Plan for your gap year as you will plan for your college years.
The most meaningful, interesting, rewarding and just plain fun gap years require careful and thoughtful plans. But, hey, I can wait and just figure it out after I graduate, right?
Actually, no. Gap year programs often require applications, sometimes looking a lot like - gasp! - college applications. Most have application deadlines, well in advance of start dates.
Here's a link to an article from the American Gap Association (yes, this is an accrediting organization). We like their step-by-step breakdown on how to plan for a gap year that fulfills your most ambitious dreams. As it should.
There are loads of organizations which provide service and immersion trips. One place to begin is Go Overseas, a third party site which gathers program ratings, kind of like a TripAdvisor for summer and gap year programs.
Several of the organizations on this approved list from the American Gap Year Association also have summer programs.
Colleges are also resources for gap year and summer program suggestions. Yale University offers this listing of recommended summer and gap year programs.
Want more? Check out some of these perennial student favorites: Broadreach, Rustic Pathways, Where There Be Dragons, Thinking Beyond Borders, and Adventures Cross Country.
Not only is a gap year a financial commitment, it is a commitment to your personal growth. Choose wisely. Take time to consider different alternatives, research thoroughly, and ask lots of questions.
Enjoy the journey!