A gap year with NOLS offers opportunities to develop leadership skills, gain global perspective, explore the wilderness, and learn from the best. Explore our worldwide campuses in East Africa, India, Patagonia, and Mexico in addition to various locations throughout the U.S. If your passion is wilderness medicine, service, or backpacking, come see what NOLS has to offer for your gap year plans.
Take time for your future on a NOLS gap year. NOLS created the original wilderness semester and we continue to lead the way - just like our graduates. On any semester or year course, learn multiple outdoor skills and gain in-depth leadership skills through an extensive hands-on progression guided by your instructors.
We prepare students for school, teamwork and life through a proven curriculum. Using an extensive hands-on approach, NOLS instructors teach expedition skills such as rock climbing, backpacking, sea kayaking, mountaineering, and wilderness medicine, paired with experiential learning in leadership and decision-making. Choose from a classic 30-day wilderness expedition or an immersive semester.
Whereever in the world you travel with NOLS, you will emerge with confidence, competence, direction, courage and perspective.
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One thing’s for sure, I would not have been the same person if I had just gone to college after high school. As a college student now I realize just how sweet the whole NOLS experience was. I personally think if everyone took a NOLS trip sometime after high school, the world would be a better place.
Away from technology, social norms, and societal restrictions I felt free, and excited for life at all times. That is a feeling that I will never forget and one that I will continue to strive for throughout my life… I truly believe that my NOLS course was the turning point in my life, and I emerged from it a better person in every way.
A NOLS course provides an excellent transition from high school to university because it is a generous gift of time and adventure to reflect on where you have been, who you are, and who you would like to become. Its challenges require personal growth, especially in teamwork and other interpersonal skills. It requires students to disconnect from their digital world for an extended period, providing space for them to come to know and appreciate our national world.
Parents have concerns about their children going off to college, and having an intermediate step for kids is a good thing… They are better prepared for adversity and challenges in life because they’ve experienced adversity and challenges at NOLS.
Away from technology, social norms, and societal restrictions I felt free, and excited for life at all times. That is a feeling that I will never forget and one that I will continue to strive for throughout my life… I truly believe that my NOLS course was the turning point in my life, and I emerged from it a better person in every way
Life will keep showing me new challenges and testing my values, my strength, my focus. NOLS reminded me that most of what I need already exists within me, if I can get out of my own way to let it be free.