Community Choice Awards 2019: Gap Year

Planning a gap year in 2020? It's an exciting opportunity to take your whole future into your hands: you can decide where you want to go, and what you want to do. In that process, a gap year provider can be incredibly valuable. They can offer support, guidance, and even an itinerary to help give your gap year some structure while still helping you achieve your personal goals for taking a gap year in the first place.

Gap year providers are a great alternative for people who want to take a gap year but don't want to plan it all themselves. Here on Go Overseas, we have gap year resources and program listings -- but we also have reviews from past gap year takers (aka gappers) on what the experience was really like. We ask gappers to rate their gap year experience in five categories: Housing, Support, Fun, Value, and Safety. To determine the top gap year providers, we looked at these categories and the overall ratings of each provider to come up with this list.

Learn more about how we scored programs for this year's awards by clicking here.

Overall Top Gap Year Providers

A gap year is many things to many people. Actually, it's likely that every person who takes a gap year has a completely unique reason for taking the gap year and what they hope to get out of it. When attempting to determine the best overall gap year providers, we looked at those who scored highly across every part of the gap year experience, from support and housing to fun, value, and safety. The following gap year providers had the top overall scores in 2019:

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Warriors Academy

Review Highlight:

"Warriors was a great year of adventure, new experience, hidden places and new people." -Donné, 21

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Silk Mandarin - Language Training Institute

Review Highlight:

"Silk Mandarin get the balance right between having fun in the classroom and also making sure each student makes progress in their Mandarin learning." -Simon, 46

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Rustic Pathways

Review Highlight:

"My Rustic Pathways trip showed me a new way to look at the world." -Natalie, 16

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Top Gap Year Providers: Housing

Whether a gap year means spending a year abroad in a single country living and working or a multi-country jaunt across one or more continents, housing is a pretty important part of the experience. We ask gap year alumni to rate the housing provided by their gap year provider; while there's some variance based on how many housing types they experience each year, the best providers offer quality, safe housing everywhere. The following providers had the top scores in the Housing category:

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Up with People

Review Highlight:

"Traveling with Up With People was an amazing experience." -Mark, 49

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Agualivar Spanish School

Review Highlight:

"Agualivar is an amazing Spanish immersion school!" -Savannah, 25

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Wanderlust Exchange

Review Highlight:

"I definitely suggest this trip to anybody with an interest in foreign languages and foreign cultures, anybody who is looking for a change in scenery and of their daily life, and really just anybody who has the time." -Austin, 19

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Top Gap Year Providers: Support

A gap year is a chance to really step outside the normal support structure you may know and feel comfortable with. That said, it's also a time where you still may need some support from time to time as you get your footing and take on the world. We ask gappers to rate the support they receive -- when they need it -- from their gap year program. The following programs had the top scores in the Support category:

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Teaching Nomad

Review Highlight:

"From the moment I signed up, till I got an official offer I was taken care of." -Atique, 26

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Let's TEFL

Review Highlight:

"I found the 120-hour TEFL course really fun to do, a good platform, well built, easy to navigate and learn from with all the info you need to start on your teaching journey. " -Maxym, 34

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High Mountain Institute

Review Highlight:

"Wonderful views, excellent instructors, smelly students: what's not to love?" -William, 19

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Top Gap Year Providers: Fun

We obviously think that taking a gap year should be a fun experience -- in fact, we ask every reviewer to tell us how much fun they had overseas, for almost every program they rate on our site. For gap year programs, we ask alumni to share what they rate the social scene for their gap year program. The following providers had the top scores in the Fun category:

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Seamester

Review Highlight:

"This trip brings new experience and friendships that you just can't find anywhere else." -Ashley, 22

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Up with People

Review Highlight:

"Traveling in Up With People was an amazing experience." -Mark, 49

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Manna Project International

Review Highlight:

"I worked with Manna as a 13-month Program Director in Nicaragua and it was the best decision I could have made." -Jessica

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Top Gap Year Providers: Value

Value is a tricky thing to score; everyone has a different idea of what they value and how much something is worth. Generally speaking, our goal in asking gappers to rate the value of a gap year program is for them to tell us whether they think the cost of their program translated into personal growth like they hoped it would. The following providers had top scores in the Value category:

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ARCC Programs

Review Highlight:

"This program was one of the most interesting, difficult, fun, and rewarding experiences I've had throughout my life." -Danna, 18

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Carpe Diem Education

Review Highlight:

"I had an amazing time on this trip, from seeing so many new places and working with so many cool organizations to meeting people I know I will stay in contact with for life." -Annika, 19

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Trek Epic

Review Highlight:

"I have had the pleasure of completing two treks with Trek Epic, both of which were amazing experiences!" -Alicia, 25

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Top Gap Year Providers: Safety

Safety is one of the most important factors we ask reviewers to rate; almost every program on Go Overseas (even those that aren't in the gap year category) is rated on safety. In particular, we want to know how students felt about their level of safety throughout the gap year. The following providers had the top scores in the Safety category:

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Seamester

Review Highlight:

"I was so nervous going into it but within the first 2 days I knew I had already made lifelong friends. The staff did a great job of making me feel comfortable onboard, helping us constantly, and even making us feel like friends and comrades rather than just being our instructors." -Katie, 22

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Irish Gap Year

Review Highlight:

"Taking any type of gap year is a massive leap of faith. But trust me when I say your fears will dissipate when you meet the good-natured and dedicated people who run this program." -Zoe, 18

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Wanderlust Exchange

Review Highlight:

"Thanks to Wanderlust, I was able to get help to go to China and to live in a Chinese family and experience China and its culture, its customs, its people, its food, first-hand, with support whenever needed and a safe, welcoming environment where you feel happy and purposeful." -Emma, 18

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