LeapYear is a gap year and a full year of college through Naropa University—a year of experience, adventure, and personal reflection. It is a transformative bridge into college and independent adulthood. LeapYear programs run Fall-Spring and Spring-Summer, allowing two yearly opportunities to complete a full gap year, first or second year of college, or final year of high school.
Two semesters (Fall-Spring or Spring-Summer) of transformative learning experiences including:
LeapYear is a year of intentional travel, immersion, and adventure:
Immersive Learning Retreats bookend the travel portions of your year, providing a structured opportunity to integrate, reflect, and carry forward your learning experiences.
LeapYear’s Immersive Learning Retreats are designed to prepare students for their travel experiences ahead. Retreats are structured, cultivated learning opportunities that allow for a deep-dive into reflection of one’s journey through our contemplative curriculum. Retreats take place near or on Naropa University’s campus in beautiful Boulder, Colorado.
Our first immersive learning retreat sets the foundation for the year and prepares students for their small group international travel. Core Elements include:
The first semester of LeapYear is 9-10 weeks of small group travel in South Asia or Central America. Groups are generally 8-12 students with 2 leaders. During these months of group travel, gain the skills you need to live, travel, and work as an emerging changemaker in our world. Learn what it means to be a smart and safe traveler, practice new social norms, and experience cultural adaption to new and foreign places.
From the pristine trails and exquisite landscapes of the Himalayas to bustling Varanasi, one of the oldest cities in the world, the Indian subcontinent is a land infused with spiritual richness and cultural vibrancy. The journey includes learning service projects, community immersion in homestays, culture and language study experiences, and rich opportunities to learn about the diverse social and spiritual traditions of India and Nepal.
With abundant natural beauty in the lush volcanic highlands, the turquoise coastal waters, and everything in between, Central America is a land of rich cultural heritage. Travel in Guatemala in Costa Rica evokes wonder and curiosity through language immersion, community and family homestays, cultural exploration, adventure trekking, and environmental service.
Rather than simply being a break, traveling home after the first semester of LeapYear is an integral and important part of the learning journey. Returning to someplace familiar after a travel experience and seeing it with new eyes is a tremendous learning opportunity to understand oneself and one’s experiences in a deeper way. To support this learning, our curriculum continues during this program break. Written reflection and contemplative practices learned on program continue at home, and preparations for next semester continue with support from LeapYear.
Our middle immersive learning retreat holistically integrates students’ learning from first semester and prepares students for their second semester internship. Core elements include:
The independent international internship embodies the Naropa motto: “Transform yourself, transform the world”. This is an opportunity for students to both explore their passions and learn how their gifts can serve the world within the framework of Naropa’s long-standing international partnerships. Choosing from Naropa’s widely-ranging partner sites, the independent international internship allows students to:
Over your LeapYear, you will have countless adventures, make life-long friends around the globe, and develop a deeper relationship with yourself and the individual you want to be. Our closing learning retreat celebrates the successes, completes the curriculum, and shifts the lens towards what’s next.
We harvest the learning of the year through reflective writing, group storytelling, and individual presentations. We attend to the experiences of the year, to distill the knowledge and wisdom that can guide our steps after LeapYear. The year culminates with a formal rite of passage and graduation ceremony for students, families, and loved ones.
LeapYear’s Rite of Passage
Nearly every culture on the planet shows evidence of a ceremonial marking of the passage from youth to adulthood, undertaken consciously and witnessed by the community. Without such acknowledgement from adults, how do young people “know” they have crossed over into a new life-stage? And what happens when young people grow into adulthood, but are never initiated nor honored in their new roles?
LeapYear’s curriculum cultivates this movement into adulthood, specifically through learning themes centered on life skills development, socioemotional learning, and intentional community building. Scaffolded learning practices throughout the year include: