Gap Year Programs

A gap year is an interim year taken as a break between high school and college. During a gap year, participants undertake experiential and educational opportunities in the U.S. or abroad. You might choose to immerse yourself in another culture, volunteer in a service organization, take on an internship or even participate in an academic program abroad.

Check out the following articles to see if a gap year is right for you:

The programs listed below are not affiliated with Shady Side Academy and being listed does not constitute an endorsement by SSA. We encourage families to do their own careful research before committing to a program.

Cultural/Language Immersion

African Leadership Academy
Live and interact on a daily basis with Africa’s most outstanding young leaders.

Art History Abroad
This is a voyage of discovery - six weeks that will last you all your life.

Council on International Exchange
This is a year in which you’ll have the chance to step out into the world, gain valuable life experience and skills, and begin the transition into independence.

LeapNow - LeapYear
A full academic year of experience, adventure and reflection to cultivate the whole person.

Map The Gap International
MTGI can help you explore the world, discover your passions and return energized, ready to make the transition to college with greater focus and purpose.

Rotary International Youth Exchange
Youth Exchange is a study-abroad opportunity for young people who spend anywhere from a few weeks to a full year as an international student hosted by local Rotary clubs. This is a low-cost program.

More than just a gap year. All their programs include a mix of different projects in a mix of locations.With that much variety built in, there's simply no chance you'll get bored

A gap experience without the GAP!

Where There Be Dragons
Each course features nine program components, such as homestays, language study, service learning and independent study, that make for a holistic cultural experience in each destination.

Service Learning

Americorps, AmeriCorps NCCC, AmeriCorps VISTA
Through community service, learn valuable work skills, earn money for education and develop an appreciation for citizenship.

City Year
Help bridge the education gap for students in high-poverty communities.

Global Citizen Year
GCY is building the next generation of American leaders through a bridge year in the developing world.

Global Routes
Create meaningful cross-cultural relationships through immersion in small, rural communities abroad.

Global Gap - Projects Abroad
A unique gap year that spans three continents, five countries and 12 different service opportunities.

Volunteer for Peace
Offers placement in more than 1,800 short-term international voluntary service programs in 70 countries.


National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS)
NOLS takes students of all ages on remote wilderness expeditions and teaches them technical outdoor skills, leadership and environmental ethics.

Outward Bound - Costa Rica
See how much you can learn about yourself and the world around you with the tropical rainforests, rivers and reefs as your classroom.

The broad exposure of SAS provides a comparative global education experience. Get a taste of the entire world as you travel the waterways by ship.


Earthwatch Institute
Engaging people worldwide in scientific field research and education to promote the understanding and action necessary for a sustainable environment.

School for Field Studies
Programs are designed to teach students about critical local environmental problems and train them to do field research that will help address these problems.

Student Conservation Association
SCA's mission is to build the next generation of conservation leaders and inspire lifelong stewardship of the environment.

The Farm at VYCC Venture Gap
It's a growing experience.

Woolman Semester
This is a progressive, academic semester school for students who want to make a difference in the world while studying peace, social justice and sustainability in the Sierra Nevada foothills of California.