Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The News From Old Nassau...

...where all the children are above average.

As an alum, news about Princeton in the New York Times never fails to catch your eye. Princeton recently announced that they would be offering what they call a "bridge year" program for incoming freshman. The students, up to 10% of the incoming class when the plan is fully implemented, would spend the year doing service work abroad.

The program would be a formalization of what many Princeton students already choose to do on their own; several of my friends have done this, either between high school and college or between two choice years during school.

I think this is a brilliant plan. What a great way to offer some perspective on your four years of college and inspire you to use every last opportunity you can while you are there.

Two caveats, however:

- I'm wary of just how formal and structured it will be - after all, I'd say most of the benefits that my friends reaped when they had similar adventures came from the fact that they were fending for themselves. There is already a culture of study abroad, as this commenter points out. I agree with his statement though I wouldn't go so far as to call it "an improved version of summer camp."

- When I was graduating (Spring 2007) there was a bit of a Cold War going on between the administration and the eating clubs. Shirley T. would never admit this, but I'd say this program aids her cause quite a bit. I said above that it's a great way to gain perspective; no doubt part of that perspective will result in a greater aversion to drinking away the best seven years of your life at TI or the Street in general.

That first caveat is part of something that's been rolling around in my head for a little while now, namely the whole concept of pre-defined structure and how it can be good and bad. Maybe that will my next post - or maybe it will be a book review for The Unbearable Lightness of Being, which I've almost finished and which has apparently been scanned by Google.

For now I'm out to take one last look at the lunar eclipse.


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