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Green River College Gap Year

About

Done with high school, but not ready to commit to a major or university? Live the American college life for 3, 6 or 9 months. Green River College's Gap Year program is designed to provide opportunities for self-discovery and career exploration. Individualized programs are crafted to meet the needs of a student, based on their dreams, aspirations, academic interests and level of English proficiency.

The program provides travel and study opportunities in California, Hawaii and Australia. Students live with host families or on campus and are able to participate in sports, recreation, performing arts and over 50 student organizations.

Take a year to find yourself through the Gap Year Program. There is no time like the present to experience different cultures, take enjoyable classes and make friends from all over the world.

Founded
1965

Reviews

Default avatar
Paul
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I decided to go abroad and spend one year in an English-speaking country to experience a different culture and to further advance my language skills. The US or Canada were my favorites considering that I never travelled outside of Europe before. At first I didn´t know about this type of gap year – more common are voluntary social services at home or Work&Travel (due to visa restrictions not possible in the US though). But then I figured out that there´s another great opportunity out there: taking an academic gap year. I was really excited because it combines the freedom of a gap year with education that would help me to decide what to choose as major after coming back.

I did some research and came across an article about a few colleges that offer this kind of program, GRC was among them. My choice for Green River College was mainly based upon three considerations. Firstly its excellent international program. I´d say that their website and program description left a very good first impression and convinced me that they really care for their students. Secondly its location in the Pacific Northwest. GRC has a beautiful campus not far from Seattle (and even within reasonable travel-distance to Canada!). Thirdly the opportunity to transfer to California, Hawaii or Australia and New Zealand after completing one quarter in Auburn. I decided to do the "Gap Year to California" program. So I attended Green River College during Fall quarter and Santa Barbara City College during Spring Semester.

There are so many things I liked about this program that it is difficult to pick one. What I liked most about GRC are all the events and trips the College is offering, So we got to explore so many cool sights throughout Washington state, while my favorite things about Santa Barbara City College were the beautiful town of Santa Barbara and the Californian sunshine (the song “it never rains in Southern California” is actually true!). It´s really hard to say which one I liked better, I am glad that I went to both GRC and SBCC because they offered very different and unique experiences.

I would definitely reconmend this program to friends! It truly is a once in a lifetime opportunity. During this year I not only took interesting classes and experienced college life in the US, but also got to see the whole West Coast all the way from Vancouver B.C. down to Mexico, made friends from all over the world and travelled to New York, Hawaii and Iceland. So if you like to travel, are curious to explore new things, want to become independent or just need a break from daily life in your home country, it’s a great choice!

What would you improve about this program?
The relation between domestic students and international students (I´d say at least 80% from Asia) in GRC´s student housing (CCA) is kind of disproportionate. So sometimes it can be though to make friends with Americans. It would be great if GRC somehow could convince more American students to live at CCA and to participate in all the events!
Default avatar
Pascal
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

My Gap Year at Green River College was the best time of my life and going there was easily the best decision I've made in my life so far. I met so many people from all over the world who I became friends with, travelled several states and visited lots of fascinating places. There is a lot to do in the Pacific Northwest and Seattle is an amazing, liberal city which offers something for everyone. The college itself offers lots of classes, meaning that Gap Year students are given the freedom to explore and find out what they want to do in life.

Also, the college offers trips to numerous sights around the Pacific Northwest. Activities range from hiking over shopping to museum visits. One can also join a club. There is definitely a lot to do at Green River College. No excuse for being bored! Working on campus is a good way to make some money and get to know people in a professional environment where students are given responsibility from day one.

The Gap Year at Green River College has broadened my horizon in lots of different ways. I met people who I will stay in touch with for the rest of my life. As we always said - no matter where you'll go in the world, you'll always be able to stay at a friend's place! The world became a much smaller place during my Gap Year and that has shown me how we are all much connected with and important to one another than one might think.

