LEAPYEAR India - An incredible alternative Gap Year of college

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An extraordinary alternative year of college designed to assist a student in making a powerful and graceful transition from home to independence, high school to college, and adolescence into adulthood, which offers:

- Ten weeks of group travel to the Indian subcontinent
- A three-month solo internship anywhere in the world, chosen from our database of over 6,300 opportunities
- Four intensive residential retreats focused on life-path visioning, development of a high level of emotional literacy, and rites of passage into adulthood
- A fully accredited, integrative, experiential curriculum leading to a full year of academic credit.
- Access to financial aid and scholarships
- A full year of post-LEAPYEAR internship placements

Runs from September - May (fall start) or January - August (spring start).

LEAPYEAR can also be done for high school completion.

Questions & Answers


based on 10 reviews
  • Housing 8.2
  • Support 9.8
  • Fun 9.8
  • Value 9.9
  • Safety 9.1
Showing 1 - 10 of 10
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Traveling with LEAPNOW

My trip to Nepal and North India with LEAPNOW was my very first time traveling outside of the country. It was intense, it was beautiful, it was life changing, and I wouldn't trade that experience for anything else! I recommend this program if you are ready to change your life, listen to your heart, and see the world with clear eyes. The work you do during group travel is such a humbling and unique experience. The staff (which is more like family) thoroughly and carefully crafts the schedule to make your experience abroad the most culturally rich and special as possible.

Yes, I recommend this program

The best decision I have ever made

This program was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I chose to travel to India and Peru during my time at LeapNow and had the opportunity to explore new countries while having an incredible system of support and guidance that helped me navigate challenges and encouraged me to face my fears and difficulties without ever feeling alone.
While in India on group travel, I got take language classes in the foothills of the Himalayas, spend time with a wonderful homestay family in Varanasi, help build houses in the South Indian tropics, and far, far more than I could ever say in a simple review.
In Peru on my solo internship I chose to volunteer with the Sisters of Charity of Mother Theresa in a home for the dying, disabled, abandoned, and learned about caretaking and what it takes to live and travel independently.
Within the program I learned communication and problem solving skills, conflict resolution, cultural and social justice education, emotional literacy, group and solo travel skills, how to understand and maintain my own integrity, how hold myself accountable, how to create a healthy relationship with my own body, and how to create healthy, generative relationships with the people around me.
I use what I was taught in LeapNow virtually every day and will never be able to truly express my gratitude for this year of my life and all I learned from it.

Yes, I recommend this program
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The Best Year of My Life

Hello Everyone!
It's strange to think that a year ago I was in your position, furiously researching study abroad programs. I remember how overwhelming it was and how I didn't believe I would ever find the right one. Then by a chance of fate a family friend recommended Leapnow to me. Participating in this program was the best decision I have ever made. I was fortunate enough to travel through Nepal and Northern India during my group travel where we were exposed to different cultures in a way I have not witnessed in any other program. We lived and worked among the people, learning their language and customs.

Then coming back to the US Leapnow helped moderate the transition and provided a safe container to re-acclimate to society before going home. The retreats have given me tools I feel will be valuable for the rest of my life such as communication, leadership, emotional literacy and facing myself. I have also never before bonded to a group of individuals like I did my group. We are a family.

I would recommend this program to all students going through transition who want to really learn about themselves and the world we live in. It is not for the faint of heart, but I believe everyone has the capability to find true passion and potential through this incredible process.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Gifts that Keep on Giving

I completed the LEAPYEAR program four years ago, and I can still feel the positive impact the experience has on my life every day. Upon graduating High School I felt lost and aside from travelling and exploring during my gap year, I wanted a chance to emotionally develop, get to know myself better and clarify what I want in life. LEAPYEAR delivered as advertised and was as much an inner as exploration as it was an outward exploration. I spent six months traveling in Nepal, India, Nicaragua and Costa Rica gaining new experiences, skills, and perspective about myself and the world. LEAPYEAR gave me the support I needed to learn how to confidently and competently travel and navigate a foreign place where I don’t know the language or the culture by myself. These lessons carried over to other areas of my life and have been serving me ever since. The four retreats helped me to process and integrate my experiences traveling, as well as dive deeper into my inner exploration and develop emotional intelligence. I feel like I got a head start on becoming my adult self which has served me throughout university and especially now that I am transitioning from college life to what’s next. I am forever grateful for my LEAPYEAR experience and the gifts that keep on giving.

How can this program be improved?
You truly get out of this program what you put in. This is not necessarily something they should improve, however it is important to keep in mind when choosing a program that you must be committed and willing to fully participate to have a transformative LEAPYEAR experience.
Yes, I recommend this program
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I'm really happy I did it

The year was just so beautiful... nights stargazing on ashram rooftops in Nepal, Himalayan sunrise treks, delicious food EVERWHERE, misty mornings at the maacama campus in California...

Even deeper than that, for me, was softening into who I am as a human being. Learning that I'm not the only one who feels broken a lot of the times, learning to feel this deep sensation in my bones that I'm not alone in the universe - that I have friends all around me. The year itself was such a beautiful (and super FUN) exploration of not only the physical world, but my own heart.

The entire program itself was a springboard - it seems to have shifted my life in irreversible ways. Now I'm so much more capable of deicing for myself who I want to be in the world, how I want to relate to others, and what incredible life I want to build for myself. The power is in my hands, and LEAPYEAR gave it to me.

Yes, I recommend this program
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The Best Decision of My Life!

