Most students transition smoothly from high school to college, following a path defined by countless graduates before them. More and more, however, take what is called a gap or bridge year. Even Malia Obama is doing it! The extra time–which teens typically fill with work, travel, or service–delivers a variety of benefits, from time to recharge from a rigorous high school career to space to figure out their futures.
One program that takes the gap year to the next level is the Global Citizen Year. The Global Citizen Year serves as “an international immersion designed to give high school graduates perspective, confidence and purpose prior to college.” What makes this offering different from others?
A break from routine
High school graduates are entering college underprepared, families are questioning their return on investment, and colleges are facing growing concerns about relevance. Today, anxiety and depression among college freshmen are at an all time high and America has the highest college dropout rate in the developed world. And for those who make it through, many emerge unable to meet the demands of today’s professional world and global economy.
Not a traditional gap year
The gap year has traditionally been viewed as a luxury reserved for privileged kids or remediation for those who are somehow “off-track.” In contrast, the notion of a bridge year conveys an intentional transition from one life stage to the next. Crossing a bridge is a better metaphor than falling into a gap; and, with the right design, the bridge becomes a launching pad for a lifetime of leadership.
Building tomorrow’s leaders
We can do better for our students by designing, delivering and normalizing a new educational path. A path that uses real world experience to unlock passion, potential and purpose. Each year we select a talented and diverse corps of Fellows and support them through a transformational bridge year after high school in communities across Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Through world-class training and structured immersion we equip Fellows with global skills, empathy, and grit — the foundations for success in college, careers, and life.
Gap year programs like Global Citizen Year aren’t just good for the soul… they’re good for grades. Researchers find that, once these students attend school, taking a gap year had a significant positive impact on students’ academic performance in college. Rumors even abound that a particularly impressive gap year can open doors to more elite colleges. So if the thought of moving directly from one school to another fills you with dread instead of excitement, consider what kind of year you’d rather have. Maybe you’ll become another Global Citizen.