Monday, December 31, 2018
Freshmen Experience World Before Moving On Campus
What do Prince William, Prince Harry and Malia Obama have in common? They all did a “gap year” before heading to college. Their activities during this year included travel to Australia, Africa, Lesotho, Belize, Chile, Bolivia and Peru. Taking a year to travel, pursue academic (or non-academic) interests, and delve into volunteer work before settling into college is not a new concept. But, often, this is a luxury for children of wealthy families as it costs considerable money to support oneself, even while pursuing noble causes.
Colleges are now looking to expand the gap year opportunity to students of lesser means. Duke University, this year, sponsored a few dozen students who presented compelling gap year plans. The money came from a half-million-dollar donation by a couple of philanthropists (who happen to have a daughter attending Duke) who plan to ultimately contribute $10 million to permanently endow the Duke gap year program. The couple also has a son who attends the University of Pennsylvania where they have made a comparable offer.
Similar programs are already in existence at Princeton, Tufts, University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, and Florida State University. Incoming freshmen at these universities can get financial support to defer their enrollment for a year to travel, do volunteer work, or pursue other passions. Princeton’s “Bridge Year” program, for example, has been around for ten years and currently supports 38 students who are immersed in service projects in China, India, Indonesia, Senegal and Bolivia.
College-bound students who do not have the opportunity to do a gap year may still be able to travel internationally and immerse themselves in a unique culture before moving onto their college campus. There are many colleges that offer their incoming freshmen the chance to do a study abroad semester, or year, abroad. Typically, these students are billed the same room/board and tuition rates as they would pay if living on their college’s main campus.
Liberal studies students headed to New York University (NYU), for example, can start their studies in Florence, London or Paris. Students bound for Syracuse University can spend their inaugural semester in Florence, Madrid, or Strasbourg.
Incoming freshmen at Marist College can embark on their studies in Florence or Dublin.
Some college-bound students these days not only get to choose the school they will attend, but also the foreign country that they will explore.
Susan Alaimo is the founder of SAT Smart. For the past 25 years, SAT Smart’s Ivy League educated tutors have prepared students for the PSAT, SAT, ACT, Subject Tests, AP courses, and all high school subjects. Visit www.SATsmart.com or call 908-369-5362.