Burke Life
College Planning
How to Get Started

Gap Year

A gap year is the period of time between high school graduation and matriculation into college when an individual chooses to travel, volunteer, study, or work. Often, students find exciting opportunities across the country and abroad that offer unique experiences. During a gap year, students can travel and study new cultures while working, volunteer in areas of need, enroll in specialized academic programs, or develop invaluable skills for their future careers. Academic skills, work experience, personal growth, and increased self-awareness are all possible outcomes of taking a gap year.  

Any student who is considering taking a year off or deferring enrollment to college should go through with the application and selection process, and then make an informed decision about which school to enroll in. After choosing a school, students should consult with the college counselor, and research the various options that are available before making a final decision. There are many gap year or semester programs from which to choose, and we recommend that students do the work to ensure that they are selecting ones that satisfy their personal needs and goals.

Below we have provided a small sampling of some of the programs available:

City Year - This organization unites more than 1,400 young people ages 17-24 for a demanding year of full-time community service, leadership development, and civic engagement. Participants come from diverse backgrounds and put their idealism to work by tutoring and mentoring school children, organizing after-school programs, directing school vacation camps, and coordinating the Starfish Corps, Young Heroes, and City Heroes programs. Various programs are run from 18 locations throughout the United States. For more information, please visit www.cityyear.org. The headquarters for the program are located at:

City Year, Inc.
287 Columbus Avenue
Boston, MA 02116
Phone: (617) 927-2500

Youth for Understanding (YFU) - YFU is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected international exchange organizations. This program offers young people  ages 15-22  the opportunity to explore other countries and cultures, master new languages, and discover who they are. The program seeks to transform young people by instilling in them a passion for life-long learning and teaching them necessary life skills and knowledge. For more information, please visit www.yfu.org  or contact them at:

Youth For Understanding USA
6400 Goldsboro Road
Suite 100
Bethesda, MD 20817
Phone: 1-866-4-YFU-USA

Earthwatch Institute Student Fellowship - Earthwatch Student Fellows get to go on one of more than ninety Earthwatch expeditions around the world to work with top scientists, and other students in the field. Students learn how to do field research and help find answers to the most challenging environmental issues of our time. Topics include climate change and animal habitat studies. For more information, please visit www.earthwatch.org or contact them at:

Earthwatch Institute
3 Clock Tower Place, Suite 100
Box 75
Maynard, MA 01754
Toll-free Phone (US/Can): 1-800-776-0188
Phone: (978) 461-0081
Fax (978) 461-2332

Jesuit Volunteer Corps (JVC) - This program is based on the four core values of social justice, simple living, community, and spirituality.  Volunteers in this organization work for and with people who are homeless, unemployed, refugees, people with AIDS, the elderly, street youth, abused women and children, the mentally ill and the developmentally disabled. For more information, please visit www.jesuitvolunteers.org or contact them at:

Jesuit Volunteers International
1016 16th St. NW, Suite 400
Washington, DC 20036
Phone: (202) 462-5200

Woolman Semester Program - The Woolman Semester is a high school semester studies program for juniors, seniors, and 1st year postgraduates. This program is based on the themes of peace, justice, and sustainability. Students are challenged to think about world issues such as economic globalization, major historical events, and community sustainability. Students explore these issues while building reading, writing and speaking skills. For more information, please visit www.woolman.org or contact them at:

Sierra Friends Center
The Woolman Semester
Sierra Friends Camps
Address: 13075 Woolman Lane, Nevada City, CA  95959
Phone: (530) 273-3183
Fax: (530) 273-9028

USA Gap Year Fairs - USA Gap Year Fairs is a national circuit of events that bring together reputable Gap Year organizations, interested students and parents, high school college counselors and the Gap Year experts. These events are designed to provide students with a broad exposure of Gap Year Programs and the opportunity for face to face conversations with the people who work in the field. For students and parents interested in Gap Year, these fairs are the legitimate source to connect with reputable organizations that focus on Education, Service and Personal Growth. For more information, please visit www.usagapyearfairs.org or contact them at:

Kathy Cheng
Director of Admission
Dynamy Internship Year
Phone: (508) 755-2571 ext. 18
Email: kcheng@dynamy.org
Co-ed, progressive college prep school in Washington, DC featuring a challenging curriculum in an inclusive environment for grades 6-12.