Tufts University Offers Public Service Abroad Program to Incoming Students

Travel the globe

March 18, 2014

Imagine taking a full year off before college to travel the world. Now imagine effectively getting paid to do it, knowing a spot at a prestigious university will be waiting for you when you return. This is precisely what a new program at Tufts University will offer dozens of new students, reports The University Herald, an experience only a handful of U.S. colleges provide.

The new Tufts program, dubbed "4+1," will allow incoming freshman to take a year to travel, most expenses paid, in exchange for public service. The University will offer students roughly $30,000 to cover housing, airfare and visa fees. After completing a year of community service with organizations like the Global Citizen Year and City Year, students will return to Massachusetts to begin studies as usual.

"The idea behind the program is to give incoming students a transformational experience that will inform the next four years of their education," Alan D. Solomont, dean of Tufts' Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service, told Reuters.

According to The Boston Globe, 4+1 participants will attend an on-campus orientation before heading overseas to study civic and leadership skills in addition to other academic content. Once the trip is complete, students will return to Tufts to reflect on the experience before beginning traditional classes. About 50 students can participate in the program initially, but the University hopes to expand the program over time. Partnerships with many civic service organizations are still in the works.

Reuters reports that while these aid-structured programs are popular in Europe, only a handful of U.S. universities offer them, Princeton University and the University of North Carolina among them. Data from the American Gap Year Association suggests that about 40,000 Americans signed up for such programs in 2013, an increase from about 32,000 in 2006, but not a particularly large share overall. Study abroad programs are much more common stateside, but tend to be costly. The new program at Tufts will allow cash-strapped students already battling sky-high tuition to get the same experience for a fraction of the cost, all while getting an education and representing Tufts in a positive way.

"This program aligns perfectly with Tufts University's historic commitment to innovative and active engagement in the world, and with our mission of providing our students with an education that can truly change their lives and the lives of others," University President Anthony P. Monaco said in a statement acquired by The Boston Globe last month. "We hope it will inspire students to use their talents to contribute to the world around them."

The University Herald describes Tufts as one of the most highly regarded private research institutions in the country with an acceptance rate of just 21 percent.

Compiled by Aimee Hosler


"New Tufts Program will have incoming students spend a year doing service before starting 4-year college studies," boston.com, February 19, 2014 Matt Rocheleau, http://www.boston.com/yourcampus/news/tufts/2014/02/new_tufts_program_will_have_incoming_students_spend_a_year_doing_service_before_starting_4-year_coll.html

"Tufts University offers financial aid for students' year off," reuters.com, March 15, 2014, http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/03/15/us-usa-tufts-gapyear-idUSBREA2E0OH20140315

"Tuft University's '4+1' Program Offers to Pay for a Gap Year For Incoming Freshman," universityherald.com, March 14, 2014, Russell Westerholm, http://www.universityherald.com/articles/8139/20140314/tufts-universitys-4-1-program-offers-to-pay-for-a-gap-year-for-incoming-freshmen.htm

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