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    The High Desert Center


    • Listing Type: Gap Year Programs
    • Destinations: Mexico, United States, Guatemala
    • Program Delivery: Residential
    • Credit Awarded: None
    • Program Length: Academic Year
    • Start Month: September
    • Category: Outdoor Adventure
    • Selective: Yes
    • Gender: Coed
    • Ages: 17, 18, 19+, 19
    • Housing: Cabins, Homestay, Tents
    • Application Fee: $50
    • Financial Aid: Not Available, Work Study
    • Minimum Cost: $5,000 - $9,999
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    This nine months of action-packed learning is designed for adverture-seeking folks between the agesof 17 and 23. The The High Desert Center Gap Year is an affordable program for young adults who are looking for adventure, practical experience, community and a sense of purpose.

    The High Desert Center is homespun and informal.  We inspire rather than coerce.   We dumpster dive and challenge you to be real.  We get dirty. We think big.  We teach the skills that change your life, like how to make everyday life an adventure, how to take care of yourself, how to make a difference, how to connect.  

    Our participants don’t want to sign up for a program; they want to create the program.  They don’t want rules; they want choices and opportunities.

    How do you want to lead your life?  

    The High Desert Center specializes in helping you figure that out and begin doing it.  


    Reviews (4)

    • Consider this program if you're looking for a big change!
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      Reviewed on 22/10/2017 by vonmilla

      Living among a group of people for a year is an experience unmatched, and taught me so much about myself and my interactions with others. The staff encouraged me to leave my comfort zone behind and strive to find the parts of life that truly inspired me. I left with the skills and experiences necessary to be a happy and confident member of the world and for that I will always be grateful. I got really inspired about partner dance, made a lot of connections, and these days I'm getting job offers to teach my passion.

    • Transformative Year
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      Reviewed on 30/10/2017 by Hero KB

      My gap year at the High Desert Center was easily one of the most transformative, rich, and important experiences I’ve ever had. That year spent in the red canyons and tall mountains and juniper forests and small farms of Southwest Colorado brought me more growth, learning, joy and challenge than I ever imagined.

      Creating a strong, intentional community with the other participants and staff was a challenging and incredibly rewarding experience. The staff at the High Desert Center were inspiring, knowledgable and kind adults who strove to create an environment that fostered growth, community, and connection. They were there to guide us through the challenges of living in community, and I learned so much about myself and how I interact and communicate with other people.We built something really incredible together. I didn’t know it was possible to feel such a sense of belonging and purpose and empowerment in a community. I didn't think I’d ever feel so at home and so much like myself.

      Having the opportunity to live and learn at the High Desert Center taught me so many useful, practical skills, but the most important thing I learned is that I have a place in this world that is important, and I have the power to affect my community and my life. I am so much more empowered and confident than I was. I know that I can go out into the world and create the beautiful and meaningful life that I want for myself.

    • When I first arrived at...
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      Reviewed on 21/10/2017 by Cori

      When I first arrived at the High Desert Center I could never have imagined how much I would grow to love and value all those unfamiliar faces I met in the airport. I wouldn’t have even dreamed of all the laugh-till-you-can’t-breathe moments, the sense of support and excitement every time we accomplished something together, and the tears both of sadness and of joy we would all share. If someone had told me on that first day the sense of achievement I would gain from summiting the peaks towering off in the distance, or the warm fuzzy feeling I would get every time I saw my community all together whether for a meeting or a meal, or how I would look back on who I was then and not feel embarrassed but rather proud of how hard I worked to be who I am now, I would have said “No, that’s impossible.” With the subtle, rock-solid support of the incredible staff, and the love and lessons I received from my peers, I was able to grow into the empowered, inspired, and capable person I am now. The community we built was what made my Gap Year experience what it was—challenging, fulfilling, joyful, and real. I recommend this Gap Year to any young person with the desire to build strong relationships, grow as a person, and be themselves.

    • HDC 2014-15 Southwestern Gap Year
      stars stars stars stars stars
      Reviewed on 21/10/2017 by Rae

      I was tired of going to college - being surrounded by students who didn't want to be there, professors who didn't want to either, and I decided to be done with it. Soon after that I found out about the HDC gap year, and after reading everything I could on the website, I got so excited about going. It seemed to provide the community and meaning that I felt I was missing in my life. And it turned out to be true. My group had it's challenges, but we became a second family because of it. It became difficult to make decisions when everyone wanted something different, but after a lot of trial and error we started to get the hang of consensus. Even when things were hard, I always felt like I had support and love from everyone. I realized while I was there that I always want to live in a large group. While on the program I got the support to go out and try new things, from traveling on my own with little budget and the faintest outline of a plan, to backpacking the canyons of the southwest. I love this place and these people so much and I just keep coming back. I'm forever grateful for the friends I've made here, and the experiences I've had. I think it's even safe to say the High Desert Center has made a bigger impact on my life, than anything else I've ever been a part of.