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Tolerance for Uncertainty & Adversity

By Carolyn Highland on 2/22/17 10:31 AM

It was four in the morning, it was sideways sleeting, and the tent pole cup was broken. I stood huddled in my rain gear, aiming my headlamp down at my tentmate and my instructor, who were lying sideways on the icy snow, trying to speedy-stitch the stirrup back to the tent body before they lost all dexterity in their hands.

It was four in the morning and I was supposed to be snuggled up in my sleeping bag inside the tent, but instead I was outside getting pelted with rain on the side of a snowy mountain, the blackness around me increasing the sense of being in the absolute middle of nowhere.

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Topics: Semester, NOLS New Zealand, Live the Dream, Gap Year

The Big Picture: How I Found My Grit on a Semester in Baja

By Sarah Buer on 1/25/17 8:20 AM

Tell us a little about your NOLS course.

Three years ago as part of a gap year, I took part in a semester-long, eighty day NOLS course in Baja California.

This course consisted of fifteen students and four highly-trained instructors embarking on a 100-mile hike from San Juanico to Mulegé, a 120-nautical mile sail on the Sea of Cortez from Loreto to just about south of Puerto Agua Verde, and ending with a 250-mile sea kayaking journey from Puerto Agua Verde to a town called Tecalote. (I also received sixteen college credits for my course, ranging from wilderness first aid to Leave No Trace principles!)

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Topics: Semester, Baja, sea kayak, Baja Sea Kayaking, Live the Dream, NOLS semester, Gap Year, education, backcountry, NOLS Wilderness Medicine

Just Go for It: Making Gap Year a Reality

By Bailey Barnes on 11/21/16 1:13 PM

We caught up with Fall Semester in the Rockies grad Bailey Barnes to learn more about the challenges—and fun—of a gap year, and the work and planning it took to make her gap year a reality.

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Topics: Live the Dream, Gap Year

Pursuing a Passion: Choosing an Outdoor Gap Year

By Eugene Buchanan on 10/26/16 12:33 PM
Gap year parent Eugene Buchanan writes about his daughter's surprising decision to take a gap year.

The NOLS Decision

“You what?” I asked my 17-year-old daughter, Brooke.

“I’m going to graduate early, a semester, my senior year. I want that to be my gap semester. I want to do a NOLS course.”

Accepting the independence of a teenage daughter is hard enough; seeing it come at the sake of a promising soccer career—one making you a doting soccer parent for over a decade—was perhaps even harder.

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Topics: Behind the Scenes, Gap Year

5 Gap Year Tips from the Wilderness

By Molly Herber on 10/13/16 8:55 AM

Sometimes, school gets to start with a little adventure.

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Topics: Gap Year

Any Year Can Be a Gap Year

By Shelby Cranshaw on 9/9/16 6:49 AM

I am not entirely sure what I meant when I claimed to “hate nature” for the majority of my life.

But I said it. Often. My dad used to bribe me up mountains with M&Ms every 100 steps. He threatened to send me on NOLS courses during my high school summers when I complained of boredom.

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Topics: Alumni, NOLS Patagonia, Semester, wilderness medicine, adventure, Live the Dream, Gap Year, education

Reasons to Take a Longer Trip

By Shelby Cranshaw on 7/12/16 1:47 PM

Spending an extended period of time in the backcountry can seem challenging even to the most experienced of wilderness travelers, but you can learn a lot of humorous and valuable lessons when you're removed from civilization for a long time.

Here are few reasons why you should go into the wild for more time than you think.

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Topics: Behind the Scenes, cooking, adventure, Gap Year, education

Where Should You Take Your Gap Year? [Quiz]

By NOLS Blog on 3/21/16 8:40 AM

You’re ready to spend some time exploring before heading to college—but where should you go?

Take the quiz and find out!

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Topics: Behind the Scenes, adventure, Gap Year, education, quiz

How to Plan for Your Gap Year

By Molly Herber on 2/26/16 2:45 PM

Taking a gap year is a big decision, and figuring out how to do it can be overwhelming.

If you’re struggling to make a plan for your gap year, take a look at these guidelines to get ideas for how to plan (financially, academically, and personally), a successful gap year.

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Topics: Semester, Expedition Prep, adventure, Gap Year, education, backcountry, leadership

Why You Should Get Outside for Your Gap Year

By Molly Herber on 2/12/16 1:27 PM

Each year, more students choose to take a gap year before college, spending the year after graduating high school to travel, work or volunteer. A gap year is a great way to gain experience, learn about yourself, and take a break from the traditional classroom before buckling down for another four years of school. Choosing the right gap year program can be tricky. If you type "gap year" into your search bar, you'll see what feels like an endless list of options.

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Topics: Behind the Scenes, Semester, Backpacking, adventure, Gap Year, education, backcountry, leadership

A Second Family: My Home Stay in Patagonia

By NOLS Blog on 11/13/15 7:05 AM

By Caroline Herman, Patagonia Year 2014-2015

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Topics: Alumni, Behind the Scenes, NOLS Patagonia, Gap Year

How an Outdoor Enthusiast Managed Two Decades in the City [Interview with Curtis Bartosik, Part 1]

By NOLS Blog on 11/9/15 7:10 AM

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Topics: Alumni, NOLS Rocky Mountain, Live the Dream, Gap Year, backcountry, Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability

I Belong in the Woods: New Zealand Gap Year

By NOLS Blog on 8/19/15 8:00 AM

By Natalie Beittel, Semester in New Zealand ‘10

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Topics: Alumni, Semester, NOLS New Zealand, Live the Dream, Gap Year, education

What I Learned from My Child’s Gap Year [Interview]

By Molly Herber on 7/7/15 8:00 AM

"Just listen to your child."

A little while back we shared Molly Hunt’s story of her gap year, which included a NOLS Semester in New Zealand. We caught up with her mother to hear about what the gap year experience is like from a parent’s perspective, and she offered some great advice on why a gap year is a powerful learning tool and how to build a meaningful gap year.

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Topics: Alumni, Behind the Scenes, Semester, NOLS New Zealand, Gap Year

A Gap Year at NOLS and The Wall Street Journal

By Katy Anderson on 1/11/11 8:04 AM

On December 29, 2010, The Wall Street Journal published an article entitled "Delaying College to Fill in the Gaps," quoting NOLS grad Ben Parker. Ben was accepted by the University of Iowa but deferred his admission to spend a fall Semester in the Rockies. Ben is part of a larger wave of high school graduates who are choosing to take a "gap year."

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Topics: NOLS, Expedition Prep, National Outdoor Leadership School, Interim Education, outdoor education, Sandwich Year, Gap Year