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Gap Year

Semesters after high school

A gap year is anything but a year off. Deciding to defer university for a semester or a year is often the most important educational decision a student makes, and is supported by top universities. Gap years are formative experiences that encourage personal growth while helping students determine how they want to spend the next four years and beyond.

At Rustic Pathways we have two types of gap year programs:

Our Rustic Gap Year Semesters are more traditional gap year travel programs, focusing on community service and adventure travel. Students spend a semester exploring a region of the world (Latin America, South East Asia, or the South Pacific), experiencing the best of what the region has to offer.

Our Verto Education University Credit Semesters offer students the opportunity to earn university credit during an immersive and educational gap year before continuing their education on campus. The Verto Education programs also include being accepted to one of Verto’s partner universities.

Rustic Gap Year Semesters

Golden Lands and World Heritage

From remote villages to modern cities and sacred ruins to tropical islands, this semester traces a spectacular route through Southeast Asia’s celebrated sites and best-kept secrets. While exploring history, encountering traditional cultures, living like a local, and contributing to community-driven service projects, you’ll gain a profound understanding of the region.

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Spanish Immersion: From Havana to Machu Picchu

Discover the stunning natural wonders, friendly people, and rich cultures of Latin America while studying Spanish and participating in meaningful community service projects. Learn about indigenous cultures and engage with locals through service projects and homestays in three different regions: Central America, the Andes, and the Caribbean. Whether you’re a first time Spanish language learner or nearly fluent, practicing Spanish in places with varying accents and dialects will give your skills a major boost.

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South Pacific Service and Ocean Skills

Surround yourself with sun, sand, and surf as you travel to the far reaches of the South Pacific. Visit Fiji, New Zealand, and Australia on this marine- focused, high-energy semester. In Fiji, splash in waterfalls, soak in the laid-back island life, and live with a homestay family in the rural highlands. Venture through New Zealand, and find incredible adventures at every turn. Spot dolphins and penguins and marvel at breathtaking landscapes. In Australia, learn how to surf and scuba dive, and earn certificates in Wilderness First Aid and surf life saving.

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Verto Education University Credit Semesters

South Pacific Semester: Fiji, New Zealand, and Australia

Explore the relationship between humans, ecosystems, and societies. Examine the interaction between organisms and their environment, learn about species conservation and management, and explore the complex elements that define society and culture.

Spend thirteen weeks abroad, including seven weeks in Fiji, two weeks in New Zealand, and four weeks in Australia.

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Latin America Semester: The Dominican Republic and Costa Rica

Explore international development work and systems of public health in Central America. Spend thirteen weeks abroad, including seven weeks in the Dominican Republic and six weeks in Costa Rica.

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Costa Rica Semester: Spanish Immersion

Explore relevant issues in environmental studies, sustainability, and ecology. Through seminars, case studies, fieldwork, and homestays, discover the impact of human action on the environment and ecosystems.

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Southeast Asia: Thailand, Laos, and China

Develop an understanding of relevant issues in international business, global corporate ethics, international financial systems, and international development. This semester explores these topics through a combination of fieldwork, case studies, and seminars.

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Gap Year Scholarships

We offer scholarships to outstanding students from all over the world who demonstrate commitment to success on our gap year programs. These scholarships are awarded to qualified students based on a combination of merit and financial need. They may cover up to 100 percent of the program cost of a gap semester. Visit https://rusticpathways.com/gap-year/scholarships/gap-year-grant/ for more information.

Cass Salazar
“My Gap Year was life changing and truly unforgettable. I learnt so many invaluable life lessons while having a tremendous amount of fun and experiencing once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. I am forever grateful that I was able to learn the difference between travelling as a tourist and immersing myself in the real culture of the country. I am going to take this perspective with me throughout all my travels in the future so I can truly understand the lives of others, particularly by embracing the community vibes and incorporating the lifestyles and values I learn into my own life. The leaders were sincerely genuine and got me excited for the future by inspiring and supporting me. If I had not gone on this trip I would not be where I am today, with a fresh new outlook on life and a hunger to discover more. I will be forever appreciative of my unique journey and will reminisce year after year.”

Cass Salazar
Rustic Pathways Gap Year Student
Tom Steinemann
“After traveling with Rustic, I’m convinced that seeing new parts of the world, meeting new people, and immersing oneself in new cultures is a unique and highly valuable sort of education, maybe the best there is. I saw eight countries in six months and learned that there is no better way of getting to know a culture than by talking to locals – be it in a fancy cafe in the capital or in a little village with a farmer in his field. The people traveling with me and the relationships I formed were really important – so was an open-minded attitude towards new experiences and people. Sharing emotions with them and being open about everything was a great experience that helped me mature and grow. My new friends helped me through hard times and made the good ones even better. It sounds like a cliché but it really held true: on day one we were a group of strangers, and in the end we called ourselves ‘la familia.’”

Tom Steinemann
Rustic Pathways Gap Year Student