Elise Amendola/AP Photo
Tufts University is launching a new program this fall to help students take a "gap year." The "gap year" is usually a done after high school when students take a year off before college to travel, work or volunteer.
The Tufts 1 + 4 bridge year program, run through the university's Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service, will give students a year of full-time national or international service before beginning college.
"We believe the generation of students we are educating today really wants to be part of something bigger than themselves and they want to be part of solving social problems in a really practical way," Alan D. Solomont, dean of Tisch College, told Boston.com.
The program will begin in the fall of 2015 and will be available to students admitted to the university who indicate they are interested in participating.
According to Tufts Now:
Undergraduates applying for the fall of 2015 will be asked to write an additional essay to be considered for Tufts 1+4. Participants will come to campus that summer for orientation, training and team-building activities before heading off to their assignments in the U.S. and abroad.
Since finances often dictate whether students take a gap or bridge year, it is typically only within reach for more affluent students. Tufts is looking to make the program available to students regardless of their financial situation.
"We will be looking for students who we think will get the maximum benefits from participating in this program," Solomont said. "We'd like a cross-section of students, and will certainly be looking for diversity across gender, socioeconomic status, and background."
The program will cover housing, airfare, and even visa fees for students. Solomont said the university estimates the program will costs about $15,000 to $20,000 per participant. Those selected for the program can defer their admission for a year, but will still be connected to the university since the bridge year will be integrated into their academic experience. Organizations such as Global Citizen Year, City Year and Lift, which offer volunteer positions, will partner with the school to create packages for students.
The aim of the program is to give students a transformative experience that will challenge them and expose them to new ideas and new communities beyond the bubble of where they grew up and beyond the Tufts community.
"The research indicates that the students who have this kind of experience tend to do better in school and have a higher completion rate," Solomont said. "We expect these student will be coming to Tufts with leadership skills and will be able to be role models."
Though more common in Europe, the number of students taking gap years in the United States has increased in recent years, according to the Associated Press.
Sixty percent of students who took a gap year between 1997 and 2006 said the time away felt more definitive about their career path or academic major, according to the American Gap Association. Another 2011 survey by the organization found that many gap year students had better grades overall than they would have without taking the year off.
"We hope it will be enriching in a way that the typical freshman year is not and that it will be enriching for the remaining four years and will improve their career prospects as well," Solomont said.
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