Gap Year(s)


Some high school graduates are just not ready for college, for whatever reason, and would benefit from a Gap Year (or two), or at least some time spent in another country. If a young person is feeling culturally pressured into college (“everyone is going”), taking some time away from home to live in a foreign country would bring new life-changing experiences.

Regrets of An Accomplished Child

A NYTimes article about a young women who spent maybe $200,000 graduating from a top US university, and then took off to a foreign country. The last sentences: “Within a week, I’d bought a one-way ticket to a small city in northern Thailand. And only then did I finally learn something.”

“Gap Year – The Growing Appeal of Not Going Right To College”

About 1.2% of first-time college freshmen choose to defer enrollment for a year, according to the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA. What these students choose to do with their time varies widely, from expensive study abroad programs, to volunteer programs like City Year, to staying at home and saving up for college………

Read more:

Let’s Get Global –    Let’s Get Global was founded by Rita Goldman Gelman, author of “Tales of a Female Nomad“. The “Let’s Get Global” site is a comprehensive and informative. ( Note the “Parents” tab – you can click there to read letters from parents about their young adults’ experiences taking a gap year.)

UnCollege Gap year program

InterExchange –

Awesome Opportunities for Social Change Types

This is a Facebook group which features posts from members about worldwide service opportunities for young people in high school age or with college-experience or college degrees.

From their site: “This is a place to share any awesome training, fellowship, scholarship, conference and other opportunities for social change type people around the world. If you come across an opportunity list it here. Feel free to invite other social change types to join. Please post along with a link: a short summary of the opportunity, any age and country/nationality restrictions and closing dates. When joining it would be great if you could think of the best five opportunities you know and post them (even if they are not currently open).”

Contact them on Facebook or at

The Art of Non-Conformity:×5/ 

Chris blogs about about international travel, travel hacking in general, and his journeys to more than 25 countries every year, among other things.

Travel Hacking Cartel: – tells you exactly what you need to do to accumulate Frequent Flyer Miles, and what you need to do to redeem them for fantastic trips.

European Travel: Visa Requirements for Backpacking Europe

“…If you are an American citizen traveling for pleasure within Europe, and staying no longer than 90 days in most countries, you most likely don’t need a visa of any sort- just a passport, valid for at least 6 months after you plan to return home.

If you are a citizen of USA, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, or Japan, you most likely do not need a visa for the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovia, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.”

“3 Reasons to Travel While You’re Young” by Jeff Goins



My Gap Year Experience in Panama

by Dante Searcy, USA

During my Senior Year of high school, to say I was disillusioned with school would be the grossest understatement. I knew school was a waste of time, and it was also starting to get expensive. I got a part time job because my parents couldn’t afford tuxedo rentals for prom or money for football games every week. In addition to this, I had failed the first half of my Intermediate Algebra course … more

Bellavie Documentary Project

by Isabelle Rizo, USA, October 2012

Here’s an amazing documentary from Isabelle Rizo, age 20, who has spent some time in college. She left Chicago, Illinois, USA and spent part of the summer of 2012 teaching English in a remote village in China.

The Bellavie Project Documentary :

The Importance of Travel for Personal Development

by David Mansaray, United Kingdom

As often as possible, I try to get away because I know travel can be a powerful tool for personal development.  I recently went for a short break in Italy and ever since I got back I’ve been thinking about how exactly travel benefits me.  Here are some of my thoughts:


If you’ve not been fortunate to travel, this may sound a little strange. How can travel help me know the place I’m from? That’s the question I asked a few years ago when I was told this would be the case. The reply I got was: ‘you’ll see’.  Well, now I see.

I’ve realised that we all  – to a certain degree –  take things for granted. Some of the things  include food, electricity, transport, heating and safety.  Going to a country where………. .….read more on David’s blog at

Reinvention – A Gap Year Story

by Alex McNeil, USA

Decked out in robes and hats, my 200-something graduating classmates were arranged in rows on the lawn below the stage. Beyond them their family and friends sat waiting for the joint speech that was to be delivered by the salutatorian and me.It was not to be delivered by the salutatorian and me because I was the valedictorian. I was not. My GPA put me soundly in the lower-most quartile of my graduating class, and it was only a coincidence that my best friend—Andrew—was the salutatorian. We were speaking together because we wanted to and because my school didn’t care about grades when it came to graduation speeches……….read moreAlex McNeil is an intern for Challenge and wrote this post for their site on Wednesday, October 31,2012


Discovering Alternative Education
by Isabelle Rizo
After discovering the world of students loans, and all the debt I would accumulate by going to school, I decided to look into alternatives.Throughout the summer before going to college I began reading books on various college subjects; from how to find the right major to surviving your roommate. I then stumbled across a book called The UnCollege Alternative by Danielle Wood. At this time I was really into social media and I began blogging about my books and things I found interesting in alternative education.Now, I was seriously considering not attending Roosevelt University. But it was my dream since sophomore year to double major in social justice and international studies. I wanted to live in the liveliness of Chicago with all the cultural events and by the Harold Washington Library… but despite my academic scholarship of $26,000 from the school… I still needed to take out $16,000 in student loans. Something I did not feel I was prepared to do. Also the fact that a 9% interest rate and no chance for bankruptcy was kind of scary.I tweeted about reading the UnCollege Alternative, when Dale Stephens wrote back asking if I have heard of The UnCollege Movement. I dived into UnCollege and the rest is history.I discovered TESOL certification getting certified to teach English as a Second Language. I always wanted to travel and help others so this sounded like the perfect opportunity. I had a friend in China that I collaborated with, along with a friend from the States on the Global Education Partnership. We wanted to partner up with different educational institutions and people to help underprivileged areas have access to educational materials and have intercultural exchanges.By this time I began interviewing higher education innovators and really dived into alternative education by volunteering with The Alternative Education Resource Organization, UnCollege, and other things.I decided to take some classes at the local community college where all of my scholarships transferred (luckily) and I took an intro to film class. My professor was wonderful and gave me many resources. After telling him about my plans in China he said, “You’ve got to make a movie about it!”So voila, The BellaVie Project Documentary was born. Comprised of resources, interviews on advice for high schoolers, and my alternative travel education in China.Hope it gets you thinking about your own education, and if you ever need to chat or connect about some resources feel free to e-mail me at

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