College Applications and Gap Years

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Sterling College Senior Dinner

Sterling College Senior Dinner


What do college admissions officers think about Gap Years, and how might the decision to take a Gap Year impact your college application prospects? In this post Tim Patterson, Director of Admission at Sterling College in Vermont, sheds some light on Gap Years from the perspective of a college admissions officer.

More and more students are choosing to take a gap year between high school and college. For college admissions officers like me, the growing popularity of gap years is a trend that merits close attention. Personally, I am a big fan of gap years because I believe that students who take a gap year arrive at college having gained a clearer sense of purpose that helps them focus and succeed in their program of choice. However, Gap Year students need to figure out how to approach the college application process, including the question of when to apply.

Should I Apply To College Before Taking A Gap Year?

Students often ask if they should finish their college applications and defer enrollment before taking a Gap Year. Most colleges, including Sterling College, allow students who receive an offer of admission to defer for up to one year by submitting an enrollment deposit. Alternatively, some students choose to hold off and complete the application process during their gap year, or apply after the gap year is complete. There are pros and cons to each approach.

The conventional wisdom that I usually hear from college counselors and parents of gap year students is that students should finish the college application process before embarking on a gap year. The argument goes something like this:

Settling on a college before a gap year helps students because they can access all of the resources of their high school college counseling office while completing their college applications. Additionally, by deferring college enrollment before a Gap Year students can make the most of their Gap Year experience instead of being distracted by college applications.

If you stop and consider the perspective of many college counselors and parents this argument makes a lot of sense. After all, counselors and parents have been known to worry that a Gap Year might somehow lead a student off track, and they want the reassurance of knowing where and when the student will go to college. Also, since high schools keep track of the plans of graduating seniors and often look favorably on graduating a high percentage of college bound students, guidance counselors can sometimes feel pressure to successfully “close the file” on each student before graduation. However, I think a different approach is often the right call.

You can apply to college during a Gap Year

You absolutely CAN apply to colleges during a Gap Year, and for many students I think that doing so is the right choice. Here’s why:

A Gap Year is a time of growth and change

Students almost always gain a great deal of perspective and maturity during a Gap Year, and many emerge from the experience with new academic interests and a more evolved sense of purpose. Applying this new perspective and self-knowledge to the college search can lead to students to consider college options that are a better fit given the self-knowledge gained during the gap year. Precluding that possibility by choosing a college before the gap year might be the “safest” option, but I think it’s a missed opportunity.

Not going to college right away isn’t a catastrophe

The average age of a student here at Sterling College in Vermont is 22, and generally speaking students who have life and work experience before college are more focused and successful in their studies. There is nothing wrong with delaying college until you’re fully ready, clear-headed, and prepared. If your Gap Year leads you to other opportunities, it’s OK to take advantage of them instead of imposing a fixed end to your gap year experience.

A Gap Year can make your college applications stronger

When my colleagues and I are evaluating applications, we look for things that set an applicant apart. Students who are able to describe their Gap Year are often our most captivating applicants, and we know from experience that students who have completed a Gap Year are often better prepared for success in college than their peers who attend college straight out of high school.

Students with a clear sense of purpose thrive in college

I keep coming back to the phrase “sense of purpose” because I think it’s a pivotal part of the whole conversation about Gap Years and college applications.

Like many colleges, Sterling College has a clear mission and purpose – we happen to be focused on a mission of environmental stewardship, with majors in Sustainable Agriculture, Sustainable Food Systems, Ecology, Outdoor Education, and Environmental Humanities. It takes a very focused student to succeed at Sterling, and we look hard for evidence of that sense of purpose during the application process. A gap year is a great opportunity to hone in on a sense of purpose, and then approach college applications with clearer focus and intent.

Gap Year students can be savvy about financial aid

Finally, a word about affordability. I believe that we are in the midst of a student debt crisis in this country, and I am often shocked at how little students and parents know about financial aid and college affordability in general. I could write a whole series of posts about financial aid, but here are the points that are most relevant to gap year students:

  • Financial aid packages can change from year to year.
  • Students are in the best position to advocate for an affordable financial aid package BEFORE they commit to a college.

By committing to a college before receiving the financial aid package for the academic year in which they plan to attend, students sacrifice all of their leverage and are unable to compare financial aid packages and find the best fit at the best price.

