FAQ

Gap at CET: Frequently Asked Questions

Find answers to some of the questions we most often get asked. If you have a question you don’t see here, or would like to chat further about some of these answers, contact us!

About

CET Academic Programs is a study abroad organization that has been developing and operating innovative educational programs abroad since 1982. Originally “China Educational Tours,” CET began operations in Beijing, and today offers a varied portfolio of semester, summer, and customized programs for college, high school, pre-college, and gap year students around the world. Known for strong academics, professional program management, and supportive student services, CET strives to integrate students into their host communities, adopt environmentally conscientious practices, and promote diversity and inclusion across all programs. Learn more about CET here.

Gap at CET programs are available throughout the year in 5 different countries: China, Italy, Japan, Jordan, and Vietnam. Depending on the location, CET gap students focus on either intensive language study or an internship plus language. All gap students participate in a non-credit core course offered virtually that connects them to their CET gap cohort worldwide in discussion and reflection about their experience.   

In addition to the Gap at CET programs, CET offers the China Fieldwork Semester, a spring term program based in rural China that is open to both high school and gap participants. CET also offers Custom Language Training as well as a Global Virtual Internship. Gap students may also be eligible for some of CET’s college programs on a case-by-case basis. Please inquire for more details.

For graduating seniors who are looking for a summer program, CET offers 4-week Global Perspective summer programs in China, France, Italy, Japan, Spain, and Washington, DC. Students take a survey course for college credit that explores global perspectives on international issues, studying and discussing topics such as identity, environmental sustainability, and public health. On-site activities and excursions bring the course themes to life, and students experience and get to know local culture through homestays (in abroad programs), local connections, and language instruction. Learn more about the Global Perspectives program

There are countless reasons to take gap time, along with many benefits reported as outcomes by gap alumni. Some of the most cited are the following, which give gap students an opportunity to:

Examine and Enhance Your Life:
As a gap student, you step outside of your comfort zone to gain life experience and challenge yourself in new situations. In doing so, you: 

     • Build self-confidence, independence, and creative problem-solving skills
     • Develop as a person, find purpose, and intentionally take time for personal reflection and personal growth

Experience and Explore the World:
As a gap student, you travel – internationally, domestically, or even virtually- to encounter and engage with other cultures. In doing so, you:

     • Develop cross-cultural understanding, empathy, and a deeper knowledge of your host location, and learn to interact with people from backgrounds different from you
     • Immerse yourself in a new location, potentially learning or gaining fluency in a new language

Expand and Elevate Your Future:
As a gap student, you explore new interests, including future study or career options. In doing so, you:

     • Gain new skills and practical field or work experience that will be useful in future endeavors
     • Prepare and become more ready for college, go to college with greater purpose, and become a more compelling candidate by speaking about your gap experience in college admissions essays

The Gap Year Association’s website features research on the impact of gap years, including studies about college academic performance, job satisfaction, employability, motivation, and other personal outcomes reported as a result of taking gap time. Learn more here.

Gap at CET programs allow you to:

     • Get a taste of the college academic experience and earn college credits.
     • Enhance reading, writing, and critical thinking skills.
     • Develop skills you’ll need in college such as independence, time management, good study habits, and living away from home.
     • Establish lifelong connections and friendships by studying alongside college and gap students from across the U.S., meeting local students from the host country, and connecting with other gap students on programs around the world through a virtual cohort experience.
     • Learn a language and/or gain valuable experience through an internship placement.

With over 35 years of experience, CET is a leader in the field of study abroad, recognized for academic excellence, and is proud of our:

     • Outstanding student support from full-time, bilingual, on-site staff.
     • Extensive local networks and resources, and expert faculty.
     • Comprehensive risk management strategies that prioritize health & safety, especially in response to COVID-19.
     • Partnerships with top universities and membership in professional groups such as Diversity Abroad, the Gap Year Association, and NAFSA: Association of International Educators.
     • Commitment to accessibility and inclusion, including offering financial assistance for gap programs and welcoming and supporting students of all races, religions, origins, abilities, gender identities, and sexual orientations. CET has made a commitment to Generation Study Abroad and is a proud supporter of the Fund for Education Abroad.
     • Commitment to social and environmental sustainability, including measures to reduce our carbon footprint and give back to local communities.
     • Team of dedicated professionals committed to the life-changing power of study abroad, and our recognition as a “2020 Top Workplace” by The Washington Post.

