Editor’s Note: Carolyn wrote this letter to her future self on a one-night solo near the end of her Semester in New Zealand.Read More
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.Read More
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!)Read More
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.Read More
To family and friends alike (and to the other people who care to read my rambling with the hope that I might, just might go into detail about how long my armpit hair is, or how many times I had to poop in a bag over the course of two and a half months):
I am writing from the train as I think about the past 80 days.
No matter how excited you are about heading out on a trip, it’s likely that you’ll feel homesick at least some of the time you're away. Being away from family and friends can be tough. Luckily, there are a few things you can do before and while you’re on your trip to manage homesickness when it strikes.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
I spent the summer before my junior year of college working for a trail crew. That summer was the most wonderful, the most physically and the most mentally challenging three months of my life.
We hiked 20 miles a day cutting out fallen trees. We carried loaded pack boards up mountains to work sites where we quarried rock to build staircases on the trail. The constant challenge was exhausting but liberating.Read More
"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.Read More
While taking a gap year is not a normal thing to do in the U.S. after graduating from high school, it was hands-down the best experience that I could have had before entering college. I had no guidance in selecting a gap year—my college counselor didn’t even know what a gap year was. I, alone, had to plan my year with diligence, create goals, and nail down the things in my life that I sought to improve before entering college. Little did I know when I chose NOLS that I was about to embark on a hugely positive, life changing adventure.Read More