The choice is yours

Ultimately, the choice of whether to apply to college before, during, or after a gap year is up to you. If you have already have a clear sense of where and why you want to go to college, by all means go ahead and lock in your plans before your gap year. Just don’t feel as if there is only one path that you need to follow. One of the most important lessons of a gap year is that you are free to make your own choices, and use your own compass to navigate the world. This is true in life, and in college as well.

To contact Tim Patterson, or learn more about Sterling College, please visit www.sterlingcollege.edu.

Travel Access Project Announces Grants for Gap Year Travel

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$3000 USD Gap Year Grant for 2017-18

We’re very excited to announce the arrival of some new grants on the Gap Year travel scene. Travel Access Project, which is developing open-source educational resources for every country in the world, is also making a big splash this spring by announcing TEN $3000 grants for Gap Year Travel.

Seven of these will be awarded through TAP. Three will be awarded through Wayfinding Academy, Go Overseas, and the AGA Back-a-Gapper Scholarship.

Apply Here!

  • Do you have a dream of taking a Gap Year to travel and learn?
  • Do you want to take a break between high school and college to experience the real world, expand your skill set and gain clarity towards your career path forward?
  • Perhaps you’re just graduating from university and you’re looking to take a year to apply some of what you’ve learned, intern, or just experience another culture before you enter the work force?

Maybe you just believe, like we do, that travel is fundamental to an education and you realize that your education won’t be complete, no matter the diploma, until you’ve wandered a while and become a citizen of the broader world.

Apply Now!

And please share with every one you know who might be interested!

How to Bootstrap a Solo Gap Year

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If you have almost no money, how can you fund a self-designed Gap Year experience? Most give up. Some get really creative.

Victor Saad was 25 years old and seriously considering MBA programs when he decided that he could get a better learning experience—and spend much less money—by designing his own professional gap year, or in his words, a “self-made master’s degree.” He made plans to quit his job and take 12 business apprenticeships over the course of 12 months.

But he had one big problem: money.

Victor’s adventures would take him across the United States and the world, including China, Costa Rica, and Cairo. All these flights and living expenses would have to come from somewhere. As Victor explained in his TEDx talk:

I don’t have some massive trust fund, and FAFSA doesn’t let you take a loan out for your own self-made degree. So I got creative. I asked 200 people to subscribe to the project at $10 a month. They would get to learn from my lessons and see what I was doing, and I would have the means to run the project. After several really interesting conversations about why in the world anyone should give me a penny, roughly 100 trusting individuals gave me just what I needed.

In other words, Victor crowdfunded his expenses—but not in the typical fashion.

When most of us think about crowdfunding, we think of IndieGoGo, Kickstarter, or GoFundMe: powerful platforms that can certainly be used to run a successful fundraising campaign. But many potential contributors are hesitant to fund someone else’s travel adventure, and many cannot give more than a small amount of money. Many of these traditional campaigns fail to meet their goals.

A Different Approach: Providing Value to Supporters

Victor took a different approach that employed the same core idea behind crowdfunding—you give me some money, I provide you with meaningful updates and rewards related to my project—but turned it into a subscription service instead. It’s a lot less intimidating to ask someone for $10 a month for the next 12 months than asking for $120 right now. This model also ensured that Victor wouldn’t take the money and then neglect to provide the goods he promised (as too many crowdfunding campaigners do), because a contributor could simply cancel their sponsorship. For contributors, this approach feels much safer and friendlier than a traditional crowdfunding campaign.

What about travel costs? Victor’s subscriber income wouldn’t cover all the flights he needed, so he asked his network for help. The father of one of his former students ended up giving him a number of “buddy passes” for standby flights.

What about lodging cost? Victor’s approach was to first ask friends and family if they knew anyone in the area he could stay with. Then he tried Couchsurfing, Craigslist, Airbnb, and “frantically posting on Facebook and Twitter.” Essentially, he took whatever the world offered him:

I stayed in everything from office spaces to vehicles to mansions. I was a vagabond. But it was okay. I was a student.

I learned all this while researching Victor before interviewing him for my podcast, and I wanted to make sure I wasn’t missing anything, so I asked Victor if he relied on any other sources of funding to make this year possible. He told me that some of the apprenticeships he took did pay him $15-$20/hour and that he sold some possessions to earn a few thousand dollars at the beginning of the year. Beyond that, he received no outside support and completely self-funded his 12-month, travel-intensive learning experience.