Think about your academic goals. Looking to build fluency in a foreign language you’ve already studied or considering minoring or majoring in one during college? Maybe you want to try learning a language you’ve had no experience with before. While all Gap at CET programs feature a language course, Intensive Language programs offer an immersive experience to help you make impressive language gains. You engage in a challenging curriculum and may even abide by a language pledge.

Think about your future career aspirations. Start building the foundation of your international career with an internship abroad. You dedicate a significant portion of your study abroad to working at a local organization where you gain practical work experience, build intercultural communication skills, and explore your interests outside the classroom. These programs are typically internship-focused, but are typically paired with electives or language courses. This may be an especially great option if you are more of an experiential learner.

Identify other reasons you wish to study abroad. Are you hoping to reconnect with your family’s heritage? Have you always been fascinated by a country’s pop culture, music, and art? Are you a history buff or foodie – each location will offer opportunities to explore more, but there may be one place that draws you in more than another. Thinking about college study abroad or living and working overseas later in life? Use your gap program to help decide if you’d like a longer experience somewhere. Already visited one of the locations? You might want to step out of your comfort zone and experience somewhere new.

Engage a broader network. Speak with your teachers or counselors to get their advice or connect with a family or community member who has been to one of the program locations to get their insight. Reach out to a CET alum to hear about their experience and make sure to read through their blog posts to get a taste of the day-to-day on-site. You can also visit sites such as GoOverseas.com to read reviews or follow CET on Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, or Facebook to see photos, videos, and highlights from each program. And of course, connect with CET staff with any questions you have or to set up a time to chat about different options. 

Housing varies by location, but CET aims for an immersive housing experience that is an extension of your academic experience. Whether you live with a local roommate from the host country in a student dormitory or apartment, or live with a local family in a homestay, you’ll engage in intercultural learning outside of the classroom, practice your language kills, and connect with the culture and daily life of your host country in a meaningful way.

Learn more about Gap at CET housing here or by visiting each specific program page.

Applications & Admissions

CET seeks motivated high school graduates who are interested in focusing on language acquisition or an internship during a challenging and rewarding gap experience. To be eligible for a Gap at CET program, you must:

     • Be 18 or older at the time of program participation (or earlier, in some cases, due to visa requirements)
     • Have a high school diploma but are not yet enrolled at a college or university degree program.
     • Generally, have a cumulative high school grade point average of 3.0 or higher.

Can’t travel? You might enjoy Custom Language Training or the Global Virtual Internship program with CET from your home. Have other plans for the year and looking for a shorter summer experience? Recent high school graduates are also eligible for CET’s Global Perspectives program. Already in college? Check out our College Programs.

You’ll complete an online application form, submit transcripts, and need a letter of recommendation from a teacher. Learn more about what else is included in an application here

The application deadlines for gap programs are generally in the following months:

     • Summer programs: March 1
     • Fall term programs: May 1
     • Spring term programs: October 1 (Japan and Italy) and November 1 (all other gap programs).

Please check individual program pages and your online application for specifics and any updates. Payment deadlines are outlined here

Your online application includes one required recommendation. This should be from a previous high school teacher or college professor familiar with your academic work.

To send the electronic form request, simply enter the name and email address of your teacher or faculty member in the designated fields of your online account.

If either recommendation is difficult to obtain, please contact us. In the past, we have considered recommendations from other relevant references.

Yes! Most CET programs do not require a scan of your passport until shortly after you are accepted to a program. Even if your application requires passport information before acceptance, we can make arrangements if you do not have a passport. If you do not currently have a valid passport, please begin the application process as soon as possible.

