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New Program Announced: Inaugural Gap Semester Cohort. Learn More!

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Gap Semester Faq?



Who Is UnCollege Gap Year For? 

The students we serve typically come from one of these three basic profiles:

  • they want to explore and focus their interests before committing to a four-year program
  • they are seeking to get unstuck before starting – or restarting – college
  • or they are entrepreneurial, self-motivated, and impatient to get started with their career

The personal qualities that make for a successful fellow in our Gap Year program are a willingness to work hard, the capacity for self-reflection, the ability to contribute to your community, drive, empathy, and adaptability. Does that sound like you? If so, you should apply to be a Gap Year fellow.

Admission at UnCollege is selective, with 50 spots available in each cohort. We work with each applicant during the admissions process the same way we do throughout the rest of the program: highly focused on the individual with support where it’s needed.

Do I have to be heading to college to join?

No! You can be anywhere from 18-23 years old. This can be a pre- or post-college experience, as well as something you do as a year off during college. Some of our fellows do this program and start working full-time afterwards.

Where do people go after Gap Year?

Fellows have followed a variety of paths upon completing their Gap Year. Some go back to college. Some begin a full-time job at a company. We’ve had a fellow write a book, and another start a company. It all depends on what works best for you.

Are there scholarships?

Yes! We offer several different scholarships. Please refer to the program costs page for more information.

What are the additional expenses on top of tuition?

During Voyage Phase additional expenses could include:

  • Roundtrip airfare ($250-$1500 total)
  • Extra food and spending money (up to you, $5-10/day is usually plenty)
  • ‍Side trips throughout the country (up to you).
  • Optional in-country language classes (price varies).

During the Launch Phase additional expenses could include:

  • Food (just a little bit for weekends + some week’s meals)
  • Extra money (fun spending for museums, conferences, taking people to coffee, etc.)

During the Internship Phase additional expenses could include:

  • Room & board
  • Any and all other costs associated with living and working at a location.

International Applicants

If I am selected for an interview, what is the preferred means of communication?

We conduct interviews with our non-U.S. applicants by Skype.

Beyond the cost of tuition, what other expenses do I need to prepare for?

Please refer to the "Costs" page for more information.

Which visa will I need to enter the United States?

A B1-B2 ("visitor") visa is sufficient for entering the U.S. in order to attend the 10-week residential Launch Phase of the program in San Francisco.

Applying for an F-1 student visa is not an option because UnCollege is classified as an “adult recreational educational course” for visa purposes according to the U.S. Department of State and therefore not empowered to issue the Form I-20.

What about a J-1 visa - is that an option?

Only in the very specific circumstance that you already have a previously arranged internship with a company in the U.S. The J-1 ("exchange visitor") visa permits the visa holder to stay longer than 90 days and secure employment as an intern in the United States. UnCollege is not empowered to issue the Form DS-2019 which is a requirement to apply for the J-1 visa.

Can I do the internship in the United States?

Yes, but under the B1-B2 visas you are not allowed to earn money from your work.

Can I do the internship elsewhere besides the United States?

Yes, some of our non-U.S. fellows will exit the United States at the conclusion of the 10-week Launch phase to pursue their internships in another country.

Does UnCollege assist with visa acquisition?

No. We work closely with each fellow to provide support documentation as you apply for the appropriate U.S. visas. However, your ability to enter the U.S. in possession of the necessary valid visa and travel documents is your responsibility.


What is Voyage?

Voyage is the first phase of the UnCollege Gap Year Program. It is an immersive travel and service learning experience where you will live and volunteer in a different country and culture. You will make an impact on a community in need while stepping outside your comfort zone and learning more about yourself.

How long is Voyage?

Voyage is ten weeks long. This will give you enough time to immerse yourself in the culture, explore your new environment, become comfortable with your surroundings, and travel around the country.

Where can I go on Voyage?

You can choose from four international locations: India, Indonesia, Mexico or Tanzania. There is also the option of choosing a domestic Voyage location within the United States.

What will I do on Voyage?

On Voyage, you will volunteer with a local organization for 4-6 hours every day doing work such as teaching English, caring for orphans, building houses, or working in a hospital. You will live in a volunteer house with people who you eat and travel with. You will meet with your coach every 1-2 weeks, and you will be responsible for submitting weekly reflections and completing assignments to make sure you're making the most of your experience as you prepare for Launch.

