High school graduates may be better served by taking a year off after graduation for an intense immersion experience in a country of their choosing instead of diving straight into college.
Too often students rush from high school to college and don’t seriously contemplate taking some time to grow in other directions. My response to students who would thrive in such an experience but feel compelled to race off to college with their peers is questioning what they would really lose if they started college a year later. In fact, students that go abroad for year often end up acquiring a second language and culture, and more importantly, calling a new place home.
American Field Service (AFS), perhaps the most well-respected and distinguished study abroad program, has been an integral part of bridging youth from the Milwaukee area with youth from all over the globe. It was born as a result of WWI and WWII. The idea spawned from a group of volunteer ambulance drivers that were tired of the carnage and atrocity of war. They thought that the only way to avoid future conflict was to get youth from all over the world to live in and experience other countries. Over sixty years later AFS continues advancing its mission with the help of a strong cadre of volunteers and dedicated teachers.