Of course! The more time you spend overseas, the more you get out of it. We encourage students to consider studying abroad for more than one term, such as taking two gap terms, in the same or different locations. Add Custom Language Training to help you prepare before your gap experience on-site or spend a summer during high school with CET on a Global Perspectives program to see if you’d like to take your gap year there. This option is available for all of our programs and locations, and we provide a discount on the tuition for any additional term(s).  

Your eligibility depends on the program you have selected and your specific circumstances. Please contact CET, and we’d happy to help you determine which CET program may be right for you.

Details about how to apply for your visa are posted in your online account once you apply. No student is guaranteed a visa. CET does not grant visas. The process varies by program, so be sure to read and follow the instructions carefully. Non-U.S. citizens should contact CET as soon as possible to determine if they need a visa. Only the government of the country where you are studying has the authority to grant a visa. Students who follow the guidelines provided by CET usually have success with the visa process.

If your destination requires a visa, you can count on our assistance. Depending on the particular visa requirements for your destination, we may get the visa for you, or we may provide you all the documentation and information you’ll need to get the visa on your own. We may also cover the required visa fees if you use the service and timeline recommended by CET. No matter your particular requirements, we will be there to help every step of the way.

Each year, CET students reflect a wide range of backgrounds, including students with disabilities. We encourage people with disabilities to apply to CET programs and we do not discriminate based on disability.

Information on diversity and inclusion is available for most of our programs, and we make every effort possible to offer accommodations comparable to what you might find at your home school. Disclosing early and in your application helps us to make proper preparations and work with you to determine if a program will be a good fit. You are also welcome to contact CET to discuss program options and specific accommodations.

When each item in your online account has been checked off, congratulations, your application is complete! You’re welcome to complete your application in advance, and we continue accepting applications until each program’s application deadline. For most programs, you will be emailed an admissions decision within 2 weeks of receipt of your completed application.

Finances & PAYMENTS

Yes! CET is committed to increasing access to study abroad and gap experiences and offers financial assistance for gap students who demonstrate family financial need. To learn more details about eligibility and funding available, please visit the Finances section of our website.

Research online. There are many resources online to help you find funding options, including tips for fundraising. This page on the Gap Year Association’s website is a great place to start, and you may find additional useful tips on other directory sites, such as Go Overseas. YouTube is also a good place to look. Many gap students have posted videos about their fundraising advice and success stories.

Speak with an alum. Ask CET to put you in touch with an alum who can share their ideas about fundraising, and tell you about their experience on the program.

Be creative with filling in the funding gaps. Try to squeeze in a part-time job during school breaks or offer to babysit or do yardwork for a neighbor on the weekends. Crafty? Create artwork, cards, accessories, treats, or other hand-made items that you can sell or give as personalized gifts instead of buying presents. Ask for luggage for your birthday or an upcoming holiday or look for a local business willing to sponsor your program. Take a close look at your current budget to see if there are extraneous expenses you can cut down on. For every latte you forgo now, imagine yourself trekking with new friends along the Great Wall of China, learning to make a new dish in an Italian cooking class, or fluently chatting in Arabic at your internship in Jordan.

Understand what is and what is not included in the program’s cost. Housing, airfare, supplemental excursions, textbooks, and visa expenses can all add quite a bit to a program’s bottom line. When you’re evaluating options, make sure you are comparing apples to apples. A program that includes a lot of extras may look expensive but might actually be the most affordable option once out-of-pocket costs have been factored in to the fees of other programs.

Fees vary by program, but most Gap at CET programs are between $6,000 – $16,000, including all tuition, housing, comprehensive insurance, textbooks and course materials, program excursions and activities, and a college transcript for completing the course— basically everything except meals, international airfare, and spending money. See individual program pages for more information about fees.  

As a third-party program provider, and not an institution of higher education, CET does not have a Department of Education (DOE) code. This means that in most cases, you may not be able to use your 529 plan directly towards CET tuition.

