Day In the Life of a TBB Gap Year Student

We’re often asked how TBB is different from the other gap year programs available to students. So, here it is: We’re searchers. As students and Program Leaders, we live and work with local experts in communities around the world, seeking understanding of critical global issues and a vision for meaningful solutions to these problems.

What does that look and sound like? Here’s Emma Rockenbeck (TBB Global Gap Year Class of ’14) in Jaipur, India learning about education:

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The Power of Gap Year Mentors

This is a guest blog post from Amanda Payne, a former TBB Program Leader. She led the Global Gap Year program for 2 years and has now joined our US staff to support student recruitment and programming.

I struggled in college to find my way, mostly alone, scared and lost. It’s sad to think that when I graduated I was no closer to finding direction than I was when I started. After graduation I moved back home and vacillated between following a more conventional path supported by my parents that involved a cubicle and a more adventurous path that involved taking off to see the world as a Peace Corps volunteer. I was struggling to make this decision when I happened to see my cousin Lee at a family gathering. She whispered the most basic and simple piece of advice when she hugged me goodbye: “Follow your heart.”

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5 Developmental Needs Gap Years Meet that Colleges Don’t

The transition to college is a lot like the transition to middle school. There are enormous developmental changes happening within students — cognitive, social, emotional — at the same time that they are challenged with a dynamic new social and academic scene. As anyone who has been to a middle school can attest, ensuring students learn and grow in productive ways requires intentional support to meet their developmental needs.

Generally, colleges don’t do a great job of this. Gap year programs do. Continue reading

Pity is Poison

This is a guest post from Emma Rockenbeck, a current TBB Global Gap Year student. 

One of the first times we met above the glass tables in the IDEX basement our program
leader Jessie told us something that changed my life. It may be hard to hear, but I feel the
need to share the insight she gave to us with the world.

It was a bright sunny morning in the desert city of Jaipur, and we were about to go visit
the slums in which we would teach for the next few weeks. It was cold in the basement as
we took our places around the table, laughing and joking. Jessie clasped her hands
briskly in front of her, and her big blue eyes regarded each of us in turn. Stern, impassive. Continue reading

Gap Years Succeed Where High Schools Fail

In a recent post, I shared that one of the great outcomes of intentional gap years is that they develop in students a sense of purpose for their higher ed and professional careers. Take a look at research we’ve done at Thinking Beyond Borders that shows this. Because of this impact, I posit that gap years are a critical intervention to improve learning and growth for college students. Continue reading

Dealing with Person Mouth

The following is a guest blog from Chris Morales, a TBB Program Leader for the Global Gap Year

I have been asked periodically why we, the sixteen students and three program leaders traveling around the world together as a gap year program, study what we do in the specific countries we find ourselves. In this blog, I attempt to make it clear why we are studying sustainable agriculture in China, of all places, and give a bit of insight into some of the discussions we are having. Continue reading

The Value of the Gap Year

The gap year has become a hot topic in college transitions. The New York Times, Time Magazine, Forbes, MSNBC, and countless other media outlets have covered this growing trend. They highlight exciting travels, community service, and research showing gap years can improve college GPA’s and develop important learning capacities. But, the stories tend to fall short of identifying why gap years are becoming more popular. Continue reading

Reflections from a Gap Year Program Leader

This is a guest blog post from Amanda Payne, a former TBB Program Leader. She led the Global Gap Year program for 2 years and has now joined our US staff to support student recruitment and programming.

“Because TBB does learning in non-traditional settings and places it encourages you to look at every space and person as a teacher.” Katherine Abrams ‘13

When I reflect on my time as a Program Leader with TBB and on how my students’ ideas of learning changed over the course of their TBB gap year program, I’m reminded of one of my favorite author’s, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, TEDtalk called the Dangers of a Single Story. Continue reading

Gap Years are for Parents, Too

This is a guest post from a TBB parent, Laurie Rockenbeck. You can find the original of this post and more of her thoughts at her blog, 1,000 Words a Day.

I can go on and on about what we hoped for Emma while she was on her gap year, but I hadn’t really thought much about what it would be like for me. Her mom. She hasn’t called me “Mommy” in years. While I’ve never thought of myself as a clingy, helicopter parent, I’m realizing how much I was involved in her daily business and how much I did for her. My primary focus is as a stay-at-home mom. Yes, I’m a writer, but that comes second to my family and my ‘job’ as mom, wife, chef, chauffeur, tutor, laundress, book-keeper, scheduler, and valet.

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Questions & Next Steps in Gap Year Assessment

This is the fifth and final post in a series by Andrea Canuel and Robin Pendoley presenting the outcomes of Thinking Beyond Borders’ first impact assessment (here are posts #1, #2, #3, and #4). The outcomes and analysis presented here are written for a broad audience. For a deeper look into the study, you can download it in its entirety.

We’re proud of the impact of our gap year programs on the lives of our students. Why does this matter? Our theory of change states that if TBB programs help students develop a sense of purpose and direction rooted in justice and equity, they will better leverage opportunities higher ed and their careers offer to create social impact. Additionally, if we can help students develop higher order empathy and their capacities as powerful learners, they will create meaningful social impact throughout their lives. This impact assessment demonstrates that we have successfully developed these capacities — the same ones that made great social impact leaders so effective — in high potential students. Continue reading