In the May 12th episode of “Getting In: A College Coach Conversation,” guest host Ian Fisher welcomed three unique perspectives to discuss three very different topics.
Should I Take a Gap Year?
Earlier this month, Malia Obama announced that she’ll be taking a gap year before heading off to college, thus sparking many people to ask, “What is a gap year and should I also consider taking one?” College Coach admissions expert Kara Courtois joined Ian to discuss what a gap year is and the many reasons why a student might choose to take one.
In many countries students take a gap year, or a year off, after completing high school before heading to college. The United States remains the exception to this trend, with the gap year viewed as an opportunity available only to the wealthiest students.
Currently, there are a handful of colleges who have established programs designed to fund a limited number of students and remove the financial barriers typically associated with a gap year. Princeton and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill were two early adopters of this type of program. In mid-March of this year, Tufts University announced a new one plus four program, which offers national and international service opportunities for participating students. The Tufts program will be sponsored by the university and is open to all students regardless of financial need.
I was really pleased to hear Tufts University’s announcement that they will be offering a funded gap year program for students. As someone who deferred college for a year to attend a Youth For Understanding (YFU) program in Belgium and benefitted enormously from the experience, I’ve never understood why more U.S. students don’t take gap years.
While many students can’t afford it, which makes Tufts plan to pay students to go abroad all the more exciting, students whose families have the financial means also choose not to go. When I’ve talked to students who are interested in international politics, cultures outside of the U.S., and foreign languages—students who I would think would be very interested in learning more about another country by immersing themselves in the culture—they often say that they don’t want to be “behind.” I think this means they feel that as their peers go off to college and start on the next phase of their lives, they will somehow be left out of that very important experience.