Who will I be with on Voyage?

There will most likely be several other UnCollege fellows at your location. While you may be working in different volunteer placements, you will be living in the same volunteer house. You may also be living with other volunteers from around the world. You’ll have regular contact with the in-country staff who will help provide support and meals throughout your stay, and they may even live in the volunteer house with you!

Where will I stay?

You will live in a volunteer house with other UnCollege fellows and possibly other volunteers from around the world. Accommodations differ in each country, but typically you will be in a shared room with 1-3 other volunteers. You will have access to communal bathrooms and shared living and hang out space.

Will I have free time? Will I explore the country?

You will have plenty of free time outside of your volunteering hours. Evenings and weekends will usually be completely free for you to explore your surroundings. You’ll also want to set some of your free time aside to complete reflections and assignments from your coach. Get outside, meet new people, discover new places, have fun, be safe, and learn a lot!

What does a typical day look like?

A typical day varies from country to country, but in general, you'll have the following schedule:

Monday - Friday

7:30am -- Wake up and eat breakfast with other volunteers in your house

8:30am -- Travel to your placement and complete your volunteer project; you’ll have a break for tea and lunch onsite with other volunteers

3pm ish -- Come back to the volunteer house; relax, explore, or go to the market

7pm -- Enjoy dinner with other volunteers and house staff

8pm -- Free time to wind down, prep for the next day, and complete reflections and assignments from your coach

Saturday & Sunday

All Day Free time to explore and go on weekend trips

What is included?
  • Volunteer placement with a local organization
  • Accommodation in a shared volunteer house
  • ‍Most meals during the week
  • Ongoing coaching calls with our program specialists
  • Pre-departure travel planning and visa support
  • Airport pick up upon arrival 
  • In-country orientation and safety briefing
  • 24/7 emergency support on the ground
  • International student health insurance
  • Support to facilitate language classes, in-country travel, and extra activities
What is not included?
  • Airfare
  • Visa
  • Some meals during the week
  • Optional language lessons, in-country travel, and extra activities
  • Personal expenditures
How do I choose a country?

Choosing a country is completely up to you! Maybe it’s somewhere you’ve been dying to visit your whole life. Maybe it’s a place you’ve never even considered, but this is your once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to live there. You’ll want to consider things like location, geography, climate, and language. In addition, some volunteer placements are country-specific, so look at the type of volunteer work that is available in each country. Finally, it’s a good idea to check the cost of airfare, visa, and in-country travel (including exchange rates) since you’ll be responsible for paying for these items. To compare locations, download this comparison sheet. And remember, this is your chance to take a risk and challenge yourself by going somewhere completely new!

How do I choose a volunteer placement?

Volunteer placements differ from country to country. If you are looking to do a certain type of work or have a specific skill you want to use, be sure to take that into consideration when choosing which Voyage you want to go on. Otherwise, think about the impact you want to make and the people you want to work with. If you don’t like kids, working in an orphanage or teaching English probably isn’t the right choice. If blood makes you squirmy, you shouldn’t choose to work in a hospital or health care clinic. If you’re artistic, look into empowering arts and crafts workers who make a living selling their handiwork. If you’re passionate about the environment, look into educating communities on sustainability. If you have no idea what you want to do, that’s ok too! No matter what you end up doing, you will have a meaningful impact on a community in need.

Do I need to speak the language?

The goal of Voyage is to challenge yourself and step outside of your comfort zone. Fellows are encouraged to explore a country where they do not know the language, or go somewhere where they can improve on the language skills they already have. Optional language classes are also available in most placements.

Do I need specific skills to complete the volunteer work?

Most volunteer placements don’t require certain skill sets or previous work experience. If specific skills are required, it will be indicated in the description of the volunteer work. If any preparation is required, you will also be briefed before your departure. Other than that, a positive attitude and eagerness to help is all that is required.

What if I don't want to go to any of your locations?

If the locations we offer don't pique your fancy, you can submit a proposal for a custom Voyage. To do so, Fellows should research the country they want to visit, the volunteer work they will do, and the place where they will live. They will need to make a case for how this custom Voyage will expose them to a similar service learning and educational environment as the other Voyage locations. Fellows will be given a budget for a 10-week program and will need to submit a financial plan showing how this money will be used. Fellows will also need to come up with an emergency plan to ensure their safety and security abroad. To submit a proposal for a custom Voyage, download these guidelines.