Recipe for Independent Gap Year Funding

It’s clear from Victor’s story that he had a number of resources that allowed him to pull off this feat of funding, most notably a wide social network that let him recruit a critical mass of subscribers and people to donate things like flight buddy passes. Regardless, I see a model here for any young person who wants to take a Gap Year, doesn’t have the cash to fund it, and is willing to exercise her entrepreneurial muscles.

Here are the ingredients:

Subscription service: Instead of running one big crowdfunding campaign to fund your travels, offer “subscriptions” to your gap year for a fixed monthly rate. Provide options ranging from $5/month to $30/month. (The best platform for doing this at the moment is probably Patreon.) For the different levels, offer a range of perks including monthly email updates, postcards, souvenirs, and videos (which can also serve as accountability and journaling tools for you). Aim to generate at least $1000/month from this income.

Donated airline miles and buddy passes: To tackle with the major expense of flights, ask your family, friends, and communities if they would be willing to donate accumulated airline miles or buddy passes to your cause. You can also get one of the many credit cards that gives you 50,000+ air miles as soon you spend a few thousand dollars (which you can launder through your parents when they need to buy something expensive like a new computer).

Free housing: Get really comfortable with using Couchsurfing to stay at strangers’ houses. Tap your extended Facebook network to find potential hosts where you go. Investigate work-trades situations with hostels or private homeowners who will let you stay for free in exchange for a few hours of work each day (find these opportunities at Help Exchange and Work Away).

Part-time work: Develop a highly transferable skill (what I call a Masseuse Model skill) that will enable you to pick up part-time work wherever you go.

Frugality: Learn how to cook rice and beans really, really well. Figure out to how entertain yourself without going out for drinks or going bungee jumping.

Good-looking personal website & travel blog: Tell the story of your financing efforts on a highly polished personal website, which also serves as your travel blog. Victor was a master of sharing his story online, being genuine, inspiring people, and gaining their support. Be like Victor.

 

Together, these six ingredients could fund a Gap Year. It’s not an easy path, but it’s a rewarding one. Good luck, gappers!

PS- If you try putting this plan into action, I’d love to follow your progress, and maybe even help you set up your subscription service. Write me: yourstruly@blakeboles.com.

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Blake Boles is the founder of Unschool Adventures, the travel and education company for self-directed young people ages 14-21. His most recent books include The Art of Self-Directed Learning and How to Live Nowhere. Learn more at blakeboles.com.

What To Do When You’re Spending Too Much On Your Gap Year

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RUT-ROH. After months of careful budgeting and keeping a watchdog eye on your bank account, your beloved 4-digit balance dwindled into a 3-digit balance and is now a lowly 2-digit balance. You’re in the red zone, but with a little wave of your money wand you should be able to get out of this penny-pinch in no time.

Notice we didn’t say you’d be ramen or street-food free. You need to buckle down and treat each dollar like the hard-earned money it is – cutting corners whenever possible and sacrificing your indulgent treats for survival. You need to be savvy. You need to have benevolent friends. You need to be on top of it. Here’s how to get out of a financial pinch while on your Gap Year.

Don’t Let Your Bank Account Dwindle!

Before you travel on your Gap Year, make a pledge to yourself to keep a little nest egg – you don’t want to come home empty handed, right (otherwise how will you finance your binge-eating-marathons at your old favorite restaurants upon return?!). Commit to keeping at least $500 – yes, $500 minimum – in your bank account at all times. This can be an emergency fund that you can dip in (for emergencies ONLY) and a buffer space before your overdraft fees outweigh your dollars and cents.

Get a Credit Card

Ideally, you’ll be able to coordinate this prior to departing on your Gap Year. Your credit card doesn’t have to be your go-to payment resource, but they are handy to have in your back pocket if you run into troublesome waters. Remember to spend responsibly.

You can add your parents to your account if you know you’ll need a bit more accountability (spending habits are hard to curb when the cashflow is endless!). Make the minimum payment each month – at least – and don’t forget to remit payment on time to avoid late fees or unnecessary extra costs.

Find Creative Ways to Make Money

Depending on where you are spending your Gap Year, you may have a hard, or an easy, time getting work. If working as an American citizen is allowed, try to secure a lowstakes job in a friendly, relaxing, but still full-of-learning-opportunities environment. Opt for the local restaurants instead of the chain (to better practice your language skills, of course!) or try to score a part-time paid gig with the nonprofit you are volunteering at.

