Gap-years have previously felt reserved for affluent students who can probably afford a year of traveling across the world.
In an effort to make the gap-year accessible to students of all backgrounds, colleges across the country are offering financial assistance to incoming freshmen who want to take off for a year. Admitted students at several colleges including Florida State University, Tufts University, Princeton University and most recently, Duke University, provide students with the financial aid they might need to postpone their enrollment to travel and volunteer before heading into academia.
Proponents of the gap year say it gives students the time to grow, reflect and learn more about themselves. Research also shows that students who participate in a gap-year tend to graduate earlier and have higher GPAs.
Regardless of the benefits, finances often hinder students from reveling in wanderlust. So how might these programs help make a year abroad more accessible to all students, despite their socio-economic backgrounds? Should all colleges provide financial assistance to students who want to defer college for a year? After a gap-year, what effect does it have on students once they return to college? And if you’re someone who took a gap-year, what was your experience?
Christoph Guttentag, undergraduate admissions dean at Duke University; he tweets @DukeAdmissDean