Gap semesters, gap years, and even longer college deferments can, for the right students, be very important, if not essential. Peak Time experiences are unique and potentially transformational approaches to this time before college.

For high school graduates whose particular challenges and interests lead them to choose a pre-college gap, Peak Time experiences are often at least four to five months long, with students benefiting from getting right to work on their areas of vulnerability, focusing on their passions, and beginning to acquire Six Transformational Skills.

If your gap year plans include travel or social service, a Peak Time experience beforehand may broaden and deepen your understanding of the experiences ahead while expanding your abilities to direct yourself and succeed in it.

The Objectives of a Peak Time Experience for gap year students

High school graduates who are deferring college to participate in a Peak Time experience work one-on-one and in small groups with a team of collaborative mentors, coaches, and guides. Their team helps them acquire Six Transformational Skills and use these skills to:

  • Discover their passion and turn it to meaningful purpose

  • Strengthen their areas of greatest interest and enjoyment

  • Remediate their areas of historic vulnerability

  • Create a seamless transition to the rest of their planned gap year experience

Student testimonial

Below is a testimonial written by a recent Peak Time Experience student:

Peak Time Experience is truly that, an exploration of the individual, separate from the pressures so often met within the confines of schools and families. When my parents first suggested Peak Year I thought they were nuts. I had never heard of anything like it before and felt as if they were shipping me off to some place for troubled kids. I could not have been more wrong. My time in New York City with the collective of mentors on my team reshaped the way I view and interact with the world.

Peak Year offers engagement with the entirety of the self. That is to say, each subject offered to you directly relates to the acceleration of the individual, based on your interests. My mentors not only engaged with me as a peer but also took each emotion or experience I had and empathized completely, often times also guiding it into a productive means of expression. In addition, the mentors showered me with information and opportunities which ultimately led me to discovering interests that I had never fully acknowledged in myself before.

I found true freedom through singing and reengaged with music in a way I had found difficult before. I no longer was afraid of "failing" because I wasn't being judged or graded for it! My mentor Rick and I wrote and recorded music together which was not only freeing but absolutely crucial to my growth as a singer and as a member of the creative community. In addition to my work with Rick, my work with Caitlin led me to my love of jazz singing. Both Caitlin and Rick provided safe spaces for exploration and creation. For this I cannot thank them enough. I also was extremely blessed to be exposed to yoga, tai chi, and mindfulness which completely changed me as a person. I had been so overly emotional my entire life and never knew how to engage with those emotions in a healthy way but through my work with these mentors I learned to assimilate the skills from these disciplines into my experience of self.

I feel absolutely blessed to have had the opportunity to attend Peak Year and would recommend it to any person considering it. I continue to have relationships with my mentors at IU and cannot imagine my life without my time there.


Names and other incidental facts (e.g. age, gender, length of study, specific subjects studied, etc.) in the following case histories have been altered to ensure the privacy of Peak Year students.

Story 1

A gifted lacrosse player, C was thrilled to learn that he had been recruited by a nationally-ranked university. While excited to begin his studies, C and his family recognized that he lacked the Executive Function skills requisite for success in a high-powered school. They therefore wisely decided to enroll him in a one-month Peak Time Experience program during the summer before school started.

During his Peak Time Experience, C worked with a team of mentors to develop core and higher order Executive Functions while developing strategies for better organization and time management. C’s mentors included novelists, essayists, and historians who helped him to develop strategies for tackling the academic stresses of college, including writing papers, engaging in seminar discussion, managing multiple deadlines, and preparing for exams.

C’s seven-week intensive program helped to transform not only his approach to completing academic work, but the way he engaged with research and inquiry. He is now preparing for a successful fall in college – both on and off the field.

Story 2

D’s experience at his progressive West Coast private high school allowed him to explore learning from many different and creative angles. He was an accomplished artist and a strong academic student who possessed a great capacity for learning. Yet he consistently struggled with executive functions such as organization, time management, and decision-making. In addition, D was often at odds with his parents about his plans for the future and the path he should take. This was causing significant family strife.

During his senior year, as many of his friends were setting their sights on the “perfect college,” D found himself struggling to decide what to do and where to go. This struggle persisted despite encouragement and guidance from his parents, friends, and professional counselors until one of them heard about Peak Year and recommended its services. D subsequently became one of Peak Year’s first semester-long intensive students.

Through drawing, photography, design thinking, mindfulness, and tango sessions with inspiring mentors, D began to hone his specific passions within the field of art. During this time, he also began his college search, but now it was on his own terms and in his own time. While he was clearly in charge of this pursuit, he counted on his sessions with mentors to help scaffold and support him, even joining him on several college visits. During this time, D was also able to assemble his art portfolio (a requirement for the schools he had chosen), a project he previously could not get off the ground during his senior year despite great attempts to do so.