gap year program

What to Look For in a Transition Program vs Gap Year Program

For many people, taking a gap year serves as a wonderful opportunity to take a break from a traditional academic trajectory. Gap year programs help young adults avoid academic burnout, so they are more engaged in their school experience upon return. Gap year programs can also offer clarity about what someone next steps or course of study should be. However, many gap year programs are unstructured and expect participants to take initiative to get the most out of the experience. Transition programs may be a better option for young adults who decide to take a gap year due to mental health struggles, as there is more support available to help them launch into independence.

What are Gap Year Programs?

Gap year programs are designed to provide a break, or gap, between high school and college for a young adult to gain broaden their perspective with new experiences. Many gap year programs are offered abroad, where groups of young adults are immersed in a new culture and participate in a variety of volunteer or recreation opportunities. These programs are essentially group travel programs and often lack structure around how to be intentional about taking a gap year. As a result, some students struggle to transition back to an academic setting after a year of unstructured travel.

What are Transition Programs?

For young adults that want to participate in a gap year program, but need something that offers therapeutic support, an option to consider is Journey Home Young Adult. This 6-12 month program works with teens ages 18-23 that have previously gotten support for mental health issues. The teens at Journey Home Young Adult have been successful in a prior treatment setting, but still need some of the support that an transitional living program can offer. 

Like traditional gap year programs, transition programs offer fun activities in the community and teach independent living skills, but they also provide college counseling, job skills training, and individual therapy. Students can also choose to take classes at any of the local colleges we’ve partnered with in Salt Lake City to earn credits and adjust to college life with additional support.

The Difference Depends on Individual Goals

Some people use gap years as a way to travel and see the world, while others see it as an opportunity to work or volunteer in their goal profession, to see if they would like to study in that field. Young adults who don’t feel ready to commit to a specific school or career or who don’t know when they will have the chance to explore without responsibilities again often choose to take a gap year to have fun, meet new people, and think outside of the box. 

Young adults who struggle with self-esteem, social anxiety, loss of interest in things they used to enjoy, or learning differences are more likely to consider taking a gap year for these reasons. They may feel motivated to attend school or start working, but don’t feel confident enough to take this leap alone. 

Questions to Consider When Choosing a Structured Gap Year Program:


  • How Will This Program Prepare Me to Launch into Adulthood?
  • What Level of Mentoring is Offered by Older Adults?
  • What Are Opportunities for Recreation at the Program?
  • How Many Other People Participate in the Program?
  • If I Am Struggling With Mental Health Issues, What Support is Available?


Journey Home Young Adult Can Help 

Journey Home Young Adult is a transitional living program for teens ages 18-23. This program addresses emotional, behavioral, and mental health disorders that teens may face. Common presenting problems include depression, anxiety, attachment issues, academic struggles, and low self-esteem. Journey Home creates an environment conducive to healing where teens can learn healthy coping skills while becoming more well-equipped to launch into adulthood. Students leave this program feeling empowered, happy, and healthy. We can help your family today!

Contact us at 855-918-0032 to learn more about our gap year programming.


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