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THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL

|

JUNE 2015

97

E

very year, senior

high school

students world-

wide prepare

for graduation

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 a

20-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

Liaison Office.

in deferring their attendance to

college and completing intern-

ships, traveling or volunteering

abroad. The results are impres-

sive. In fact, a recent article in

U.S. News & World Report

credits

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

Kenya.

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

Gap Happy:

One FS Student’s

Experience

On a typical day at one campsite, gap-year students help

with construction work in a village.

COURTESYOFBROOKECOSKUNER