However, we encourage you to speak to your 529 provider directly about specific requirements and any flexibility there may be. Depending on the state you’re in, some may allow it since you’re earning college credit and there may be flexibility to provide a CET invoice as proof of payment to access 529 savings. Again, you should check with your 529 provider. 

Yes, CET will work with gap students and their families to offer a payment plan, with full payment due before the program begins. And if you are still having difficulties paying the tuition in full by deadline, please contact us. We may be able to help.

Pre-DEPARTURE Preparations

You should check with the CDC and your doctor or make an appointment with a travel doctor for vaccination recommendations for your program’s country. 

You can find a packing guide in your CET online account.

CET encourages all students to register themselves with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. By registering, students will receive information and alerts via email from the U.S. Embassy in their host country. Registration also provides the Embassy with your and your family’s contact information in case of an emergency. 

Health & Safety

We take health and safety very seriously and with over 35 years of experience in study abroad, CET has a strong track record with risk and crisis management. We rely on careful planning and preparation, well-trained overseas staff with local knowledge and contacts, professional resources in the US and abroad, and regular review and communication about potential issues. 

CET gap program sites have centers with faculty and staff who live there year-round, speak the local language, and know the city and culture. Experienced staff in our Washington, DC main office are available 24/7 to provide support for any health, safety, or security concerns that arise.  All students on programs abroad are enrolled in GeoBlue insurance, which includes medical and evacuation coverage.

Learn more about CET’s approach to health and safety.

CET has worked extensively to develop plans for ensuring student health and safety at each of our program sites in light of COVID-19. Learn more about CET’s Post-COVID Playbook.

We automatically enroll all students on programs abroad into GeoBlue insurance, even if you already have another form of insurance. The cost for this is included in the program fee. GeoBlue insurance is comprehensive and includes coverage for medical evacuation.

Our on-site staff in each location is familiar with the local hospitals and doctors and much of this information will be provided to you during the on-site orientation. If you need to visit a doctor, we will help you locate one that is covered by GeoBlue insurance.

While nothing can fully guarantee the security of students, CET works very hard to mitigate known risks, to keep students trained and informed, and to partner with industry-leading experts for incident response.

On arrival, students have an extensive on-site orientation led by our local staff which includes coverage of security procedures. Students also participate in an emergency drill. CET does not take students to any areas listed as “Do Not Travel” by the US State Department.

In addition to having expert in-country staff who are well-trained on security matters, CET monitors the ground situation carefully on a daily basis, using open source material, governmental tools, and commissioned reports. We also partner with Global Rescue and GeoBlue insurance, so we are able to respond in a timely and effective manner to any emergency.

Since we launched in 1982, we have seen our share of crises, and this experience is safely in our back pocket as we face new situations. It helps us think through all possible outcomes, consider all unintended consequences, and choose appropriate actions. Crisis response may include restricting student movement until the storm has passed, relocating the program to another city (either temporarily or for the remainder of the program), or in extreme cases, canceling the program and evacuating students permanently.

Families can always reach out to students directly. If you are unable to reach them, please call us at 800.225.4262 to reach a staff member 24 hours a day.

HOUSING

Housing varies by location, but CET aims for an immersive housing experience that is an extension of your academic experience. Whether you live with a local roommate from the host country in a student dormitory or apartment, or live with a local family in a homestay, you’ll engage in intercultural learning outside of the classroom, practice your language kills, and connect with the culture and daily life of your host country in a meaningful way.

Learn more about Gap at CET housing here or by visiting each specific program page.

Families can always reach out to students directly. If you are unable to reach them, please call us at 800.225.4262 to reach a staff member 24 hours a day.

OTHER

You can get in contact with CET however you feel most comfortable. Text or call us at (202) 349-0687, email us, or even DM us on social media. We’ll follow up by email, text, or a call as soon as we are able. 

We suggest families visit before or after the program dates, if visas allow. The schedule is pretty packed with classes, excursions, and activities, and visits from family or friends can be disruptive.

¡Sí! Favor de nos contactar si sus parientes desean hablar con un representante en español sobre los programas y reglamento de CET.

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