By Kristin Hiemstra A shameless believer of human potential, Kristin is as dynamic and energetic about career issues as a nice person can be. She combines real world knowledge from her many years of hiring experience in Washington, DC with a decade of college admissions experience.

Free Gap Year And Exchange Programs

By Kristin Hiemstra Posted August 28, 2014 at 6:00 am

Going straight to college is not what everyone wants to do. Sometimes you just need a little adventure in your life!

Here are some free gap year options:

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1. Congress-Bundestag Vocational Youth Exchange

The Congress-Bundestag Vocational Youth Exchange Program offers graduating high school seniors the opportunity to live with a German host family, participate in a training or school program, and gain experience working abroad through an internship with a German company.  – See more here.

2. Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange

Speak German and learn more about German culture!  The CBYX program provides merit-based scholarships for eligible high school students to spend an academic year attending a German school while living with a host family. The program provides a network of support through reputable international exchange organizations, field staff, trained volunteers, and carefully screened host families to ensure the safety and success of the participant’s exchange experience. No previous language skills are required. If you have a passion for learning languages and want to immerse yourself in German culture, this program may be for you! You will return from the program with a greater perspective on German social, economic, and political life. – See more here. 

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3. Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange & Study (YES) Abroad

Gain a better understanding of the Muslim world! The YES Abroad program provides merit-based scholarships for eligible high school students to develop a perspective of a Muslim culture first-hand. Participants spend an academic year attending a high school while living with a host family in select countries with significant Muslim populations. A network of support through partner international exchange organizations, field staff, trained volunteers, and carefully selected host families helps ensure a successful exchange experience.  – See more here.

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4. National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y) 

The NSLI-Y program provides merit-based scholarships for eligible high school students and recent graduates to learn less commonly taught languages. Participants will spend a summer or academic year studying a language while immersed in the culture and day-to-day life of the host country. A network of support through experienced international exchange organizations, field staff, trained volunteers, and carefully selected host families helps ensure a successful exchange experience.   Now more than ever, linguistic skills and cultural knowledge are important building blocks for American citizens to be leaders in a global world. No previous language skills are required. If you have a passion for learning languages and want to immerse yourself in a foreign culture, this program may be for you! – See more here.

asfasf5. Americorps

AmeriCorps is a network of local, state, and national service programs that connects over 70,000 Americans each year in intensive service to meet community needs in education, the environment, public safety, health, and homeland security. AmeriCorps’ members serve with more than 2,000 non-profits, public agencies, and community organizations.

Members serve in full or part-time positions over a 10-12 month period.  Upon completion of their service, members receive a Segal AmeriCorps Education Award of up to $4,725 to pay for college, graduate school, or to pay back qualified student loans.  Those members who serve part time will receive a partial education award.  Those members who participate in the VISTA program also have the option to select either the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award or an end-of-service stipend of $1,200.  Members also have access to other benefits such as: health insurance, child care, training, and student loan forbearance during their service.  Some members also receive a modest annual living allowance depending on the terms of their program.

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6. City Year

Every year, nearly 3,000 young people join City Year and dedicate 11 months to make a lasting impact on students and communities across the country. #makebetterhappen is a place where you can hear some of the great things that are happening every day, from the corps members themselves. It’s a place where thousands of stories all add up to #makebetterhappen.

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7. American Youth Leadership Program

The American Youth Leadership Program is a leadership training exchange program for U.S. high school students and adult mentors. Participants travel abroad to gain firsthand knowledge of foreign cultures and to examine globally significant issues, such as the environment and climate change, food security and nutrition, the role of the media, and science and technology. Programs involve homestays with local families, language lessons, leadership training, and community service opportunities. Participants implement a follow-on project in their communities once they return home. – See more here.  

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8. Youth Ambassadors

The Youth Ambassadors Program brings together high school students and adult mentors from countries across the Americas to promote mutual understanding, increase leadership skills, and prepare youth to make a difference in their communities.

Exchanges are primarily from Latin America and the Caribbean to the United States, but also include delegations from the United States to select countries.

Participants will engage in workshops, community service activities, team building exercises, meetings with community leaders, and live with local host families. Upon their return home, the students apply what they have learned to implement projects that serve needs in their communities. - See more here

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