Find Creative Ways to Make Money Online

Another avenue for getting a paycheck is to seek remote jobs that are completed via the magic of the inter webs. If you have a knack for social media, love writing, or can teach English over Skype, you’re well on your way to having a desired skills set for many companies. Research forums online and sign up for remote job alert notifications. Popular online communities exist, such as this Facebook group, that are full of opportunities beckoning your name. Just make sure your resume is looking sharp!

Hammer Open That Virtual Piggy Bank

If you’re a bank-pro in the making, you probably have both a checking account AND a savings account. While your savings account should be all about delayed gratification, don’t feel (too) bad if you have to dip into your savings to make ends meet on your Gap Year.

Your future self won’t blame you too much (provided you use it on responsible purchases, not more tacky souvenirs) – especially if you realize that your Gap Year is an investment worth spending on.

Start a Fundraising Campaign

Use online crowdfunding platforms like FundMyTravel to make a couple extra bucks from your kindhearted friends and family. Don’t go overboard here – you’re not saving up money for shark diving or bungee jumping – don’t abuse their generosity. Instead, communicate clearly your intentions for spending the money on X, Y, or Z that is necessary to sustain your life abroad.

Hit up Mom, Dad, Grandma, etc.

This should be your very last resort, but it isn’t a bad option to consider – especially if you are up front about owning your relative lack of financial responsibility. Expressing what you’ve learned throughout the process of managing your own monies — including the hard work you put into budgeting and saving for your trip — while also committing to repaying the loan in full — might be just the ticket to convince your lovely-and-did-we-mention-so-wonderful beneficiaries/trip sponsors.

While it may never be possible to say “Bye Bye” to financial stress on your Gap Year (or, spoiler: ever in life), you do have a choice in how you respond. You can whine, pig out on cheap noodles, and blame others, or you can take ownership for the task at hand and get to work on resolving it. So it’s up to you: can you stomach another lukewarm styrofoam cup of food or no?

Photo Credit: Pexels

A Parent’s Guide to All Things Gap Year

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parentsgapYour kid just proposed a (slightly outlandish) idea to you: “I want to take a Gap Year.” Maybe you’re 100% on board (you don’t need lots of convincing to understand its benefits) or maybe you’re still on the fence. It’s okay to worry – after all, you have your child’s best interests in mind, right? Regardless of which side of the support spectrum you fall in, here’s everything a parent needs to know to help their kid rock a Gap Year.

Finances

Ah, yes. Money. The necessary evil (and backbone) to a successful Gap Year. The important thing to keep in mind, as a parent, is that a Gap Year is an investment. There is plenty of data suggesting students that take a Gap Year eventually become successful, happy, productive adults. So, like any typical freshmen year for your kid, look at this year as short term (financial) sacrifice for long term gain.

That doesn’t mean you have to foot the entire bill. Gap Years, at their core, are a time for incredible learning. This can extend to the pocketbook. Invite your kid to play an active role in saving money, budgeting, and fiscally planning for their gap year. In fact, you may be doing yourself (and your kid) a disservice by not including them in the process of financing their Gap Year.

Activities

Your child can pick from a variety of activities for his or her Gap Year. It’s ultimately up to your kid’s passions and interests that will fully influence their decision. Work, language study, volunteering – all excellent (and oft-chosen) options for students.

Other students may choose to travel fully, to spend their year backpacking and foregoing a specific program. This is a fine option, though there is the added risk of your child not having a reliable safety net, as well as a higher potential for them to not spend their time productively.

Talk to your kid about the bigger picture of their gap year activity decisions and how they can positively (or negatively) affect their next steps in life, be that college, more years of travel, joining the workforce, signing up for the military, etc.

Locations

The beauty of a Gap Year is that it can be done anywhere! Talk with your kid about their goals for their Gap Year. Do they want to get to know one region, such as Latin America or the South Pacific, intimately? Would they rather have a taste of a little bit of everything, something like a gap-year-world-tour-sampler-platter?

Encourage your child to be intentional about their Gap Year destination decisions. Avoid using language that lends itself to being too “touristy,” especially if certain destinations or communities are being harmed by increased foot traffic from international visitors. While you can get excited for Angkor Wat, be sure you more strongly emphasize how cool it will be to get to know Cambodians, contribute to a meaningful volunteer project there, or learn Khmer.

