February 20, 2015

Your Gap Year from Idea to Reality: The Value of Working With Our Expert Counselors

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There are those who assume that planning a gap year has become a fairly simple task with the aid of the internet, college counselors, or various books and articles. These resources do provide extensive program listings, and even program reviews written by former participants. While it is truly exciting to see gap year opportunities gain such visibility, this volume of information is causing overwhelm for families researching options. It takes time, experience, strategy and a lot of question-asking to discern the best opportunities that meet all of a family’s criteria when planning a meaningful and safe gap year. Working with an expert gap year counselor – much like using a college counselor – can make all the difference in finding the best match between student and program.

At the Center for Interim Programs, we are admittedly biased in favor of using a gap year counselor to help conceptualize and implement one's gap year. Interim was founded in 1980 and is the oldest independent gap year counseling service in the U.S. We have worked with over 6,000 families, many of whom came to us after finding it difficult to create and organize a gap year on their own. 

Utilizing professional support planning one’s gap year can both facilitate a critical exploration of goals and interests, as well as save time, money and worry. Our strategic and personalized approach ensures that each segment of your gap year is well thought-out. Here are 7 benefits of working with our expert counselors.

1. Over 50 combined years in the field of experiential education.
Our team has decades of professional experience as gap year counselors, program directors and trip leaders. Collectively we have visited almost every continent in the world through our own gap years, academic studies, program leadership, site visits and personal travels.

2. Dynamic process in which students identify interests and prioritize goals.
Interim counselors listen to students without an "ought" or "should" in mind and with pure intent to determine interests and speak in the realm of possibility. We care about high-caliber, safe and sensible placements for students as they take ownership of their unique gap year.

3. Experience with a broad range of vetted options.
Our high quality and personalized recommendations come through 3 decades of program relationships, site visits, ongoing research, fact-checking and alumni feedback. We recommend options that are reputable and right for you. We do not accept commissions from our referrals.

4. Attention to your questions about colleges, safety, structure, budget and more.
With a 50-year history working closely with programs, academic institutions and families, we understand the questions you may have about a gap year. As an unbiased “third party” in your process, we can help address concerns, draw out ideas and mediate differences of opinion.

5. Ongoing support throughout the gap year.
We support students throughout their gap years. Challenges, new insights and opportunities may arise that can influence one’s original plan. If a change of heart occurs in the student, or a problem shows up on a program, we are here for advocacy, intervention and/ or a back-up placement if needed.

6. Budgeting strategy and low-cost considerations.
A family’s budget is as important a criteria as all of the others in planning a gap year. Our team has various strategies to make a budget stretch, and we also actively pursue low-cost gap options, including volunteer and work exchange placements.

7. Free 90-minute consultation.
Anyone who is tentatively curious or totally committed to taking a gap year should consider our free 90-minute consultation. In that meeting we will begin recommending options that best fit your criteria. Engaging in this session will not obligate you to work with Interim, but it will help to give immediate shape to your ideas, and reassurance to your family.

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