FAQ - What to expect at your High Desert Center Gap Year
The answer depends on where we are and what we're doing.
During the fall semester the schedule varies from day to day:
Monday, Tuesday and Friday are challenge days, which means from 9-3 you are immersed in an activity, focused on building a skill or exploring an interesting topic. You have some down time until dinner at 5, and usually after dinner we have a check-in, or a fire, or a discussion.
Wednesdays are adventure days. We usually climb a mountain or explore a local canyon.
Tuesdays and Saturdays are off days, which gives you time to decompress, do laundry, go to town to get food at the Thai truck and hit up the local thrift stores, and to stay in touch with people from home.
Sundays are community days. We check-in as a group, play games, study communication skills, and throw a big, themed dinner party.
During the spring semester, the daily schedule will depend on what adventures you choose to explore.
Each person will have their own bed and share a cabin with other participants. We use solar showers and composting toilets and cook in an outdoor kitchen. It's rustic. Those who like rustic are comfortable; those who resist it aren't.
Meals will be mostly local food–lots of veggies and grains, local meat for those who want it, fresh bread when we make it. One of our goals is to practice eating well at minimal cost.
We are accustomed to meeting the needs of vegetarians and vegans, although you should expect to eat local beans and walnuts rather than avocados and soy cheese. We can also minimize gluten, although it has proven challenging to serve those who are strongly celiac (we have done it). If you have special food needs that aren’t easily met with a local, whole foods diet, you might need to supplement with your own snacks. Please talk with us well in advance about your special needs.
Yes, visits are possible. Normally we ask people to only stay for a day or two and to not sleep in our cabins.
It is important that visitors get themselves to and from Paonia. Generally we are too busy during the semester to be picking up visitors at airports or bus stations.
Participants should already be in decent shape by the time they arrive, able to comfortably walk six miles with a pack in two hours. Physical activity is a big part of this program and you need to embrace it, to be willing to do what it takes to shovel hard for two hours or climb a craggy mountain or carry a backpack with everything you need in it for a week. By the end of the year you'll be in better shape and confident.
The program fee includes all food, housing, transportation and activities while the group is together but does not include your individual transportation to and from Paonia and optional spending money for personal purchases or activities. You will need to provide your own health insurance. You will also be asked to come with some of your own outdoor equipment, like a sleeping bag, hiking boots and a water filter. Check out our equipment list here.
This is a very personal question--and one that might take some self reflection to answer for yourself. Some people are spenders and some people are savers. Some people only spend money on things like toothpaste and shampoo. Some people love to buy chips at the gas station, coffee at the coffee shop, a sweater at the thrift store, a trip to the movie theater, and go to the Thai food truck on their off days.
So...anywhere from $50 to $500? It's entirely personal, but we won't require that they spend any money out of pocket during the program.
- If you are accepted, $1000 is due within three weeks to hold your spot.
- For the full Gap Year: The first installment of tuition ($4,000) is due by June 1st and the remaining balance ($4,850) is due by August 15th.
- For the fall semester: The full tuition ($5,500) is due by June 1st.
- If you apply after June 1st, your deposit and the first installment of tuition is due within two weeks of being accepted into the program.
The skills you’ll learn in this program provide a foundation for making college and/or life work for you. You’ll practice seeing opportunity and seizing it, living the good life in keeping with your values, and meeting basic life needs well and affordably. More importantly, you will discover ways to live that give meaning and purpose to the moments and the learning. For many students, the first year of college are about discovering who you are, making friends and learning how to follow through with your goals. If you go to college after this gap year, you’ll already have this foundation in place and be ready to focus on the subjects at hand.
No, but it is often possible to do these things yourself. Dev has a Ph.D. and many colleges will approve independent study credits with him as a mentor. We can also create official looking transcripts and will document what we do through individual online portfolios.