What interaction will I have with my coach during Voyage?

While on Voyage, you will talk with your coach at least once every two weeks to check in, see how things are going, and make sure you’re staying on track with your goals and tasks. Throughout the ten weeks, your coach will also be giving you written assignments to facilitate reflection on your experience and guide you through the Voyage curriculum. Your coach and the UnCollege staff are there for you from start to finish, and you can reach out to any of them if you have any questions or issues while abroad.

Will I be safe abroad?

International travel always has its risks - just as living anywhere in the world does! That being said, UnCollege does its best to mitigate risk exposure. We include international student travel insurance in our program cost to make sure our students are covered should they experience a medical emergency abroad. We are constituents of OSAC - the United States Department of State’s Overseas Security Advisory Council - and receive daily updates on travel warnings and security alerts from around the world. While on Voyage, fellows will also have 24/7 emergency support from UnCollege staff and partners on the ground.


What is Launch?

Launch is the immersive residential portion of our program that takes place in San Francisco, Ca. Find out all the details on the Launch Page.

How Long is Launch?

Launch is 10 weeks including orientation and our closing events.

What exactly would I do during Launch?

Learn, learn, learn! Every Monday, people meet with their program specialist for one hour. Then, Tuesday through Friday, there are workshops daily from 10am - 12pm.  Friday also features a “week review” time slot for everyone to reflect on what went well, what needs fixing, etc. in their personal projects and in the workshop learnings. Tuesday through Thursday, after the scheduled events and workshop, people work on their own projects (self-created design, hardware, writing, mockups for FB ads, programming, biz dev plans, music album, etc.), learn skills (online learning and working with mentors and coaches), go to events, and conduct informational interviews. On weekends, fellows can explore and soak in SF life (including tours, hackathons, concerts - it’s all up to you!).

What's a typical day look like?

There’s a solid schedule. Noted above, there’s always a workshop and sometimes there are events. There’s also self-directed time to work on other projects, attend networking events and explore your interests.

Where Do I stay during launch?

You will live at the UnCollege dormitory located in the heart of San Francisco.

Do I have to pay for food and accommodation during launch?

Accommodation is included in your tuition. Lunch is provided five days a week at the workspace. Dinners and weekend meals are on you. Breakfast foods such as cereal are also available at the workspace.


What internships are available to me?

It depends on what you want to do. It’s important to note that while UnCollege’s team is going to help you a lot, it’s up to you to follow through on your side of the commitment. This is part of what we preach – self-accountability. You’ll need it in the real world.

Are the internships paid?

Again, it all depends on you, your background, and your interests. We cannot guarantee a paid internship, but many fellows do secure them.

Where are the internships located?

It depends on your interests and the current market demands - interns have been based in San Francisco, New York,  Berlin and other major hubs.


Where is the space? 

Our workspace is located in SOMA, San Francisco. Our address is 44 Tehama St.

Do all of UnCollege's workshops take place at the workspace?

Yes. Occasionally we take field trips to visit companies in the area such as General Assembly, Optimizely or other cool offices in San Francisco to learn from professionals first-hand.

Are lunches served after the workshops? 

Yes! From 12-1 PM the workspace culinary team is dedicated to nourishing creative minds with healthy food made with love. Meals are posted daily on Twitter so you can follow the latest creations from @HatteryKitchen. The chefs also accommodate dietary restrictions and always provide vegetarian and gluten-free options.

What's the workspace like? 

It's a real startup space. Some call it a workspace and studio for entrepreneurs building extraordinary companies that promise to make remarkable impacts on our lives and on the world. The space promotes a culture of innovation, craft, education, and community. You have the opportunity to work close to entrepreneurs, designers, and investors. 

Do I have 24 hour access to the workspace?

Yes, but we do ask that you try to avoid working into the early hours of the morning when the cleaning teams arrive!

Fellow Experience

Who do I live with?

You will live in a dormitory style residence during Launch and share a room with one or Fellows. You will live in these dorms with other fellows in your cohort. Accommodation varies during the Voyage phase based on country and volunteer program. Please refer to Voyage section of the website for more information.

How much free time do I have?

You will meet with your coach for an hour on Monday, attend 2 hour workshops Tuesday through Friday, as well as a 2 hour review session each Friday. Fellows use the rest of the week to work on their goals that they create with their coach. Fellows typically stay very busy during the week and utilize free time on evenings and weekends. They spend time with other fellows, explore the city, and catch up with friends and family.

Do fellows ever hang out with each other?

Yes! Fellows spend time with each other on a regular basis, both hanging out and collaborating on projects Our program also has events and outings designed to build community within the cohort.  

Do I need to be an expert in a particular field to participate?

Not at all. Exploration is one Gap Year fellows’ biggest shared experiences. For some that means coming with a skill like graphic design and exploring how they can apply that in the professional world, for others it means coming with a lot of curiosity and working to figure out what they are excited to pursue.  


What is UnCollege’s curriculum?

UnCollege’s curriculum focuses on three pillars of learning: Curiosity, Creation, and Self-Advocacy. While in our program you will learn to pursue the spark of curiosity and direct your learning to embark on the path to being a subject matter expert. You will adopt a bias towards action, consistently creating and bringing your ideas to life. You will learn to advocate for yourself, gain confidence, and find audiences for your work.

You will learn these skills through daily workshops, weekly coaching meetings, and through applied learning in our work sprints and Launch project.

How is it learned?

We are believers in learning through doing. Everything you learn you’ll put into practice right away. You’ll learn through taking on projects, going to networking events, working on your goals, meeting with mentors, collaborating with other fellows, researching, meeting professionals for coffee, and being challenged by your coach to take on things that are outside your comfort zone.

Who teaches workshops?

Workshops are taught by a mix of UnCollege staff and guest speakers. We have a large network of experts in various areas that come in to lead workshops and engage in speaking events.  In the past, we’ve hosted tech giants to a former Miss America winner to a college dean.

What methods are used to teach?

We make sure that all workshops include a range of different kinds of learning - discussion, lecture, activities, and practice. We always favor active learning.


What is an UnCollege Coach?

You will have a dedicated coach for each phase of your Gap Year. Your coach helps you set goals, holds you accountable, and provides a soundboard for you throughout the program. Coaches are both an advocate for you as a fellow and are the one who helps keeps you accountable. Your coach is the person you work closest with in your Gap Year.

How long does coaching last?

Coaching lasts throughout a fellow’s entire time in the program.  While in the voyage and internship phases coaches and fellows talk every other week for 30min.  During the launch phase fellows have an hour long session every week.

How do coaches help fellows set goals?

At it’s core UnCollege is a self-directed learning program, therefore fellows are encouraged and expected to take an active role throughout their program.  Goal setting is no different, within coaching sessions. Goal setting is a collaborative effort.  Coaches and fellows come up with goals together that will push the fellow forward in their work for that week.

When are coaches available during Launch Phase?

Along with dedicated one-on-one time during coaching sessions, there is ample opportunity to meet with coaches.  Coaches regularly spend time in the UnCollege workspace, and are always available for a meeting.

How are coaches chosen?

Being an UnCollege Coach is a highly sought after position.  We choose coaches who:

have been successful in their own right before UnCollege have experience coaching/training/mentoring have experience in self-directed learning have education experience are dynamic, engaging people who can lead, collaborate, and bring out the best in people.

Each coach is expected to be both well rounded and also able to bring something unique to the fellows.  Because of this each coach is integral to the team and the program.  

What happens in coaching?

Coaches always check in with you to see how you’re doing and are here to support your success.  You will leave each session with 24 hour goals, 48 hour goals, and week long goals.  Fellows need to stay above 75% every week to be in good standing within the program.  What sets us apart is that you get to choose the goals along with your coach.  They can be geared towards: writing, fashion, entrepreneurship, programming, art, etc.  Therefore, our fellows average a completion percentage much higher than 75% because their goals are focused around areas of their interest.  

Coaching meetings are the backbone of the gap year. They set the agenda for the week and the year. During coaching meetings you will discuss taking on projects, learning about the things you are excited about, developing new skills, building good work habits, exploring different fields, advocating for yourself, and from these discussions you will define your goals for the week. Your coach is here to help you break down your goals into actionable chunks, keep you accountable, offer perspective on where to apply yourself, connect you with resources within the Gap Year network, and guide you through the process of learning to be self-directed.

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