What to Expect from the Winterline Admissions Process

So you’ve decided to make the leap and take a gap year, you’ve researched some programs, stalked some Instagrams, and now it’s time to apply! The Winterline application process is very straightforward and you can complete it quickly if you set your mind to it. It’s less complicated and less competitive than applying for college, so don’t stress too much. If you’ve been going through that process, the Winterline application may be a welcome break, and will, of course, give you an amazing adventure to look forward to. winterline, gap year, admissions

Step 1

Your first step is to complete the online program application. This is just 4 short steps:

  1. Contact Info. Show us you’re interested, help us stay in touch throughout this process!
  2. A Short Essay Question: “What do you think might be the most difficult aspects of this program for you?” If you haven’t already, use this as an opportunity to reflect on the program you’re applying for! Read about it on our website. What stands out to you as particularly exciting? What stands out to you as an aspect of the program that will challenge you? Tell us about it!
  3. Guardian Info. It’s important that your support system is on board with your gap year. We want to get in touch with them to introduce ourselves and answer their questions about safety and what exactly you’ll learn on your Winterline program. 
  4. Personal Info and References. Just a little more information we’re looking for to round out your application, including your nationality, high school graduation year, and any additional info you’d like to share with us.Winterline Global Entrepreneurship and Business Programs

The application shouldn’t take you more than an hour or so to complete. The part that will take the most time is the short essay question. It’s smooth sailing from there! At the end of the application, please submit your $50 application fee. This will allow us to process your application and ultimately send out your acceptance decision. 

Step 2

If you’re applying for a summer program, you’re done! The Admissions Committee will review your application to make an acceptance decision. 

If you’re applying to a semester program or our signature 9-month Global Skills Program, next up for you is an interview with a member of our Admissions Team. Keep an eye on your email inbox after you submit your online program application; we’ll email you with instructions to get the interview scheduled. Interviews last about an hour and are a chance for us to get to know you better. Typically, interviews are conducted using a video calling program called Zoom, but if you live close to one of our interviewers, we can set up something in person!winterline, gap year, admissions

Don’t stress about your interview; it’s relatively informal. You’ll chat with your interviewer about why you’re interested in Winterline, what you hope to get out of the program, and how you’ll face some of the challenges the program presents. Our interviewers hold a wide variety of roles in Winterline. Whether you chat with our Director of Outreach, our Director of Student Services, our Director of Programs, or another staff member, your interviewer will have a unique perspective about all that Winterline has to offer. Many of our interviewers are even former Field Advisors! This is a great opportunity to ask any lingering questions you have about the program. 

Step 3 (optional)

If you’d like to apply for financial aid or scholarships, now is the time to do so. We recommend getting these submitted within a day or two of your interview. The Scholarship Committee meets regularly to review aid applications, so getting those submitted will ensure that your aid offer is included in your acceptance materials. You are welcome to apply for both our financial aid and our work-study scholarships. winterline, gap year, admissions

Work-study scholarships are photography, videography, journalism, photojournalism, and social media scholarships that give students the opportunity to work with a staff mentor to develop those skills while helping to contribute to our blog and social media, all in exchange for a program discount. If you indicate in your initial program application that you are concerned about the cost of the program, the aid applications will be emailed to you upon submission.

Step 4

We have rolling admissions for both our program and aid applications. Once you have completed the steps above, the Admissions Committee will review your materials to make an admissions decision. Decisions are typically sent out within a week of your interview. Be sure to communicate with us during this time! Do you have questions about your aid package? Payment plan? How to pay using your 529 funds? Lingering questions about the program itself? Just ask! Now is the time to get answers, and we want to do everything we can to help you feel confident in your decision to travel with us. When you reach that decision, send in your $5,000 deposit to reserve your spot in the program, send in your signed enrollment contract, and keep an eye on your email for an introduction to our Director of Student Services, who will guide you through the onboarding process. The adventure begins! 

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New Student Spotlight: Max Johnson

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

Thinking about taking a gap year too?



Tacoma, Washington


My parents had introduced the idea to me when my sister was headed off to college and I was a sophomore in high school. My sister had not taken a gap year but parents have highly recommended it.


I have a general idea as to what I want for a career path. I’ve been really interested in going into engineering, but I’ve seen so many different possibilities that I haven’t gotten the chance to look at. The extra year will be great for such!


While we won’t be doing it for too long, it probably has to be the advanced technical/safe driving which will be taking place at BMW’s performance school. While I don’t fully know how I feel about engineering, I definitely know how much I love to drive!


