Abroad: Home of Change

At Tufts University, 50 incoming freshmen are asked to indulge in their post-high school wanderlust. This fall, those selected few will get their travel costs, living expenses, and visa fees completely covered by the 1+4 program. The students have to travel to preselected sites as well as keep in contact with an academic counselor.

In addition, the students participate in volunteer opportunities and educational programs. I think this is a fantastic idea that more universities should offer. This unique program gives students the opportunity to experience the world before they decide on what to study.

College is this wonderful limbo between adolescence and adulthood. We experience a massive amount of freedom with a dollop of responsibilities. Everyone talks about how it is the best time in your life and you make incredible memories. Though those statements are valid, they leave out the giant wave of anxiety felt when deciding what major to study, which inevitably can turn in to your career choice for the rest of your life.

Daunting and ever changing, deciding ultimately what you want to do with your life is a lot of pressure and it is my belief that Tufts is definitely taking a step in the right direction to calm those anxieties, for a while at least. What’s fantastic about traveling abroad is learning about so many different cultures and ways of life. Those world experiences can potentially change the way you look at your life and what you take for granted depending on where you go.

Studying abroad has the power to make you realize that you are just a little fish in a very, very big pond. It makes you think about more than just yourself and how your decisions can ultimately affect people on the other side of the globe.

We focus too much on book knowledge and regurgitating information that we sometimes forget that being socially educated is sometimes just as or more important. The program has the potential to open the eyes of young people before they go to college to have the conviction to become active global citizens in their communities. They can experience situations and see conditions that didn’t even exist in that person’s world before.

This gap year program can give more students an opportunity to, as cliché as it sounds, find themselves, have a year to explore their interests and give a few fields a trial run. Having to decide where to spend the next four or more years of your life in college is daunting enough as a graduating high school student. This program gives the young adults a little bit of breathing room. They are able to take a year off, while still staying sort of on track with their education and giving them a chance to really reflect and make an educated decision about what to study and more importantly, hopefully be able to answer the question of why they are studying it.

Tufts is making a game changing move by starting this program and I sincerely hope to see more universities follow suit. I did mention that the program has some incredible potential if the right type of mind is enrolled in it. Students can try things and become molded by those understandings and have an overwhelmingly life changing experience.

However, there are two sides to this argument as always. The flipside is that this program gets taken for granted and ultimately shut down because students were using it as an opportunity to drink underage and strut around Europe without a care in the world. Those events can teach some valuable life lessons, like something about beer before liquor, but that’s not ideally what a board of education is going to want to fund.

My final stance is that 1+4 has the capacity to change the next generation of incoming college freshmen, but hopefully this valued budding involvement is treated as such.

 

Jacqueline Rosenberg is a second year cognitive science major and can be contacted at jrosenb1@uci.edu.