Princeton Considers a Year Abroad

In today’s New York Times Karen E. Arenson reported that Princeton University is “working to create a program to send a tenth or more of its newly admitted students to a year of social service work in a foreign country before they set foot on campus as freshmen.”

Princeton’s President Dr. Shirley Tilghman “said that she hoped to begin the program in 2009 and that Princeton would not charge tuition for the year abroad, and would even offer financial assistance to those who needed it.”

Princeton officials hope that it will entice service minded students, and those interested in taking a gap year (a year off) before starting college.

Similarly, Brian McNeil of the Daily Progress reported that the University of Virginia is concocting something called the “Jefferson Track.” According to McNeil UVA officials are “considering a public service track in which first-year students would identify a problem in society – anywhere from Charlottesville to Uganda – and then lead a team of three to 10 classmates to tackle the issue over the next four years.”

It looks like public service is the “next big thing” in higher education. I think it’s great. On a similar note many countries around the world require mandatory military education before higher education. This mandatory year (or two) of service helps young adults mature and develop a global perspective. Maybe the U.S. is finally catching on…


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