American colleges offering to pay students to take a year off
Lydia Collins looks out from her dorm building at Tufts University in Medford, Mass. Collins spent the year after high school working in Ecuador through Global Citizen. (Elise Amendola/Associated Press)
MEDFORD, Mass. Colleges are paying students to take a year off after high school to travel, volunteer or do internships so that students of all income brackets can benefit from years. new program at Tufts University and existing ones at a handful of other schools aim to remove the financial barriers that can keep cash strapped students from exploring different communities and challenge their comfort zones before jumping right into college.
Although gap years are more popular in Europe, they have started to gain traction in the United States. About 40,000 Americans participated in gap year programs in 2013, an increase of nearly 20 percent since 2006, according to data gathered by a nonprofit called the American Gap Year Association.
In 2009, Princeton University began offering applicants gap year aid based on need. Nearly 100 students have participated, volunteering in Brazil, China, India, Peru and Senegal.
The University of North Carolina offers $7,500 to gap year applicants, while students at Wisconsin’s St. Norbert College can Burberry Outlet receive financial aid based on need, althoug Burberry Outlet h airfare isn’t covered.
Lydia Collins, a 19 year old Tufts freshman from Evanston, Ill., said she took a gap year because she wanted to see what was outside of the classroom before committing to four more years of school.
lot of kids are very burnt out afte Burberry Outlet r high school, Collins said. this time to be with yourself and see yourself in a new community and light will only help you to succeed in college. worked in microfinance in Ecuador through the poverty fighting group Global Citizen and said the experience inspired her to pursue international relations, something she would not have known about beforehand.
Students who take part are able to see the world beyond the bubble they grew up in and return to school with a better perspective of their future, said Holly Bull, president of the Center of Interim Programs, which counsels students on taking gap years. Bull said the benefit of the structured time away from school is too valuable to exclude lower income students.
return to the classroom more focused, independent and confident, said Bull, who took a gap year herself to Hawaii and Greece. She said the students also tend to have less trouble adjusting to dorm life.
experience taught me that everything I learn in the classroom will be able to help me when I leave Princeton, Rotblat said. is easy at times to question the purpose behind all the school work. But seeing the value firsthand encourages me to push myself academically. selected for Tufts’ 1+4 program will be able to defer their admission for a year while still remaining tied to the university through video chat and email. Tufts is planning to work with organizations including Global Citizen, City Year and Lift which offer volunteering positions in areas such as education, economics, health and the environment to create packages that fit students’ financial needs, including travel and living costs.
Patrick Callan, founding president of the Na Burberry Outlet tional Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, applauds the gap year experience but said structure is key.
for less motivated students, taking a year off could lead to them never coming back, he said, adding that students that go in without concrete goals can be sidetracked from their studies. need to come in having a plan. Collins, working in a foreign country away from her family and friends was a reality check.