Safety

Safety is probably your #1 concern as a parent – and for good reason. You don’t need to turn on the evening television to know the underbelly of the world at large. Fortunately for you, this is just one small slice of the real picture; many places on the planet are actually quite safe (and wonderful!) to visit.

That being said, you should talk to your kid about street smarts. Make sure they’re prepped with the necessary information to be responsible in times of trouble (passport copies, emergency numbers, etc.). Talk to them about splitting their money into multiple places on their person. Talk to your kid about crowds, political rallies (and how they should be avoided), and the fact that the US government can do little to help you if/when you are arrested abroad.

Many parents ask their kids to seriously consider signing up for a program rather than traveling independently. This added layer of safety, reliability, and general protection and security helps parents have more sound sleep (and your kid to relax more). Instead of worrying about their own well-being, your kid can just worry about all the awesome learning, instead.

Communication

Maybe I’m preaching to the choir, but it’s important that you talk with your child as they are on their Gap Year! You will need to check in to hear how they’re doing, listen to their favorite stories from their adventures, feel closer to your kid while they’re far away. It’s important for both parent AND student to keep the lines of communication open.

However, don’t plan on talking to your kid every. single. day. while they’re traveling. It can be tempting, especially with the proliferation of smartphones and pocket internet, but it can actually detract from your child’s ability to succeed rather than elevate it. It can make your child feel more homesick, less invested in their experiences, and more detached from their life abroad. We know you mean well, but sometimes, saying “No” to the daily text message or Skype call is the way to go.

Make a plan to chat once per week for a good chunk of time (an hour or more); otherwise, minimize communication to the occasional email and intermittent Facebook comment.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Will my kid be “behind?”

Technically, yes. But that doesn’t mean he/she is worse off for it. In fact, as far as maturity and clarity is concerned, your kid will probably be leaps and bounds ahead of their peers. But they might start college a year+ later than your friends’ kids. “Behind” is relative. If you look at it another way, your student will be a whole world ahead of her peers.

2. How can I support my kid on their gap year?

The conversations you have with your child, starting now, should emphasize your kid using their Gap Year to learn as much as possible. Empower your kid to design a gap year that is related to their interests or might introduce them to new ones. Encourage your child to be intentional with their time and prudent with their money. Financial support is important, but not nearly as important as emotional support.

3. “But I’m going to miss them!”

We know it’s hard. No one wants to empty the nest, but it’s important that you separate your personal sadness for the temporary good bye. Don’t let it hinder your child or influence their decision. It’s okay to feel sad (teary airport partings are REAL), but try to keep it together for your kid, too.

4. “Are you SURE I can’t text my kid every day, even just to tell them I love them?”

Don’t do it. This is a time for them to grow, to step into their own, to really embrace the transition from “kid” to (semi-functioning) adult. It’s hard. It’s weird. It feels wrong. But it’s a stage, and you’ll both eventually come out on the other side. The best part? Your kid will come home knowing how to do their own laundry.

Image Credit: João Silas (Stocksnap)

Article contributed by Megan Lee

Developing a Gap Year Savings Timeline

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You’re welcome. Here’s the most useful gap year financial planning guide on the internet. Happy saving (and spending – you earned it!).

General Saving Tips For Your Gap Year

This is probably one of the biggest purchases of your life – yikes! It can be challenging for high school students to reach their gap year savings goals particularly because there is no materialistic, tangible, physical, immediate gain from all of your work. Saving money to buy “experiences” later sounds so lame.

But it isn’t. We promise. Your future self will thank your current self for being so wallet savvy.

TIP #1: START PLANNING AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE

Since the GMO movement hasn’t given us a true dollar tree quite yet, your best bet is to have time on your side as you plan for your gap year budget. We’ll presume that you’ve already had the long talk with Mom and Dad and that they’re supportive of your decision.

*Hopefully* they also agreed to commit some sum of money to help you offset the costs. You may’ve felt a little slighted at first with the actual amount, but you should actually feel excited to contribute to your own Gap Year prep in this way. It involves an extreme amount of investment (both financially and personally), so it will make your Gap Year feel all the sweeter when it comes to fruition, knowing you’re really earned it!

