, they might never go to college. Should they be worried?

A:  That is rarely an issue with motivated students. Furthermore, I would argue that it is risky to send unmotivated or immature students to college—especially boys who are more likely to flunk out of their freshman year. It’s a fact that college students in the United States are surrounded by the heaviest drinking segment of the American population. If a young man is not psychologically motivated for college, he can become depressed, go socially wild, or simply be an indifferent student. By seeing more of the world, students return to school more grown up. They think about their actions and approaches. And are definitely more prepared for college.

Dr. Thompson travels about eighty days a year making keynote presentations, running workshops for teachers, and consulting schools and parent groups. He has visited more than five hundred schools in the U.S., Europe, Central and South America, and Asia. He is certainly a knowledgeable resource and advocate of traveling abroad, especially for taking a gap year.


Randi Mazzella is a mother of three children and freelance writer.  Her work has appeared in many online and in print publications including Teen Life, Your Teen, Raising Teens, NJ Family and Knowmoretv.com.

7 Quotes from College Administrators on the Benefits of a Gap Year

We’ve highlighted the steps students need to take a college deferment. More publications are picking up the story on the value of a gap year, from the New York Times, to the Boston Globe, and the benefits of a gap year are many. But what do colleges think about gap years?

Interested in taking your own gap year?


Here’s what college deans and administrators are saying about taking a gap year:

Florida State Gap YearFlorida State

Joe O’Shea as director of Florida State University’s Office of Undergraduate Research, head of the AGA board, and author of the Gap Year: How Delaying College Changes People in the Ways the World Needs has cited in gap year articles and in his book.

1. “One telling observation is that many students who take gap years end up changing their intended major after returning. During college, their gap year experiences enrich their courses, strengthen co-curricular endeavors, and animate undergraduate research and creative projects.”

2. “Going overseas helps to cultivate a type of independence and self-confidence that staying close to home in a familiar environment probably does not. Furthermore, taking the traditional kind of gap year after high school helps students to take full advantage of their time in college.

Middlebury College Gap YearMiddlebury College

Bob Clagett served as Dean of Admissions at Middlebury College. He also served as Director of College Counseling at St. Stephen’s Episcopal School in Austin, TX, and as the Senior Admissions Officer at Harvard University for 21 years.

3. “Stepping off the educational treadmill for six months or a year between high school and college can be an important way to remind themselves of what their education should really be about. It can also lead to a much more productive experience once they are enrolled in college, since those students will frequently be more mature, more focused, and more aware of what they want to do with their college education.”

4. “The prevailing wisdom is that kids are going to lose their hard-earned study skills if they take a gap year. The opposite is true.”

Princeton Gap YearPrinceton

A poignant quote from Fred A. Hargadon, then Dean of Admissions at Princeton University.

5. “I am convinced that one’s college education is greatly enhanced by the maturity, experience, and perspective a student can bring post gap year.” Princeton’s Bridge Year is a tuition-free program that allows a select number of incoming freshmen to begin their Princeton experience by engaging in nine months of University-sponsored service at one of five international locations. In addition to supporting community-based initiatives at each program site, Bridge Year aims to provide participants with greater international perspective and intercultural skills, an opportunity for personal growth and reflection, and a deeper appreciation of service in both a local and international context.

Harvard Gap YearHarvard

William Fitzsimmons, dean of admissions and financial aid at Harvard University promotes gap years to his Ivy League students.

6. “The feedback from students almost all the time has been that this experience was transformative. The more life experience you bring, the better off you are in school.”

“Occasionally students are admitted to Harvard or other colleges in part because they accomplished something unusual during a year off. While no one should take a year off simply to gain admission to a particular college, time away almost never makes one a less desirable candidate or less well prepared for college.”

Connecticut College Gap YearConnecticut College

Martha Merrill, as dean of admission and financial aid at Connecticut College, encourages students to study abroad and take a gap year.

7. “It’s reached the point where a lot of us in admissions are talking about ways to get students to just kind of relax [between high school and college].

A detailed list of colleges in support of gap years and deferment:

Here’s a comprehensive list of colleges that are fully in support of taking a gap year you can view on the Gap Year Association’s (GYA) website.

There are so many reasons to pick the perfect program and embark on the journey of a lifetime before heading right to campus.

Sources: Gap Year Association, prestigious college websites, various blogs and articles about exploring the idea of a gap year.

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