What would you improve about this program?
I cannot think of any major negative aspects when reflecting on my Gap Year.
If you are able to speak up for yourself, you will most likely not encounter any problem that you cannot solve by yourself or with the help of the staff at Green River's International Programs office.
Default avatar
Marielle
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Wow, what an amazing expercience I had at Green River College! Going on a gap year was one of the best decisions I made. First I would only stay for one quarter, yet I was having the time of my life and decided to stay longer. For international students they organize a whole introweek with also a really fun intro camp. It's the time to meet new people and get to know the Seattle area. My gap year aloud me to try out all kinds of different courses, like carpentry and photogrpahy. Living on campus was really chill. It is an easy way to meet new people and it's not far from the school, which allows for some extra minutes of sleep ;). The student life program is very well organized and I tried to participatie in every activity. Because of the activities I got to see many beautiful and fun places in Washington state and these activities got me really into hiking. It became one of my favorite activities to do on my free days. John the leader of most student life activities had me organize a small trip to Olympic National park, the rain forest. I couldn't believe my eyes. The colours of the trees and plants were so pure and pretty, if you have the chance I recommend a visit. Students are important at the college and the staff really supports and helps you. This gives many oppurtunities to active participate in school life and events, which really gives you the feeling that you are part of a community. I got to know so many fun and nice people, my confidence got a boost, I had the oppurtunity to make a lot of fun trips, experience cool classes and I made memories I will never forget.

What would you improve about this program?
This program is truly amazing! Yet one thing that they could improve could be the CCA contracts. CCA is the campus were students can live. I personally did not have a problem, because I signed for only one quater in the first place. But some people have difficulty to change the contract if they decide to live off campus in a host family or in an apartment.
Default avatar
Jelle
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

To explore Washington, a friend and I, decided to rent a car and go on a adventure for the weekend. Our idea was to go to Mount Rainier, Olympic National Park and Shi Shi Beach. We left early in the morning on Saturday. We drove to the South side of Mount Rainier. On our way there we suddenly saw an elk, standing in the middle of the road. It was still dark but we could clearly see it. The size of the elk was absolutely enormous! After seeing the elk, we went to watch the sun rise at reflection lake. Harsh conditions and spectaculair views, that is the best description of that sunrise. We had breakfast and drove further towards the parking lot form where our hike would start. We parked the car and started walking towards camp Muir (located at 10.188 ft.) On our way we had spectaculair views of rugged mountains and glaciers. When we looked closer we saw more and more animals. I was able to photograph them from very close in their natural environment, that was such an amazing experience. After hiking for several hours, we decided to go back to the car. We wanted to get some sleep, because we had to get up even earlier the next day if we wanted to make it all the way to the west coast. The next morning we woke up at 4 am, trust me, terrible! We drove off towards Olympic National park. We made a morning hike, watching the sun rise and eating breakfast with a spectaculair view over the valley. Temperatures were rising so to cool off we 'climbed' down all the way to the river below us. We took off our clothes and had a swim in ice cold glacier water. We went back to the car and drove a little bit further to the lake which was known for having lots of salmon during that time of year. We walked into the river and had over a hundred salmon swimming around us. The water was so cold you could feel the pain in your bones, but it didn't matter. The view, the salmon, the whole experience was so amazing. It was already getting late so we decided to head toward Shi Shi beach. We drove through a Indian reserve, super special. After a two mile race agains the sun we arrived at the beach. We were absolutely speechless. It was one of the most rewarding and special sunsets. The only mistake we made was that we didn't think of out way back. It got dark really fast and we still had to hike back those 2 miles trough the woods with bears, snakes and other creepy animals. To make this even better, we only had one flashlight and that was wasn't even working properly. Nevertheless, after hiking for more than an hour we made it back to the car. We drove back home and came home early in the morning. The next day we had class, but we still thought about the amazing weekend we had! I'll never forget this weekend.

What would you improve about this program?
As you guys say, no program is perfect. This one came pretty close to it. But if I really have to improve one thing it would be the 'extreme' sport activities. I was part of the extreme sport video and photography team. We often went out to amazing locations somewhere in Washington State or California. If we showed videos to friends they all thought it was amazing but nobody had the courage to go themselves. Maybe it there would be more organized trips, more students will explore nature and learn more about the U.S. than just Seattle and LA. The nature is so pure and raw, people should pay more attention to it.
Default avatar
Kiki
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I came to Green River as a young inexperienced recent high school graduate. I didn't know what I wanted to do in life and found this a great opportunity to get to see a different side of the world and learn lots of English. I signed up for 6 months of studying abroad. The reason for me to choose Green River is because they told me that they took good care of their students and considering my age, I just turned 17 before I left, I really needed the bit of extra help.
In my first quarter homesickness completely threw me off. I wasn't sure what I was doing and why I was doing it. Luckily, the staff took care of me really well and noticed within a few days that I wasn't doing well. They took me aside an made sure to listen to me and to help me the best they can. This was a true blessing. They helped me get involved on the campus community, and it didn't take long to make friends in the many different student life activities offered. I attended activities like Halloween parties, ice skating, hiking trips and many more!
After about a quarter I realized that my time went by really quickly and thinking of leaving in another quarter made me really sad. So I decided to stay and get my Associates Degree. I found a job on campus, and got even more involved in the student life. My hard work in the campus community allowed me to apply for and receive a scholarship to help fund my education.
Green River College has a lot to offer for the students who are willing to work hard and get involved. If you're open for a new opportunity, and want to meet people from literally all over the world, this would be a great place to go!
This January I'll be visiting my friends in Sweden and Switzerland, and I never thought I could build friendships all over the globe.