One year or more ahead of you is essential to tackle the pending cost with ease.

TIP #2. YA GOTTA BUDGET

We all mean well when we plan out a budget, but without discipline, impulse control, diligent logging of your income and expenses, you might end up desperately selling your old Pokemon cards for quick cash. It doesn’t have to be this way. You can use finite dollar amounts (such as $40 monthly) or a percentage of your paycheck (40% monthly) to start.

Track your expenditures to see where your hard-earned-cash is going – it’s enlightening when you see the numbers, and you can use your new-found stats to make more informed decisions about where your money goes.

TIP #3. TELL EVERYONE YOUR GOALS!

It doesn’t have to be in a “Look at me, look at me!” way or with a guilt-ridden undertone a la Eeyore (“I guess I’ll never have enough money for a gap year, rich Uncle Kevin…”). But, much like weight loss, the more people are aware of your current efforts, the more accountability you have towards them. Further, this group of people can likewise become a huge source of support – it’s great to surround yourself with friends who talk you out of buying that new NBA ball cap, even if you really want it.

TIP #4. GET MOTIVATED CREATIVELY

Add photos to your walls, bookmark favorite websites, pin EVERYTHING. Surround yourself with quotes, images, art that inspires wanderlust. Declare a savings mantra, write it on a piece of paper, and stick it in your wallet (right next to your debit card or dollar bills). Hang a photo from your car’s rearview mirror. Decorate your school books with well-filtered photos that make you giddy to travel.

You’ve got this.

The Gap Year Savings Timeline

COUNTDOWN BENCH MARK WHAT, HOW, WHY?
One year before departure $0 Ball park OVER-estimate your total cost. With eyes on the prize, get to work on pinching pennies.
11 months before departure $1000 Empty all of your coat pockets, cash all of your birthday checks, and start taking at least $100 from your weekly paycheck to devote to saving.
10 months before departure $2000 Your commitment is waning – start getting creative. Build the online fundraiser and push it to your networks.
9 months before departure $2500 It’s the holiday season. Buy your family some nice gifts. Don’t stress about savings, but don’t drink too many offensive holiday lattes, either.
8 months before departure $4000 Whoohoo! Your aunts and uncles pulled through with holiday gifts, so you were able to up your savings this month.
7 months before departure $4500 You had way more, but you had to buy a passport and apply for your visa. Rats! Expenses!
6 months before departure $5200 You’re losing steam again. Is it September yet? What’s the deal? You just wanna hang with your friends and buy that cute top. Remember: delayed gratification > instant gratification.
5 months before departure $6000 You got a new side job that can be done remotely, so you’re excited for the extra cash that’s more on your terms. Way to hustle!
4 months before departure $5800 You saved a bunch, but you also bought your flights this month. No shame in splurging on the direct route.
3 months before departure $7500 It’s getting serious. Summer is in full swing, and your part-time gig turned to 40 hours/week. You get really good at suggesting fun *free* activities for you and your friends to pass the summer nights. You pay a portion of your program fees.
2 months before departure $8300 You started buying some gnarly new equipment for the trip – cool Osprey pack!
1 month before departure $9000 The expenditures on equipment continue to fly off the shelf, but you’re a pro-saver now so you don’t sweat it. You’ve put in your two weeks notice and are excited to end the summer in style.
2 weeks before departure $8800 No work + final hang outs with friends + those pesky, last minute items to stuff in your backpack seriously add up.
1 week before departure $5000 You just had to splurge on your favorite pizza and buy the Adele CD. We understand. You also paid off a significant chunk of your program fees – good for you! – and now have a fat wad of 5000 to your name to take abroad.

Tools

Saving money and planning ahead for a major expense like a gap year is no joke. It takes time, commitment, thought, persistence, and some sacrifice. Luckily for you, there are many online tools available (hat tip to the internet!) to help you stay on track and reach your goals.

  • FundMyTravel is an online crowd-funding resource specifically designed to help travelers lessen the financial burdens of their work abroad. You can get friends and family (and even a technologically-savvy Grandma) to contribute funds to your campaign. You can also use an “Adventure Registry” so folks can opt to buy your backpack, fund your visa, etc. Neat!
  • Mint.com Ah, Mint. This web-based financial tool can also be downloaded as an app, and streamlines access to multiple bank accounts, as well as debit and credit cards. It’s helpful to have the info easily accessible in your pocket, so you can double check your balance before splurging on those summer music festival tickets.
  • Stay on a Budget App A great app that automatically tracks what you’re spending and where, taking the legwork out of annoying ratios or percentages. Again: access from your smart phone (which we have a hunch you use daily) helps this tool transition seamlessly into your daily-spending-life.

