Gap Year Radio
Ep. 401 #ExploretheGapYear During Gap Year Exploration Month!

Ep. 401 #ExploretheGapYear During Gap Year Exploration Month!



Did you know that February is Gap Year Exploration Month? There are so many fun ways to explore the opportunities of the gap year option this month. This episode, we chat all about Gap Year Exploration Month events happening every day this month!


USA Gap Year Fairs

The USA Gap Year Fairs travel across the country to educate, inspire, and empower students to look beyond the classroom and pursue opportunities for experiential learning.  Check the schedule to find a fair near you this month!

Streamable U Livestream Events

Streamable U will be hosting over 30 webinars focusing on various topics about gap years, and presented by both GYA member counselors and program providers. Livestream registration and attendance is free and open to any school district / school personnel, students and families.

We are grateful to Streamable U for partnering with us to make Gap Year Exploration Month robust with informational opportunities for educators, students, and their families. Check out the calendar here.

Social Media Events & Additional Online Events

Julia is hosting a Zoom webinar on Feb 13 about planning a low-cost gap year

Check out the Gap Year Exploration Month calendar here for in person and online events throughout February!

Contests & Giveaways

Win a copy of the new edition of The Complete Guide to the Gap Year by Kristin White from Gap Year Radio!

How to enter:

  1. Follow @gapyearradio on instagram
  2. Comment on a contest post with #explorethegapyear

Gap Year Association $500 Instagram Contest

Make a video about your upcoming gap time (if a future gapper) or your gap year experience (if you’re an alum) for a chance to win $500!

Follow @gapyearassociation on instagram and see below for full details!

USA Gap Year Fairs $3000 Ambassador Scholarship

Tell themwhy and you could win a scholarship to make those dreams become a reality! We’ll grant two scholarships to students who demonstrate outstanding motivation to pursue gap year experiences. Apply here.

Deadline: April 30, 2020, Value$3,000

$3000 Travel Access Project Grants

Travel Access Project is awarding as many as TEN $3000 grants for Gap Year travel during the 2020-21 academic year.

ANYONE CAN APPLY! No restrictions on age, or citizenship. We’ve awarded grants to people all over the world!

Each TAP Grant awarded includes:

  • $3000 USD to be used towards travel or educational costs associated with your Gap Year
  • Student membership in the Gap Year Association
  • Support from  Sean, Jenn for TAP Grant Recipients to celebrate and advance your Gap Year plans
  • Setout travel backpack, this is a full sized carry on bag from Tortuga Backpacks, we think it’s the perfect piece of luggage for your gap year!
  • GRAYL GEOPRESS, a large capacity filtering bottle that lets you drink the water, anywhere.
  • Access to special discounts from partner organizations, including Tortuga BackpacksEn Route Consulting, and BootsnAll.

Additional Scholarships

Find additional gap year contests and scholarships on the Gap Year Association financial aid page and keep in mind most gap year programs offer in-house scholarships and financial aid!

Ep. 307 Charlie Taibi of Year On

Ep. 307 Charlie Taibi of Year On

Joining us on the pod is Charlie Taibi, CEO of the gap year program Year On, a three part program that helps students gain the confidence, clarity, and direction they need to succeed in college and beyond. Charlie discusses with us the core principles of the Year On program, how he got to where he is today, and inspires us with his recent working sabbatical. Charlie has big ideas for the future of the gap year and shares his wisdom and dreams with the listeners of the pod.


You can find Charlie and the folks over at Year On by visiting their website at, or you can find them on Facebook and Instagram @year.on. 

Ep. 306 Rough Magic Author Lara Prior Palmer on Horse Racing in Mongolia, Writing a Memoir and Being Brave

Ep. 306 Rough Magic Author Lara Prior Palmer on Horse Racing in Mongolia, Writing a Memoir and Being Brave

Credit: Richard Dunwoody




Today we welcome bestselling author Lara Prior Palmer to talk about the gap year that inspired her book, Rough Magic. At the age of nineteen, Lara Prior-Palmer discovered a website devoted to “the world’s longest, toughest horse race”―an annual competition of endurance and skill that involves dozens of riders racing a series of twenty-five wild ponies across 1,000 kilometers of Mongolian grassland. Lara ultimately became the youngest and first-ever woman to win the race. Margo, Julia and Lara discuss the entirety of Lara’s gap year, what it was like competing as a woman and why she thinks all young people should consider the magical uncertainty of gap time.

***Contest Alert*** We are giving away a copy of Rough Magic!

We are running the contest through Monday, December 16th so the winner will get their copy just in time for the holidays. 


Follow @gapyearradio on instagram and tag someone you want to travel with too. If you already follow us, tag two people you want to travel with and/or who you think should take a gap year. 

Winner will be announced December 17th! 

Credit: Richard Dunwoody

“Think the next Educated or Wild. Palmer’s memoir of beating the odds to become a horse champion is an inspiring saga of perseverance―and a classic underdog tale.” ―Entertainment Weekly

Here are some other reviews of Rough Magic:

The New York Times

The Guardian

The Washington Post


Credit: Richard Dunwoody

Think about ways to tell your gap year story!

