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Dean of Students

Gap year a beneficial option

Graduating high school can be a relieving experience.  It almost seemed like it would never happen.  Between trying to find yourself, make friends and good grades, it could have been a stressful time.  Because of this, many students choose to take a gap year before starting college so they can figure out who they are, or discover that one thing that really captures them.

Taking a gap year can be extremely expensive depending on what the student chooses to do.  One might want to travel or live in different country, which can add up.  However, there is one university that understands this problem and wants to help students who do choose to take a gap year.

According to a USA Today College article, Tufts University in Medford, Mass., has a program that will begin this fall where they will pay incoming students who choose to take a gap year.  It is called Tufts 1+4 and the goal is try to take away the financial stress of it all.

What the program will do is pay for their housing, airfare and visa fees since there are many students with lower income families who cannot afford to take a gap year.  The students though, must check in with the University via video chat and email throughout the year.

According to the Tufts.edu website, “Tufts 1+4 will offer interested students who have been accepted for undergraduate admission the option for a transformational experience of national or global service that will also include academic content and teaching of civic and leadership skills.”

This seems like a smart idea by the University because the students will be able to find themselves outside of a classroom setting, but then still be committed to coming back to the school the next year.  So many students think about a gap year but then don’t do it because they know it will cost too much money or are afraid they won’t be motivated enough to go back.

However, with Tufts 1+4, the students are connected with the University their entire experience and get to discover the world and what interests them most.  It would be great to see if more universities could offer programs such as this.
“Through this unique experience, young people will develop their abilities and passions in ways that will strengthen their studies and experiences at Tufts, as well as their personal and professional trajectories. They will contribute in significant ways to solving pressing social problems while making discoveries about themselves and diverse societies,” Tufts Provost David R. Harris said.

Since not all universities do offer this, there are other ways to find a similar experience through college.  Illinois State University offers volunteer programs which are not too pricey.  For example, Alternative Breaks volunteer in many different parts of the country over the course of a week.  According to their website, they have helped Hurricane Katrina victims, tutored teenage refugees, served individuals with HIV/AIDS and more.

There are also study abroad programs where students can travel to a different country and spend an entire semester there.  This can be costly, however, ISU offers several ways to help students make this trip fun and affordable.

If you did not get to take a gap year off and wanted to, take advantage of these fantastic opportunities ISU offers because it really can help a person with discovering the kind of person they are, as well as the person they want to be.

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