THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
very year, senior
and beyond. For
some that might mean prepar-
ing for college or finding a job.
For others it means taking a
close look at nontraditional
options. One option that is gain-
ing popularity (to the tune of a20-percent increase since 2006, according to Forbes.com) is tak
ing a gap year.
Often taken between
graduating from high school and
starting college, gap years are largely
used to help students define a plan for
personal success. While gap years have
long been a common practice for stu-
dents in Europe and Australia, available
information indicates that the notion of
Marybeth Hunter is an education and youth specialist in the State Department’s Family
in deferring their attendance to
college and completing intern-
ships, traveling or volunteering
abroad. The results are impres-
sive. In fact, a recent article inU.S. News & World Report
gap-year students (affectionately
known as “gappers”) with better
performance and a better sense
of purpose in their studies than
their non-gapper peers.
Worldwide prevalence and
encouraging facts aside, families
in the foreign affairs com-
munity might still be wonder-
ing—how might taking a gap
year help a Foreign Service
student succeed? To help answer that
question, the Family Liaison Office’s
education and youth team interviewed
Foreign Service gap-year student Brooke
Coskuner, daughter of State Department
FSO Melissa Coskuner, asking her some
thought-provoking questions regard-
ing her recent gap-year experience in
seeking an enriching experience by tak-
ing a semester or year-long break from
academics has gained popularity in the
United States during the last 10 years.
Several universities have developed
service-based programs for accepted,
incoming first-year students interested
Gap years are becoming more popular in the United States as a transition to college.
Here’s one Foreign Service student’s experience.
BY MARYBETH HUNTER
One FS Student’s
On a typical day at one campsite, gap-year students help
with construction work in a village.