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Young Adult Programs and Gap Year Programs

YFU offers young adult programs -  gap year programs, volunteer/service learning programs, internship programs to help you to gain a great understanding of another culture.

Whether you’re a recent graduate, have deferred college admissions, or are deciding what’s next, YFU’s young adult programs will help you to gain a greater understanding of another culture while experiencing another part of the world. 

As a YFU participant, you'll embark on an adventure, which will allow you to, appreciate the nuances of a foreign language, develop new skills, and test your confidence in new situations. Each program’s length varies however you will discover that your journey abroad will have a powerful, life-changing impact. Study abroad with YFU to develop an understanding of a faraway place, and an understanding of an inner place.

A gap year is known as “time off,” “time out” or “year out” between stages of life to undertake activities such as study abroad, travel or volunteering. Whether you’ve just graduated, deferred college admissions or are deciding what’s next, you can use your gap year with YFU to gain a greater understanding of another culture. In the process, you’ll discover the real you and experience the world.

+ Explore YFU’s Gap Programs

Study abroad with YFU! Live with a host family, attend a college and/or participate in volunteer programs for your gap year. It is the perfect adventure for a young adult ready to make a difference in today’s world. Some programs are offered to students up to the age of 22.

Learn more about all YFU gap programs, or programs with specialty gap options that include university study, volunteer projects or an arts focus.

Many prestigious universities including Harvard encourage the concept of a Gap year. A Gap year/semester experience can help a student focus their studies and be ready to take on the challenges of a university life.

“For over thirty years, Harvard has recommended this option (taking time off), indeed proposing it in the letter of admission. Harvard's overall graduation rate of 98% is among the highest in the nation, perhaps in part because so many students take time off.”
Time Out or Burn Out for the Next Generation
By William Fitzsimmons, Marlyn McGrath Lewis, Charles Ducey – Harvard Admissions

Many colleges and universities encourage applications from YFU alumni.

"I went on exchange between High School and University. An in between year, to discover sides of yourself that you've been ignoring and to learn to accept a new culture and respect its 'other' ways of doing things, provides an excellent foundation for further exploration within the academic framework. And there's no better way to get to know another culture than living with a host family."
Flannery Denny – Germany

+ Gap Resources

Some countries may need additional information in order to accept gap year students and there may be limitations on program space -- please contact an Admissions Counselor at 1.800. 833.6243 to discuss your application.

Experience a new culture, expand your circle of friends, and develop language skills while giving back and making an impact by participating in one of YFU’s service learning/volunteer programs in Ecuador, India, Paraguay, South Africa, or Thailand!

These programs offer the perfect adventure for young adults who are specifically looking for learning opportunities abroad and are ready to make a difference in today’s world!

+ Ecuador Summer Social Work Program

Studying abroad in Ecuador offers students the unique opportunity to both attend a local Ecuadorian high school and volunteer during your school breaks! In June, students placed in the highlands (Sierra region) will have the option to do volunteer work or continue attending school for one month. In January or February, students placed in the coastal areas (Litoral region) will be required to do one month of volunteer work during their school break. Students have had the opportunity to volunteer in a wide variety of Ecuadorian organizations in order to learn more about the country and help give back to their host communities.

+ India Year + Volunteer

Travel to India, where you'll attend school for most of your exchange year, and then participate in a community service project for the last month of your experience! Projects may include but are not limited to working in an orphanage, teaching, working with the elderly, or working with people with mental disabilities. On this program, students continue to live with their host families throughout the year, but instead of attending school in the last month, they volunteer for several hours each day.

+ Volunteer in: Paraguay, South Africa or Thailand

Students in Paraguay have the opportunity to live with a host family while also partnering with a local nonprofit to assist in community service efforts such as social work, education, childhood and adolescence, biology, and health. Students are encouraged to state their area of volunteering interest in their application.

Become a volunteer in one of the world's most beautiful countries - South Africa. Design your own volunteer program and select from one of several local non-profit organizations in the following fields: wildlife preservation, childcare, and health education. There truly is something for everyone who is willing to give their time, energy, and love to others in need! Program lasts 3-6 months with flexible start dates.

You’re bound to find the perfect volunteer opportunity in Thailand! You will be able to select within your application which types of community service you are most interested in, and a few potential worksites will be provided. Possible volunteer placements may include teaching English, working with disabled children, and other types of community service for local residents. You will also have the opportunity to participate in a 30-hour Thai language course, arranged by a YFU volunteer, during your stay in Thailand.