What would you improve about this program?
Green River College is pretty far from Green River by bus. It takes over an hour to go to the big city. In the beginning it would stop me from going there, which I found a shame looking back on it. Even though it is far from the city, I would really recommend students to still take the bus during the weekends and explore more of the beauty the Pacific Northwest offers.

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Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Kiki van Essen is from a small village in the east of the Netherlands. She is currently studying at Green River Community College in Auburn Washington where she started last year as a gap-year student, and where she decided to stay to get her degree. She enjoys traveling, baking, going out with friends and learning about different cultures.

Why did you decide to do a gap year with Green River College Gap Year?

I decided to go to Green River Community College because my agency recommended it to me. I was relatively young, I just turned 17 when I came to the USA, and my agency told me that Green River takes care of students very well. They also offered a host family option, what was very interesting to me to get to know the American culture better.

When I Googled Green River Community College and saw the pictures, I really started to love the school, because it all looked so beautiful! The contact I had with the staff on Green River before I came here felt really good.

What was one of the most memorable days/experiences of the trip?

What I find very memorable is the introduction week for new students. Everything is very organized and the staff and volunteers know the answers on questions very well. We got tours over campus, went to a mall that was closest to school, and we went on a school event to Seattle.

I was sick during the orientation week and there were some people from the staff who were truly concerned about me. I got my own space and they contacted my parents to let them know how my situation was. This gave me immediately a very safe feeling about the school.

One of the introductory activities was CORE, an overnight camp. With this camp I slept one night in a cabin with some other new students. There were nice activities such as paintball and horseback riding. I met a lot of great people there and had a lot of fun.

If you could go back and do something different, what would it be?

If I could go back I would tell myself that homesickness is not necessary. The first 2 months I was really homesick but because of my homesickness, I didn’t enjoy my time at that moment as much as I would have wanted. So I would have fought a bit more against the homesick feeling. To prevent homesickness from happening I would have gone out with friends more often because I’ve learned that doing a lot of things keeps your mind busy and therefore not thinking of home.

I also would have done some more research about the location and habits of different countries from all over the world. That way it would have been much more fun to communicate about other people’s cultures. It can lead to some awkward moments if you don’t know anything about a country or if you are doing something that is accepted in your culture but very rude in other cultures.

Tell me about one person you met.

I’ve met so many people who I would love to talk about. My host parents got to be 2 very important people in my life. They’ve helped me through some hard times with homesickness and they tried to really create a new home for me and the other students living in the house. They’ve showed me lots of places around this area and recommended me many places to visit.

The staff member, Mike, who is responsible for my country, the Netherlands, is really important too. When I heard his marketing title, I thought it was only a person who recruits students to come to their college. This was absolutely not true.

Mike always wanted to make sure that all of the students were having a great time. Whenever I had a problem, I could go to him and ask for help, it was really nice to me to realize that I could always go somewhere if there was something going on.

How has this experience impacted your future?

This experience influenced my life in many different ways. I’ve learned lots of English, but that is not the most important thing I’ve learned. I got to know myself. Being in a different country far away from the trusted area made me realize how small I was. I got to know my own borders of what I want to do and what not.

Because of my involvement in school I got to see that I am capable of doing much more than I expected. I also had to get rid of some stereotypical images I had about different countries, because I found out that the way I thought about people isn’t the way that people really are.

I also know many people from all over the world and got to be close friends with them. There will never be such an opportunity to get this close (friendship) with people from so many different countries.