Gap Year Options

Don't know what to do after graduation? 
Planning to take a year or two off from further studies or before beginning full-time employment?
Discover how a year-or-two commitment working in the community or abroad can benefit you!

U.S. Programs

AmeriCorps: Under the umbrella of the Corporation of National and Community Service (CNCS), AmeriCorps places young people in non-profit organizations around the country for a one-to-two-year term that ends with an education award. Other benefits include a living stipend, loan forbearance (they’ll even pay the interest accrued), and health care.

There are three primary AmeriCorps programs—each with a different focus:

Many of the following programs also provide an AmeriCorps award as part of their compensation:

City Year focuses on the national dropout crisis, placing corps members in school districts to serve as tutors, mentors, and role models.

Food Corps is dedicated to bringing healthy food infrastructure to schools. Corps members serve in limited-resource communities and do three things: teach kids about what healthy food is and where it comes from, build and tend school gardens, and bring high-quality food into public school cafeterias.

Earth Corps provides an intensive year-long training program combining field service with education on environmental restoration.

Lutheran Volunteer Corps, Jesuit Volunteer Corps, and the Justice Leadership Program are year-long service programs for people 21-and-over seeking to unite faith, social justice, community living, and simplicity.

Teach for America's mission is to build the movement to eliminate educational inequity. Many cities have Teaching Fellows programs that are similar in mission to Teach for America (see Denver Teaching Fellows for an example).

Options Abroad

Teach Thailand Corps recruits and places American graduates in underserved Thai schools to teach English and other subjects.

JET The Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme promotes language education and regional internationalism by inviting foreign individuals to work in local government organizations throughout Japan.

Peace Corps volunteers live and work in developing countries with the goal of helping those countries while promoting cross-cultural understanding.

See our International Opportunities page for additional overseas resources.

Additional Resources

Going Global: Research countries before committing to an extended stay.
CES Career Resource Library books: 

  • The Gap Year Book, by Charlotte Hindle and Joe Bindlos: A travel guide for those who want to take time off between their education and a career.
  • The Back Door Guide to Short-Term Job Adventures, by Michael Landes: This is a great book for exploring alternative short-term paths in volunteer programs, state and national parks, ski resorts, sustainable living and farming, artist communities, which also includes various organization indexes.
  • The Everything Guide to Alternative Careers, by James Mannion: Explore possibilities you might never have considered.
  • Work Your Way Around the World by Susan Griffiths: A travel guide for finding short-term and temporary work around the globe.
  • How to Live Your Dream of Volunteering Overseas, by Joseph Collins, Stefano DeZerega, Zahara Heckscher: Lists and complete profiles of over 100 organizations for any length of time commitment, plus an interest index.
  • So, You Want to Join the Peace Corps…What to Know Before You Go, by Dillon Banerjee: Great answers to frequently asked questions about joining the Peace Corps, lots of additional information and a list of alternative programs.