Voices Project Live! – Gap Year alum Ambar Khawaja


Writing piece for online outlets or papers about your experiences

Video projects/VLOGs

As Lara says, “If you have any inclination for expressing yourself in words, you just have to write, write, write.”

Ep. 305 Marco Marsans on Service Learning, Refugee Resettlement and Private Equity

Ep. 305 Marco Marsans on Service Learning, Refugee Resettlement and Private Equity


Marco Marsans spent his gap year on four continents, expanding his understanding of himself as well as the mechanisms that make the global economy run. Marco learned that by understanding the functions of micro and macro economies, he can affect positive change in the world. In his captivating interview, Marco details how traveling in Asia, working with refugees in Costa Rica and interning at a private equity firm in Amsterdam informed his thinking on how to dismantle global inequities. 

Marco divided his gap year into trimesters :

  1. Youth International Asia (personal growth)
  2. Interning in Costa Rica with CIME, working with refugees and asylum seekers (using private capital and entrepreneurship for societal good)
  3. Interning in Europe with a private equity firm in Amsterdam
  4. He worked with Jane Sarouhan, gap year counselor, to formulate his gap year plans

How can you help refugees on your gap year?

  1. Visit Omprakash to find grassroots opportunities in migration and refugee services abroad.
  2. Find your local refugee resettlement office, where you can volunteer to help welcome New Americans and provide resettlement services and orientation.
  3. Search Idealist for opportunities with non-profits that provide services to refugees or New Americans.
  4. More mature volunteers who want to help in Europe can take at look at this google doc for info about working in Greece.
Ep. 304 Emma Hulme on Conserving the American West with American Conservation Experience

Ep. 304 Emma Hulme on Conserving the American West with American Conservation Experience



Joining us on the pod is Emma Hulme, who spent her post-college gap time with the American Conservation Experience (or ACE), a branch of Americorps that coordinates and trains volunteers to undertake practical environmental restoration projects in America’s national parks, forests, wildlife refuges and other public lands.

Emma tells us about how her three month stint with ACE turned into nearly a year of service in various parts of the west, and led her to her current adventures abroad and taking the leap to push outside of her comfort zone.


Interested in finding out more about ACE? Check out their video and read more about how to join a team on their website here.

EP. 303 Gap Years x College Admissions

EP. 303 Gap Years x College Admissions



Ever wonder what colleges think about the gap year option? This episode we are joined by Skyler Adams, Assistant Director of Undergraduate Admissions at Northwestern University. Skyler tells about the gap year from the admissions perspective and how to think about a gap year as it relates to applying for college. We also discuss the ideal deferral plan, how deferring can impact financial aid and why a gap year won’t help get you into college.  


Show Notes:

Tips for thinking about planning your gap year while applying to college:  
  1. Create list of deferral-friendly schools (check school websites, the GYA list or ask admissions)
  2. Don’t boast about your gap year intentions during the application process.
  3. Best practice for gap year before college is to apply senior year and defer admission from your school of choice. Deferring = asking the college to save your spot for a year while you take an intentional gap year.
  4. Financial aid: some aid may defer, some you will have to reapply for.

How to defer admission:

  1. Every school has a unique policy, so call admissions for your future school and ask about it.
  2. Most schools will want you to put down a deposit and write a letter of deferment to explain why you want to take gap time and what you plan to do with it.
  3. Here is a guide to writing a deferral letter.
  4. If you want to gain college credit during your gap time, make sure that’s allowed. Some schools will let you gain a little while others will say, “no way.”
  5. Be ethical: if you plan to apply to new schools during your gap year, relinquish your admission commitment first.
  6. Stay in touch with your school during your gap time if that’s a requirement.  
Ep. 302 Dividing Up Your Gap Year with Mackenzie Burke

Ep. 302 Dividing Up Your Gap Year with Mackenzie Burke

Rainbow Mountain in Peru

This episode you are going to hear from Mackenzie Burke, a gap year alumni who participated in three distinct program during her gap time. She chats about the various passions and interests these three segments served for her, from the plains of East Africa, to researching life under the sea in Timor-Leste, to living on her own in Cusco Peru. Additionally she shares with us a bit more about the independence progression that she intentionally set up for herself during this year.

Scuba Diving in Timor-Leste

Show Notes:

The Three Sections of Mackenzie’s Gap Year

Public Health Project in Tanzania at Meserani Snake Bite Clinic
Ep. 301 Gap Year Entrepreneurs Kris, Anika and Cecilia

Ep. 301 Gap Year Entrepreneurs Kris, Anika and Cecilia



Welcome to Season Three of Gap Year Radio! We are excited to bring you a brand new season of exciting interviews. Our premiere episode features three entrepreneurs who launched successful social ventures as a result of their gap year experiences. You’ll hear from Kris Cody of PAKA Apparel, Anika Funk of Banana Backpacks and Cecilia Polanco of So Good Pupusas. Although these three stories are unique to each of their personal journeys, they share a common thread of their gap time influencing their worldviews, and eventually, their enterprising career paths. As Kris says,” Taking a gap year in of itself is an entrepreneurial act.” Note to listeners: Read the show notes for exclusive discount codes for PAKA and Banana Backpacks!