Every single day I think about my LEAP year experience, and when I do I am filled with gratitude. In LEAP every day is a unique way to grow in a way I lack the space to describe. Every day is wide awake

How can this program be improved?
I have no complaints about the program whatsoever. It is like art, to change anything, changes the experience that is unique to everyone.
Yes, I recommend this program
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I asked for "change" in my life and I recieved...be careful what you wish for...!

Every day on the land in Maacama during the retreats, or out in group travel in India and Nepal, or on my solo internship in Seville, Spain...every day was physically and actively different and yet the constant was a feeling of support, a passion from the staff and group leaders, love of travel and life in general, openness, patience, willingness and wisdom. Everyone brought themselves, their excitement, humor, creativity, genius(!) to the stage and it was an incredible time. Either sitting and writing a paper in India, or California, I felt proud to turn something in because I knew it was going to people who were reading it out of my own learning experience, not our of a systematic and literal grading...it was out of what did I do, what did I learn from it, who am I now? Every day is full of wonder, newness and a total sense of "holy cow, what I am doing is amazing!"

How can this program be improved?
What could be improved is the living situation. I gave it an 8 out of 10 because I know that the place is very safe, well-built and there is always something being furnished or improved on the land...and that's just it. I would love to have some more areas on the land for getting messy and creative outdoors, a basketball court, or a wall for murals. Also, I could have used some more space in the cabins, but then again...my group was huge and they are, like I said, improving on that group-by-group.
I also wish that I could have had more preparation, time or a big, obvious sign that said "figure out your internship by the time you get back to 2nd Retreat." It would be great if the leaders had reminded us more, if there was a time during the trip that could have been set aside for "hey, how's that internship research going? Let's figure it out together, if you need help."
Yes, I recommend this program
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Rock the Boat - It's Real!

It's so easy to pull on the lines fed to us, getting caught in what the world expects, and so, so hard to go against the known and create our own paths. My time at LeapNow really supported me and challenged me to find my own way, to lead instead of only follow. Traveling in a group with 9 other students through Nepal and Northern India really challenged me to work within the group dynamic, yet still be responsible for myself. It showed me how little I know of this world, and of myself.

Leapyear is by no means easy, or a vacation. If it were, it wouldn't be worth the mention or the time. I really learned that there is no time to waste faking my way through this limited amount of time I have here. I've come to really appreciate being real with myself, my peers, and those I most care about. That means rocking the boat and going through the yucky parts, but it's so worth the connections and journeys that really matter.

Another great aspect of Leapyear is the comprehensive learning that takes place. It was through cooking and working the land with my peers that I learned about work ethic and the impact of hard, honest work (even when it's the last thing I want to do). Learning doesn't just take place in the classroom. Learning takes place by getting your hands messy and by having the courage to explore what you never knew was possible.

Living in close quarters with 30 other students gave me a lot to work with, in terms of interpersonal dynamics. It really challenged me to work through conflict and build trust.

There really is so much more...all I can say is it's absolutely worth it. You will get out of it as much as you put in. If you want a real, life changing opportunity to learn in a really deep and creative way, do Leapyear.

How can this program be improved?
It's really great that there is financial aid available, but it is certainly not an easily affordable program. I wish that it was more easily accessed by marginalized groups. I do want to acknowledge that LeapNow is really doing the best they can with what they have.
Yes, I recommend this program
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An Amazing, Life-Changing Experience!!!

What an incredible program! I became interested in LEAPYEAR because of the travel aspect, along with the fact that you can get college credit for such an amazing year. And it delivered, but the year was so much more than that as well. LEAPYEAR equipped me to begin relating to the world as an adult, and helped me begin the journey of self-awareness and growth.

I went to India for my group travel time, and I've recently been back with LEAPYEAR's second year program. Its not a country that everyone will enjoy, but it is one of my favorite places on earth. The people are friendly and welcoming, there's always so much chai, and the culture is so different from my own that there was always learning taking place! LEAPYEAR did an amazing job setting up a variety of experiences so I got to volunteer, take classes, experience cultural events, and see the tourist sights. My leaders were amazing too, giving us enough guidance and structure to feel secure in, while at the same time giving us enough responsibility to gain confidence traveling internationally.

For my solo internship I went to Brazil to study Portuguese and work with at-risk young women. It was amazing to become part of a small local community on the coast of Brazil and feel like I was really making a difference, not to mention the great beaches and seafood!

I would highly recommend the program to anyone who is looking for something more or something different out of their college experience. It has changed the way I think about education and the world, and I never want to go back.

Yes, I recommend this program
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LEAPYEAR had a huge impact on my life

LEAPYEAR is an incredibly full program. Looking back on my time there, every day contained so much that it's hard to believe it was less than a year. On campus during the retreats, days were filled with workshops, cooking, and working on the land, and we were always pushed to bring awareness and intention to what we were doing. During my three months in India, the incredible outward experience of being in a place of such extremes (poverty and opulence often nestled side by side) was fuel for my journey of self-discovery. I remember specific moments of sitting next to Tibetan monks in prayer and debate, or looking up at the crystal night sky from the peaks of the Himalayas that are etched onto my memory forever. It's been nearly a decade since I started my journey, and I can see the branching paths of what could have been, and I realize that no alternate present that I can see is as good as the one LEAPYEAR has provided me.

How can this program be improved?
It's not a cheap program, for those with limited financial means. But I totally feel like it was worth it, and was provided a scholarship to cover the gap in what I could pay.
Yes, I recommend this program

About LEAPNOW: Transforming Education

Choose LEAPYEAR and embark on the most unique year of college on the planet. Travel abroad for 10 weeks in Latin American or India with a group of your peers. Explore your interests in depth and get real-world experience during your 3-month...