Not really. I do have plans for after high school and all the way up to college, but it just kind of drops off at that point. I really value the idea of having a job that I love going to every day, even if the paycheck isn’t the best.


I have! I’ve been out of the country several times, but my favorites have always been the ones where I get to settle down and know the place I am visiting. During my Sophomore year, I took a trip to Scotland for 2 weeks, and it was sublime! It lacked the color of a lot of the color that other places have, but it made the hidden gems in Scotland all the more interesting!


I hope to gain a lot of additional knowledge on the possible career paths I could go down. There may be an opportunity waiting for me that I’ll love once I learn about it on the trip!


I’m a little shy while I’m getting to know everyone, but once I do, I’m very adventurous and an awesome travel buddy.


I can’t put it into words. I’m a firm believer in matching wavelengths, and Winterline just seems to match mine!


I have been building a kit airplane with other high-schoolers for the past year and a half! Also, I have taken more goofy photos of myself than legitimately serious ones. Ever.


The Monteverde ISP Experience

Each student in Winterline completes two ISPs, also known as an Independent Study Projects, during their gap year. These are apprenticeships in which the participant learns a variety of skills, doing things like coffee farming to shadowing a local government. Our first trimester offered ISPs in the beautiful little tourist town of Monteverde located in the Puntarenas Province of Costa Rica. Definitely a highlight of the first trimester, myself and the other students of Squad 1 all loved our ISPs. Here are a few of the things we learned throughout our time spent in the Monteverde cloud forest.

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Monteverde Cloud Forest | Photo By: Whitfield Smith

My personal ISP was titled “Cooking Costa Rican Food”. Initially, I wasn’t sure what to expect as this had not been my first choice for ISP, but due to overlapping desires in the squad, this was the one I was given. And I can safely say I absolutely loved every second of it. Every morning for a week, I woke up and visited my teacher Karen’s house, where she taught me the recipes of local Costa Rican cuisine. Karen was a regular member of the local community, not some intimidating 5 star chef. I have never cooked anything before in my life, but Karen was such a wonderful teacher that every meal came out more delicious than I ever could have expected. And luckily so, because unlike the other students doing their ISP, I was cooking my own lunch rather than bringing one each day. Whether it was ceviche (raw fish cured in citrus juices), picadillo with tortillas (ground beef served similarly to a taco), or rice pudding for dessert, I enjoyed every meal and came away feeling more proud of myself and satisfied with the dish than I ever thought possible.

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Josh’s ceviche!
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Josh cooking picadillo

The real kicker? Karen couldn’t speak a word of English. I learned everything by watching and inferring certain things based on the way she gestured. I certainly picked up a bit of Spanish after this ISP, though only words that can apply in the kitchen. At least now I can read Spanish menus in restaurants a bit better. This ISP taught me so much about traditional dishes of Costa Rica, of cooking in general, some Spanish, and how to interact with a language barrier. I would absolutely recommend it to anyone, especially since as I said earlier, it wasn’t even my first choice and I couldn’t have had a better time with it.

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Josh and his teacher Karen

My squadmate, Jacob Rona, did the ISP known as “Reusing and Recycling Materials”. This title, while a bit unclear on what the ISP will actually consist of, certainly sounded interesting on paper, as we have been learning all about sustainability throughout trimester 1, and recycling is a huge part of sustainable living. This apprenticeship turned out to be one of my personal favorites as I would visit Jacob after cooking my lunch and I got to see him in action. It may have been the happiest I have seen him on this trip, and he’s the type of guy who is always smiling. During his ISP, he welded scrap metals and other materials together to create useable appliances such as candle and wine holders or small “toy” cars. His mentor, Memo, also spoke no English, but was a very energetic guy and had a certain love for the western genre, so everything they made together was cowboy themed. It looked like a lot of fun and I was very impressed with all the pieces he and Jacob made together and how practical everything they made was. I know that Jacob would recommend this one as well, he loved it so much that he had his pieces shipped home separately from him to gift to his family.

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Jacob showing off his welding tools
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Jacob’s wine bottle holder

Other Squad 1 ISPs included: coffee farming, bird art installations, photography, identifying edible plants, painting, mindfulness, intensive Spanish, baking, and sustainable farming. I never heard a single complaint about any of these apprenticeships, and I can easily say that overall, Monteverde was absolutely a highlight for Squad 1’s first trimester.

Why to Choose a Semester in Latin America

Not everyone has 9 months to dedicate to a gap year, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be able to have an hands-on education and travel experience. That’s why we created a semester full of skills and and cultural exploration in Latin America! This program kicks off in September 2020, but it’s never too soon to start thinking about the future. Here are 10 reasons you should consider applying for to join us.

