<iframe src="//www.googletagmanager.com/ns.html?id=GTM-NP2ZK8" height="0" width="0" style="display:none;visibility:hidden"></iframe> LEAPYEAR

Naropa partners with LEAPNOW to provide the Most Unique Year of College on the Planet

LEAPYEAR StudentsNaropa is pleased to partner with LEAPNOW to offer an alternative first year of college called “LEAPYEAR” that brings together the best of international experiential learning with a program of contemplative study to prepare students to make the best use of their college careers.

LEAPYEAR includes:

  • ten weeks of group travel in India or Latin America,
  • a three-month individual internship of your own choosing,
  • two months of intensive inner-directed retreats focused on navigating successfully into adulthood at our campus in Northern California,
  • formal and informal Rites of Passage, and
  • full-time enrollment at Naropa University, with standard access to federal financial aid & additional scholarships

The Group Semester Abroad

During the first semester of a LEAPYEAR, students travel in groups of 8–12 with two experienced adult leaders. Students have a choice of traveling to India or Latin America.

The emphasis is on breadth of experience—immersion in the language, sampling of diverse short-term internships, social service work, trekking, work with endangered animals or on behalf of the environment, and completion of  short-term yoga or meditation retreats. During these group travel months, students learn the skills they will need to live, travel and work independently during the individual internship in the second half of the year.

The Individual Internship

Take advantage of an unparalleled database of over 6,300 internships, volunteer options, work exchanges, and apprenticeships which are available only to LEAPYEAR students. We have amassed this database through travel, networking and research since 1977, and it is one of the most comprehensive of its kind in the world. The breadth of these options allows us to ask questions that are asked far too rarely in educational environments: "If you could wave your magic wand, what would you most like to do? What learning environment would bring you most alive? What’s the 'juiciest' thing you can conceive of doing for 3 months?"

Individual Internships allow you to explore an interest in depth and "try on" a field you are considering majoring in college or doing for a living, live and volunteer just about anywhere in the world, and immerse yourself in a culture and gain language fluency.

Please note that the internships available to LEAPYEAR students number in the thousands and range across 126 countries, including the United States. Here are some of the thousands that are offered:

  • Work with children just about anywhere in the world—in schools, orphanages, on the streets, in refugee camps and other settings,
  • Medical work outside of the United States—in Ecuador, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Africa, and many other locations,
  • Alternative healing internships: herbalism, Ayurveda, bodywork, etc.,
  • Building construction in the U.S and many other countries—conventional, sustainable and alternative methods. Build treehouses in Japan,
  • Work on organic farms throughout the world—Australia, NZ, Africa, Asia, Latin America, the U.S, Europe, and the Caribbean,
  • Work with animals in the U.S., Australia, Bolivia, Ecuador, Kenya, South Africa, India, Argentina, Nepal, and other countries. Work with elephants, primates, pumas, birds, sea turtles, penguins, musk oxen, baby baboons, horses and farm animals, Great White Sharks, and more,
  • Arts & crafts study and apprenticeship in Latin America, India, Africa, Europe, Canada, and Asia. Blacksmithing, jewelry-making, glass blowing, weaving, print-making, fashion design,
  • Work with scientists—ecology, botany, marine science, forestry, archaeology, anthropology and more,
  • Work with midwives in Latin America, Indonesia, Africa and elsewhere,
  • Spiritual study: yoga retreats, ashrams, meditation, etc.,
  • Hotel management internships, work in chateaus in France, retreat center internships. Work at intentional & sustainable communities throughout the world,
  • Political internships in the UK, Australia & Switzerland,
  • SCUBA dive internships in the Galapagos, the Caribbean, the Gulf of Thailand, and on the Great Barrier Reef,
  • Work with women's issues and women's empowerment groups throughout the world,
  • Serve people with disabilities, the very poor, the dying, the blind or deaf, the homeless and those who are autistic or developmentally delayed,
  • Language immersion and homestays throughout the world,
  • Work with indigenous people in the U.S. and abroad, work on remote Pacific islands,
  • Teach at outdoor education centers in the U.S. and New Zealand, and lead treks in the Guatemalan highlands,
  • Apprentice in recording studios or work with filmmakers or photographers,
  • Study marine science, support the UN in Switzerland, cook in a kibbutz kitchen in Israel, and teach English to Tibetan Buddhist monks & nuns, and much more....

The Inner Journey Retreats

This inner journey is facilitated through four residential retreats totaling eight weeks at the LEAPNOW campus in northern California. These retreats, ranging in length from eight to twenty-one days, form the backbone of the LEAPYEAR program. Students put aside their phones, iPods, texting and Internet to minimize distraction and virtual engagement, and focus on hearing their unique and guiding inner voice. During this time, students are introduced to their curriculum, Naropa courses designed specifically for LEAPYEAR to develop the whole human being. The daily schedule for each retreat includes three to five hours of participatory and embodied classes in our studio, one hour of a physical discipline (yoga, t'ai chi, dance), four hours of outdoor work or cooking/baking, and some free time. The schedule is full and all activities are relevant.

Eligibility & Dates

Eligibility: Minimum age is 17 by the start of the program (not negotiable). Maximum age is 24.

Admission Requirements:

  • No previous language proficiency is required.
  • Participants must have completed high school in order to enroll for college credit and financial aid - otherwise the program may be attended for high school completion. Previous college experience, whether from Naropa University or elsewhere, is fine.
  • You must be able to attend the full program.
  • We don't accept tobacco users, or anyone in the active grip of any other addiction. 
  • Anyone in reasonable physical condition should be able to complete the program successfully. 
  • A vegetarian diet can be sustained throughout the program.

Dates: The next LEAPYEAR starts in September 2015, and runs through May 2016. We also run a LEAPYEAR that starts in the Spring, running January through August 2016.

Steps for Applying

If interested in LEAPYEAR:

  1. Visit our website or download the information packet and application.
  2. Send the completed application to the LEAPNOW office. 
  3. Once your application is received, we will contact you to arrange an interview.  Applicants must interview with LEAPNOW in person. LEAPNOW staff travel periodically to Colorado, the Northeast and the Northwest—please call if you'd like to take advantage of this proximity for your LEAPYEAR interview.
  4. Prospective students are notified if they are accepted within one week of their interview.