Gap Year Fair details post-high school opportunities


Jillian Goldstein / Sagamore staff

At the Gap Year Fair on Jan. 16 in the MLK room, Jason Sarouhan, Vice President of Interim Programs, gave a presentation on how a student should choose the right gap year. Sarouhan said that gap year programs allow students to broaden their scope, which, in turn, helps them with other life skills.

Jillian Goldstein and Izzy Gonzalez

The concept of graduating from high school can be daunting, especially when you’re unsure of what lies ahead of you. However, many people believe that taking a gap year is the perfect way to focus on what is really important to you, and to discover which of the many work fields you want to pursue in college and beyond.

The Gap Year Fair, open to students and parents, was held on Saturday, Jan. 16 from 1-2 p.m. in the MLK room. Jason Sarouhan, Vice President of Interim Programs, a company that customizes gap year experiences for students, gave a presentation regarding the benefits of taking a gap year.

During his presentation, Sarouhan discussed the components of a gap year, ranging from what type of students would most benefit from the experience to cost, safety and transitional issues. According to Sarouhan, a gap year is a time to mature, form connections with like-minded people, discover personal interests and gain independence.

According to Oliver Costolloe ’15, students taking time off after their senior year of high school to explore their options is generally advantageous.  
“So many people are so anxious at the start of senior year to just get it done and go to college, but taking even just three months off and experiencing something like this and not just diving into what everyone else is doing, is really beneficial,” Costolloe said.

There is no limit for the structure of a gap year, for they can be customized to meet the needs and interests of each individual, Sarouhan said. Taking a gap year does not necessarily mean traveling abroad to an exotic country. Many people stay in their hometowns, working as an intern or getting a job. According to Sarouhan, some gap years are free, while others are costly, and can range from just a few weeks to an entire year.

The event continued from 2-4 p.m. in the cafeteria. Directors of over 25 gap year programs were in attendance, handing out Informational pamphlets and answering questions.
Jillian Goldstein / Sagamore staff
The event continued from 2-4 p.m. in the cafeteria. Directors of over 25 gap year programs were in attendance, handing out Informational pamphlets and answering questions.

The fair, held after the speech in the cafeteria from 2-4 p.m., featured many diverse gap year and summer program options. Informational pamphlets were available and many of the program directors were there to answer questions.

One program that participated in the fair was API Abroad. This organization leads both summer programs for high school students and gap year programs. The destinations of API include Argentina, Cambodia, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, England, France, Ireland, Italy, Spain and Thailand. While traveling abroad, participants are offered social, recreational and cultural activities, such as theater performances, concerts, cultural tours, local attractions and more.

After spending 12 weeks in Madrid, Spain, on a trip led by API, Oliver Costolloe ‘15 returned home with a variety of new skills and viewpoints.

“I think I matured a lot just being responsible for myself, and I took away a lot of new perspectives,” Costolloe said.

Another curriculum represented at the gap year fair was Ridge Mountain Academy. This campus-based academy is located in Whitefish, Montana and caters to students who want athletics to be a part of their learning experience. This program offers opportunities to receive high school and college credits for wilderness medicine, photo and video production, geology, snow science and more.

Where There Be Dragons is a program that focuses on global citizenship and leadership. Their curriculum offers summer, gap year and college-accredited trips to places such as China, where students can learn Mandarin or travel on the Silk Road. Other locations include: Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Indonesia, North India and Sikkim.

Another program in attendance at the Gap Year Fair was Seamester, which allows students to either take a semester abroad in college or an entire academic gap year, both aboard a boat. Participation in one of these adventures offers training in marine biology, oceanography, geology, meteorology, navigation and leadership and communication skills. The locations on the itinerary include the Galapagos, the Caribbean, Brazil, the Mediterranean, South Africa, the Maldives, Thailand, Australia, Fiji and Tahiti and French Polynesia.

The wilderness training program, Outward Bound, was also present at the fair. Their gap year and semester expeditions range from 30 days to 85 days. These expeditions include trips to the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Winterline Global Skills Program attracts students who don’t want to focus on one area in particular. According to the program, participants spend nine months traveling to 10 different countries, take away 100 new skills and will learn to be more independent and confident.

In The Leap program, students can work with children through volunteering or internship opportunities while protecting wildlife in the process. Participants travel to Asia, Africa, South America and the Caribbean.

The Gap Year Fair provided information on many additional programs, including: The Experiment in International Living, Thinking Beyond Borders, ER, Cross Cultural Solutions, Eastman Immersion, Center for Interim Programs, Dynamy, Enroute Consulting, Winterline, Irish Gap Year, Pacific Discovery, Adventures Across Country, NOLS, Frontier Gap, The Leap, Visitoz, CIEE, Gapforce, LeapNOW, Amigos International, High Mountain Institute, Experience GLA, Youth International, The Rothberg International School at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, NuVu Studio, Watkinson School, Kroka Expeditions, Art History Abroad, Carpe Diem Education, Founder and Chief Internship Officer, Expedition Education Institute, ISA, YMCA of the Rockies, InventiveLabs, Rustic Pathways and Thinking Beyond Borders.