Show Notes:

Kris Cody of PAKA Apparel

What he did on his gap year: Workaway in Italy, Senda Verde Wildlife Sanctuary in Bolivia, backpacking through South America.

Rens Shoes made from recycled coffee beans

Read here for more on the PAKA brand ambassador program

PAKA’s new sweater drops October 1st! Use Coupon Code GAPYEAR for 20% off their online store. Thank you Kris!!!

Anika Funk of Banana Backpacks

What she did on her gap year: Backpacked though India, Nepal and Southeast Asia.

An organization she recommends you get to know: Friends International, Cambodia

Read about the Banana Backpacks social mission here.

Banana Backpacks has a new line out! Check out the Kiri pack in addition to their flagship Khmer line. Use Coupon Code GAPYEAR for a discount in the Banana Backpacks online store!

Cecilia Polanco of So Good Pupusas

What she did on her gap year: Secured a UNC Global Gap Fellowship and traveled to Europe (wwoofed and traveled in Italy) au paired in Australia and kayaked in Alaska with NOLS.

Her starting point for gap year planning: Love of pizza (which led her to Italy)

Read here about the great work of Pupusas for Education, which is now supporting undocumented students to take a gap year through a special grant, in additional to their traditional college scholarships.

Read more about the Travel Access Project, which co-sponsors the Pupusas for Education gap year grants.

Ep. 208 Gap Year Preparation with Professional Gap Year Counselors Jason, Marion and Susan

Ep. 208 Gap Year Preparation with Professional Gap Year Counselors Jason, Marion and Susan

How does one prepare for a transformative experience like a gap year? To close out our second season of Gap Year Radio, we invited three professional gap year counselors; Jason Sarouhan of the Center for Interim Programs, Marion Taylor of Taylor the Gap and Susan Staley of Free to Roam Adventures, to discuss what they think are the most important ways to prepare for a gap year. We’ll cover mental and physical preparation as well as tips for staying safe on your gap time.

Jason’s Advice: Set Intentions

As an ultra-marathoner, Jason knows what it means to mentally prepare for a big event. Jason recommends that all gap year students think critically about their intentions ahead of beginning their gap time. This means thinking deeply about what you want out of your gap year and reflecting on experiences as they are happening, as well as afterwards. Increasing mindfulness around your gap time will make it more meaningful.

How to do this? Journal, scrapbook, vlog or find ways to engage in reflective practice throughout their gap time. Assess and create new goals as needed.

Marion’s Advice: Five Safety Tips for Gap Time

  1. Register for STEP, the State Department’s system for communicating with US citizens abroad.
  2. Be mindful of your food and water consumption. She recommends getting a steripen!
  3. Read reviews for programs and workstays.
  4. Understand what kind of travel insurance you need. Make sure the coverage meets your needs for adventure sports! Mental health insurance is also available.
  5. Arrange for airport pickup when you arrive in a new place – when you are exhausted and disoriented this is the safest way to get to your lodging.

Marion also recommends planning for emergencies with your parents so you have a game plan if something unexpected happens. Grab a Vagaband bracelet, which will list your emergency information right on your wrist.

Susan’s Advice: Physically Preparing for Gap Time

Much of what we do in the months leading up to our travels can impact our time abroad. Susan recommends the following tips for getting ready in the months leading up to leaving home:

  1. Walk every day or otherwise stay active – gap time is often physically active (even if you don’t anticipate it ahead of time) and getting in shape will help you adjust to your lifestyle.
  2. Understand your process for self-care: yoga, journaling, listening to music etc. If you need to check out while with others, this will help you recharge.
  3. Make an appointment to get your vaccinations and travel meds.
  4. Pack light and follow your program’s packing list.

Susan’s Top Gear Recommendations:

Reusable water bottle

Portable charger

Bamboo cutlery

Thanks for an amazing second season of Gap Year Radio, listeners! We are always available online and at gapyearradio (at) to answer your gap year questions. Have a great summer!

Ep. 207 Jacqueline Contino on A Wildlife Focused Gap Year in South Africa

Ep. 207 Jacqueline Contino on A Wildlife Focused Gap Year in South Africa

Joining Margo on the pod is Jacqueline Contino, who spent a life-changing post-undergraduate gap year in South Africa through the program Oyster Worldwide. After studying a pre-veterinary track in college, she ended up participating in two separate programs in South Africa during her gap time, first studying wildlife veterinary medicine. It was during this first stint in the country where she discovered that maybe there was a different path calling to her, and she was able to return to the same place in South Africa to pursue her now dreams of becoming a park ranger.

Jacqueline traveled with Oyster Worldwide, which provides volunteer placements all over the world. They have a number of conservation and wildlife projects to choose from in Latin America, Africa, Asia and Europe.

Out surveying wildlife on a Game Ranger course