Considering a bridge year

What will I gain from participating in Tufts 1+4?
Tufts anticipates that this experience will have multiple positive impacts on Bridge-Year Fellows. A comprehensive article from the American Gap Association has collected studies and data on gap year participants from around the world; particularly illuminating are the lists of academic and personal benefits. Although parents may feel concerned about students adding an additional year before college graduation or deferring traditional academics for a year, studies have shown this year actually increases academic performance in college, as well as motivation and direction. Through this program Tufts 1+4 fellows can gain maturity, confidence, and problem solving skills as well as experience that will help them succeed in college and beyond including working well with others, foreign language skills, and hands-on community work.

We encourage you to review the research and literature around gap years to learn more about what these experiences can offer. Here are a few links to get started:

What is the difference between Tufts 1+4  and a traditional gap year?
Traditionally, a gap year is conceived as a “break” between high school and college. Tufts 1+4 is a bridge year, spanning the high school experience with the academic and career goals of college. It also builds upon the developmental growth in that time frame: supporting personal reflection, exploring potential as an active citizen in society, and building connections between theory and practice. While gap years predominantly focus on travel and may also include some volunteer service, the Tufts 1+4 Bridge-Year Service Learning Program is a full-time service experience, with national and international placements that will both challenge fellows and provide them with support that allows for optimum growth and impact. Finally, Tufts 1+4 fellows have the unique opportunity to spend their bridge year connected to a cohort of peers with whom they will also share their undergraduate career.

By completing a bridge year through Tufts, Tufts 1+4 fellows receive additional layers of support, including dedicated Tufts 1+4 staff at Tisch College. In addition to their site-specific orientation, Fellows also attend an on-campus orientation prior to departure that will serve as a foundation for best practices, build a network among all Fellows, and connect them to the values of Tufts. At the end of their service, Fellows will return to the Tufts campus for a retreat to reconnect in person, share experiences, and discuss ways to build upon their bridge year once they matriculate at Tufts. There will be multiple opportunities for fellows on campus to scaffold their experiences, serve as leaders, and continue involvement with Tisch College.

Program Details

Do all programs/service sites follow the same structure?
Each program is unique, reflecting the distinctive character and specific community needs of that location. Please read each site and placement description carefully to understand the structure of each opportunity, including the service calendar which varies between programs. All of our programs are part of Tufts 1+4 and share features including pre-departure orientation, ongoing support from the Tufts 1+4 staff, enrollment in a Tufts University course, and a post-service capstone retreat during your fall semester at Tufts.

What are homestays like?
Most homestays are in modest dwellings in rural, semi-rural, or urban areas. They provide a safe, clean, and supportive living environment while allowing the Bridge-Year Fellow to have an immersive cultural experience with a host family. Homestay families and locations are carefully selected and vetted by placement organizations. Host families receive training and support throughout their experience.

Are there holiday breaks during the program?
Most placement sites will be closed over local holidays, giving Fellows the opportunity to experience local customs and celebrations. Over the winter holidays, many placements close for a week or more. During this time, international Fellows are encouraged to spend time with their host families and to further explore their host community. Fellows may also pursue independent travel during this time.  Global Citizen Year Fellows in Brazil and India do not have the option to return home over the holiday break. We support this policy, and strongly encourage all Fellows to continue their immersive experience for the duration of the Bridge-Year, however Fellows in Ecuador and Nicaragua may submit a written request to return home over the holidays should they have specific circumstances that support this decision.

Will there be an orientation?
Yes. All Fellows will come to Tufts for an on-campus orientation before the beginning of their service year. The orientation will provide an opportunity for team building, growing a supportive network of Fellows that will be sustained through virtual connections. Fellows will be introduced to the core Tufts values of civic engagement, including cultural humility, respect for community assets, and strategies for successful collaboration. The orientation will also cover logistic issues such as personal safety and well-being and conduct expectations.

Each placement site will also hold its own orientation as well; for international sites, this will include language classes and an introduction to the cultural norms and heritage of that site. Tufts 1+4 City Year Fellows will attend City Year’s Basic Training Academy where they will prepare for the year ahead, and learn about City Year’s mission, culture and values.

How does the Tufts 1+4 experience continue after the year of service?
During the fall of their first semester as Tufts students, Fellows will participate in a weekend retreat where they will reflect upon their experiences and the transition to college. Regular meetings, workshops, academic opportunities, and other events will equip participants to build on their service year and become campus leaders.

What academic credit is available?
During their service, Bridge-Year Fellows will be enrolled in a Tufts University blended writing course designed to integrate their service with academics, and facilitate reflection upon their experiences.

The Tufts 1+4 Application & Costs

Who can apply to Tufts 1+4?
Students admitted to Tufts University are eligible to participate in Tufts 1+4. Non-U.S. citizens are only eligible for international service locations, and acceptance is contingent upon their ability to secure a visa to the U.S. for Orientation (and in the case of Brazil and India, Post-Service Retreat training), as well as a long-term visa to their service location. DACA and undocumented students who are interested in our program are encouraged to contact the Associate Dean for Student Success and Advising, Rob Mack.

When should I apply to Tufts 1+4?
Applicants may apply to the program along with their application to Tufts University, or after receiving their Tufts acceptance letter. Please visit the Application Process page for detailed instructions.

Can I receive financial support for Tufts 1+4?
Tufts 1+4 provides need-based support for accepted fellows, including full support for students who qualify for Tufts financial aid. There is also assistance available to students who are admitted to 1+4, but for whom the cost of the program is prohibitive. Tufts wants the 1+4 experience to be available to all students, regardless of financial circumstances

Are transportation costs included?
Some sites offer public transportation passes or subsidized transportation options, while in others Fellows can walk to and from their placement or use their monthly stipend to cover local transportation costs.

If you have any other questions, please contact us at Tufts1plus4@tufts.edu .