  1. Visit not one, not two, but three different countries! Many study abroad trips only offer you the experience to live and learn in one country. Maybe you can fit in visits to other countries along the way, but they’ll likely be shorter trips that you have to plan yourself. On Winterline’s Latin America semester program, your whole group will spend time in Panama, Costa Rica, and Peru. No need to choose just one!

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    Photo By: Whitfield Smith
  2. Spend minimal time in the classroom. While some of your skills require a classroom day or two, the majority of your time will be spent in the field, learning by doing. Practice Spanish by conversing with native speakers, learn about sustainability by building and farming on a rainforest ranch, hone your business skills alongside local entrepreneurs, and so much more.
  3. Immerse yourself in each community. Yes, you’ll be living and learning in a group, but you’ll be doing so alongside locals. Some programs house you in a dorm, where you live together and learn from instructors they’ve hired. We know that, in order for you to learn cross-cultural communication and actually experience each country, you need to be spending time with and learning from the people who actually live there.

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    Photo By: Veronica Allmon
  4. Head home with 3 certifications under your belt. That’s right, you’ll have plenty to add to your resume, including certifications in CPR, Wilderness First Aid, and scuba diving! If you’re interested in a career in outdoor education, this is a great head start. If not, this will be a fun and out-of-the-box dose of real world skill-building.

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    Certification cards (Credit: Sherly Budiman)
  5. Get a taste for rural and urban life. Embrace the outdoors through scuba diving, artisanal fishing, surfing, beach lifesaving, technical tree climbing, natural building, hiking…the list goes on! It’s time to make yourself comfortable in nature, and all of these skills will help you do so. But you’ll also spend time in the city working on leadership, presentations, designing for urban resilience, prototyping, project planning, and more.
  6. Learn from the experts. The people who teach you these skills know what they’re talking about. We partner with a variety of organizations to ensure that you’re learning from qualified individuals or groups in each field.winterline, gap year, latin america
  7. Find your path and your purpose. Not sure what you want to study in college or pursue as a career? Getting a taste of so many different skills will expose you to ideas you’ve never heard of or considered. You’ll learn what you like, what you’re good at, and what you’re passionate about.
  8. Balance between guidance and independence. Your Winterline semester will be led by Field Advisors who live and travel with you, ensuring you stay safe and on track. They’re there to help when you need it, but they won’t hold your hands the whole way like a parent! You’re responsible for aspects such as your budget, showing up on time to skills, and planning your own activities on free days.  winterline, gap year, latin america
  9. Save on tuition with a scholarshipIf you’re interested in traveling with a friend, you can save $500 each by enrolling together. Looking to build a portfolio for journalism, photography, videography, or social media? Save $500 with work-study scholarship!
  10. Make memories to last a lifetime. One semester is plenty of time to change your life. These new skills, countries, and friends will leave you with stories, photos, and learnings to bring with you wherever the future takes you.winterline, gap year, latin america

If you’re interested in joining our 2020 semester program to Latin America, complete your application today to secure your spot!

Photos of the Week: Trimester 1 Recap

The last few months were pretty busy for our students! Now they’re home for a few weeks to rest and recover before jetting off to Southeast Asia in January. With so many skills and adventures, you might have already forgotten what they accomplished during their fir. While you can always look back at our past Photos of the Week to remind yourself, we also have some pictures that were previously unpublished to share. Take a look to see the beach adventures, the tree climbing, the rainforest explorations, the scuba diving, the business building, the urban innovation, the homestays, and more.

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Ashley basking in the sunlight
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Crawly critters | Photo By: Ashley Zhao
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You’re never too old to play in the sand
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Costa Rican sunsets never get old | Photo By: Hannah Wareham
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Scuba selfies!
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Getting serious at business bootcamp | Photo By: Liam McIlwain
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Revamping a Panamanian community | Photo By: Whitfield Smith
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Time to climb | Photo By: Aimee Diederich
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Eli practicing scuba skills | Photo By: Micah Zimmerman
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The skies are pretty at all times of day | Photo By: Hannah Wareham
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Jack on the open seas
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Everything’s better out on the ocean
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Lauren and Emmie hanging out at Rancho Mastatal | Photo By: Whitfield Smith
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Leon, Pablo, Eli, and James at Rancho Mastatal | Photo By: Whitfield Smith
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Upcycling for Monteverde ISP | Photo By: Lauren Allen
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So many fabric choices for upcycling! | Photo By: Lauren Allen
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Learning to use a sewing machine | Photo By: Lauren Allen
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Lauren with her host family
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Reach for the sky | Photo By: Whitfield Smith
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The rainforest is beyond beautiful | Photo By: Emma Macfayden
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Dogs make the best adventure buddies | Photo By: Emma Macfayden
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In the rainforest, you see such unique species | Photo By: Emma Macfayden
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Taking in the view with a friend | Photo By: Emma Macfayden
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Sunset strikes again | Photo By: Sherly Budiman
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Learning about sustainability at Rancho Mastatal | Photo By: Whitfield Smith
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Squad 3 exploring the rainforest | Photo By: Whitfield Smith
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Getting dirty | Photo By: Whitfield Smith
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Josh and his field advisors, Jamie and Felipe
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Squad 1 in Costa Rica

