Want a project-based interdisciplinary education that will help you develop 21st century skills?

Try a gap year.

As a recent NPR story by Kirk Carapezza reports:

The idea of a gap here, postponing the start of college, has become a bit more common in the U.S. and a handful of colleges and universities are now actually encouraging accepted students to take a year break before starting classes.

And as you would expect, the results for students are pretty powerful.

Check out this reflection from a Huff Post article by gapper Joan Hanawi who spent the year before college in Ecuadorian Amazon apprenticing under development leaders from the German International Cooperation.

My experiences abroad have cemented within me a personal desire to positively impact the lives of those around me. However, I think that international development work is a gallingly delicate and complex field due to the fact that your work is not composed of abstract facts and figures, but of relationships and communities. And these relationships and communities are formed by real people whose lives are not equivalent to playing pieces on a game board.

Now that’s an innovative education!

So gap year gets an A plus from us for sure.   It also eaves us wondering:  If gap years give young people the edge in our demanding world, how to make sure they aren’t an option for only the economically fortunate?

Here’s some good news:

More and more elite schools are packaging gap years. Princeton and UNC-Chapel Hill, for example, have started to offer fully subsidized service programs so that more low-income students can get similar experiences to their affluent peers.

Good news, but we are going to need a lot more support to avoid the gap year gap.

Have a great Friday!