About Planet Gap Year

Our Mission

Planet Gap Year aims to create the first interactive on-line community for US high school graduates and college students to plan a productive gap year and help them choose a rewarding Gap Year program that best fits their needs.

Who We Are

Paul Mahon - Planet Gap Year Founder

Paul’s desire to launch this site and to promote the student gap year concept in the US is a culmination of many years of personal involvement in education, travel, study abroad and work in the field of financial planning, both with college students and university employees.

At age 17, Paul made the decision, with guidance from his parents, to delay college entrance one year, and to do a post-graduate year of study at a college preparatory school in Blairstown, New Jersey.

During his senior year at Northeastern University in Boston, he took a semester abroad and studied British politics, art and architecture in London, through the Council for International Educational Exchange. Paul also took a self planned career break within a year of graduating from college to participate in a cultural immersion and language study in Denmark.

He earned a masters degree in International Development Studies from Colorado State University in 2000 and most recently(2004-2006), planned and organized a career break with his family-moving from Boulder, Colorado to Oxford, England for two years in order to fulfill a dream of working and living in Britain, and traveling in Europe. Paul worked for Oxford University’s School of Politics and International Relations as well as the Oxford University Development Office.

As a financial aid counselor, Paul has worked with hundreds of students and families at Colorado State University’s Admissions and Financial Aid Office. Paul also has had a successful career spanning 13 years as a financial consultant to individuals, businesses, teachers, professors and college employees.

Contact Paul at:

Liz Mahon - Planet Gap Year Co-Founder


Liz was born in England but moved to South Africa with her family when she was 4 years old. During her summer vacation between her first and second year of university she spent a month volunteering at a language school in Switzerland and backpacked around Europe for 2 months.

Two years after graduating from the University of Witwatersrand with a degree in Physiotherapy, Liz moved to the US to gain a perspective on US culture by living in the Midwestern and Southern USA and working as a traveling physical therapist.

Liz moved to Boulder, Colorado in 1994 and continued to combine working as a physical therapist with numerous trips overseas. These included interning at a rural hospital in Tanzania, volunteering on house building projects in Mexico and inner city Chicago, and living with and teaching English to University students in China.

Liz has a Masters degree in cross cultural studies and has also spend 2 years working as a events coordinator for a child development organization, where she planned conferences for inner city urban youth workers.

Liz loves to inspire others to experience other cultures, languages and broaden their world view and truly believes that taking a 'gap' is a must for all.

Contact Liz at:

What We Believe

We believe that productive, well planned time off experiences (outside the traditional classroom setting) are essential to the development of all 18-24 year olds.

We believe that a student's degree of success in college, career and life beyond is positively impacted by taking a significant block of time out to volunteer, travel, work, intern, learn a foreign language or just follow a passion or interest.

We believe that gap experiences have the greatest impact if planned and undertaken before, or during the early stages of a an undergraduate college degree.

We believe that the benefits of taking a gap, and the acceptance of the concept are gaining momentum across a wider spectrum, and that this trend will continue.

We believe that taking gap year before, or during, college is within reach of many more students than are currently participating, and any high school graduate who is motivated to research options, identify programs, develop a plan to pay, and gain support from parents, family and friends can make their dream of time out a reality.

Our vision is that one day, the admissions policies at all US colleges and universities will openly encourage a gap year for all admitted students, and that both federal financial aid and private scholarship resources will be made available to fund these experiences much like the "core" requirements of anyone seeking a higher education.

What We Do

We provide free on-line information and resources for planning a gap year or time off, primarily targeted to US students aged 18 to 24. We understand the complicated decisions that students and parents navigate in the transition from high school to college, and beyond, and when a gap year may be most appropriate.

The Planet Gap Year database of Gap Year Programs provides a platform for both structured gap year organizations (and those offering gap year opportunities) to advertise to a broad audience of people searching the internet for gap year information and programming.

The Planet Gap Year Blog facilitates a forum for US students who are on, or who have recently returned from a gap year to share their experiences.

Gap Year Stories features stories written by US students who have taken a gap year, and who wish to share the benefits of their experience, and encourage other US students to follow them.