If you’re interested in living this journey for yourself, apply now for our 2020-2021 gap year. Want the experience, but unable to dedicate a whole year for travel? Then join our Latin America semester this fall! It’s never too early to start thinking about your future.

An Interview at Rancho Mastatal

While he and his squad were learning about sustainability at Rancho Mastatal, our student Liam took some time to interview staff member Ryan Roberts. Liam learned all about Ryan: what brought him to Rancho Mastatal, what it’s like to live on the ranch, and how he intends to use what he’s learned in the future when he eventually leaves the ranch.

Watch the interview to find out what life is like in rural Costa Rica, and if you’re interested in visiting for yourself, you’re in luck – in 2020, students on both of our gap year itineraries and our Latin America semester program will be spending time at Rancho Mastatal. Apply today to be one of these students!

Travel for Less on Cyber Monday

Now that the Thanksgiving long weekend is over and you’re back to class or work, it may feel like nothing exciting is happening anymore. But that’s not true: there are still sales to shop tonight, and even for the next few days on some sites! This Cyber Monday, dig into your travel fund for a discounted ticket to your dream destination.

Flight Deals

  • Aer Lingus: Today and tomorrow, fly to Europe for less! You can save $100 on economy seats or $200 on business class seats from U.S. cities including Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Seattle, and more. Land in a European city of your choice!
  • Alaskan Airlines: You still have 2 days left to take advantage of Alaskan Airlines’ flight deals. These flights start from just $29, max out around $200, and take you to and from almost any U.S. city and to select international destinations! 
  • Delta: Until December 4th, you can take advantage of Delta’s domestic and international flight deals. Round trip flights start at just $97!
  • Frontier Airlines: You can save 99% on your flight before taxes and fees. Yes, you read that right: 99% off! You still have to pay for luggage and other fees, but the end result is still a really cheap flight. Use the code “CYBER” to save on select fares until midnight!
  • JetBlue: Book before midnight tomorrow to get discounted flights from almost any city on JetBlue.
  • Norwegian Air: Norwegian Air is offering 15% off select nonstop flights until midnight tonight! You can get from San Francisco to Paris or New York to Amsterdam for under $150, and more.winterline_airplane_budget
  • Qatar Airways: Today only, get flights starting at $545 to destinations in Southeast Asia and Africa! This may still sound expensive, but compared to the usual cost to fly to Thailand or Kenya, this is a great deal. You can even save on a flight to South Africa for our summer program! 
  • Scandinavian Airlines: Looking to get to Denmark, Norway, Sweden, or somewhere else in Europe? Get flights starting at $349 when you book before midnight tomorrow!
  • Southwest: Deals for Southwest start at just $39 dollars and are available until December 5th. 
  • Spirit Airlines: Spirit is already known for their low-cost flights, but you can save even more until midnight! These flights start at just $23.30 one way.
  • Student Universe: You can save up to $200 on flights when you book through Student Universe to fly anywhere around the world.
  • United Airlines: Use the code CYBER25 until midnight tomorrow to upgrade your seat to Economy Plus for extra legroom! You can also browse discounted flights starting at $97.

Of course, you’re going to need luggage for these trips. Might as well take advantage of these sales as well and treat yourself to a new suitcase!

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Photo by Daria Shevtsova from Pexels
  • eBags: Not sure which brand you want? Retailer eBags has them all in one place to scroll through, and until midnight, you can get your picks for up to 50% off with the code CYBER.
  • Monos: Use the code CYBERMONDAY to save up to 25% on these premium suitcases.
  • MVST Select: Until December 4th, you can save 35% on your purchase with the code BF35. This is their largest discount of the year, so don’t miss out!
  • Roam Luggage: Buy more, save more. With this sale, you’ll save $50 when you buy one suitcase, $125 when you buy two, and $250 when you buy three!
  • Zappos: Like eBags, this retailer has multiple brands in one place for you to compare – and they’re on sale! Scroll through to see what deals are available.