There you have it. Everything you need to know to give your poor spending habits the 1-2-punch. Find your green and later find your passion as you travel the world on your gap year.

Photo Credit: Andrew Pons

10 Gap Year Scholarships to Apply For Today

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You knew that there were scholarships available for university and college programs, but were you aware that there are also scholarships available for people taking Gap Years?

There are!

If you’re going through a Gap Year organization then it’s likely they are going to have some scholarship money to award. Be sure to ask for it! Even if you are charting your own course, or no funding is available through the organization you partner with, there are outside scholarships that you can apply for.

Back a Gapper

The “Back-a-Gapper” Scholarship program is a network of individual scholarships that individuals interested in taking a Gap Year are eligible to apply for. Each scholarship, listed in this Back-a-Gapper section, will have a brief description and instructions on how to apply.

The Humboldt Back-A-Gapper Scholarship is endowed by the generosity of Richard Stepp, a Humboldt State University Professor and philanthropist. Students must (A) be a resident of Humboldt County, California, (B) and be applying for an AGA-Accredited program. Over the next 3 years, roughly $20,000 will be given to individuals who meet these criteria and are selected by this competitive application process.

The Pollination Project

The Pollination Project gives $1,000 startup grants to individual change makers and projects that promote compassion around the world.

National Security Language Initiative for Youth

The National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y), sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, provides merit-based scholarships for eligible high school students to learn less commonly taught languages in summer and academic-year overseas immersion programs. Previous language study is not required, and language learners of all levels are encouraged to apply.

This is a scholarship for recent high school graduates or current high school students aged 16-18 to focus on “high need” languages. The current list includes: Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), Hindi, Korean, Persian (Tajik), Russian and Turkish.

Fund for Education Abroad

This award requires university credit. Fund for Education Abroad. The newly established Fund for Education Abroad (FEA) was created in order to open doors for deserving education abroad students.

Starting with the 2011-2012 academic year, FEA will award funds for students planning to study abroad on any academically rigorous programs. Designed by the FEA Advisory Board, FEA scholarships are intended to meet the financial needs of students who might not be eligible for government grants or existing funds limited to specific programs or groups of students.

America’s Unofficial Ambassadors

This scholarship requires university credit, too. Competitive scholarship for students who are primarily going to Muslim countries. The idea is that bridges are built through forming meaningful connections across cultural boundaries and they’re awarding money for people going to volunteer in the Muslim world.

Foundation for Global Scholars GRIT

The Foundation for Global Scholars is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization located in Denver, Colorado whose mission is to create global citizens and leaders by assisting students in achieving their personal and professional goals of obtaining cultural and academic experiences abroad. The Foundation will support this mission by awarding scholarships to help enable students to obtain an international experience. Students who are from underrepresented populations in international education are a priority.

Browery Youth Awards

arth Island Institute Brower Youth Awards for 13 – 22 year olds living in North America who show outstanding leadership on a project or campaign with social impact of environmental impact

Freeman Awards-Asia

This is another scholarship that requires university credit. This is for students primarily going to Asia and offers scholarships up to $7,000.

A Freeman-ASIA Award provides need-based funding to assist the recipient with the cost of the study abroad program and related expenses, including airfare, basic living costs, local transportation, books, etc.

Schepp Foundation

This award equires university credit. Do check the page for eligibility before applying. You’ll need to make a trip to NYC for a personal interview for this award and your costs for that will not be covered. People as old as 40 can apply for this grant, expanding the gap year demographic beyond the scope of most youth oriented programs.

Go Abroad Scholarships

Go Abroad has compiled their own list of scholarships and has some recommendations on the process of tracking down, applying for, and winning the ones best suited for you. They break them down by country of origin, as well as subject, all with a specific focus on going abroad (of course!)

Of course there’s always more to learn about financial aid for your Gap Year, visit our financial aid resources page to dive deeper!

Are you aware of Gap Year scholarships that we haven’t listed here? Please link to them in the comments!

Photo Credit: Ondrej Supitar