The Freedom Year Trend Starts with the “Globals’ Generation Focuses On Experience”

Hopefully, the ‘Globals’ will push a change in corporate America.  Americans need to develop the so-called soft skills:  global mindset, culturally curious & intelligent, as well as speaking another language.

Someday, the talk at the water cooler won’t just be about leaving for maternity or for your MBA.  It will also be expected to take a Freedom Year (sabbatical) to travel, work, and volunteer abroad.

Go Globals!

Cheers

Anthony

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Globals’ Generation Focuses On Experience

by SAM SANDERS
(Original Article via NPR.com here)

Jennifer Larr (center), 24, is seen here in Rwanda at the Gashora Girls Academy where she was a teacher in 2011. Larr is part of a new generation of young adults focusing on travel, studying abroad and global experiences.

Courtesy of Jennifer LarrJennifer Larr (center), 24, is seen here in Rwanda at the Gashora Girls Academy where she was a teacher in 2011. Larr is part of a new generation of young adults focusing on travel, studying abroad and global experiences.

Jennifer Larr has the itch to go abroad. She’s 26 years old and has already spent a year studying in France and two years in Rwanda with the Peace Corps, and she is headed to Uganda this summer for an internship. She’s also a graduate student, studying international relations at UCLA.

Larr is part of a growing number of 20- and early 30-somethings whose American dream has moved beyond suburban homes and traditional nuclear families, and it’s one that now goes even beyond U.S. borders.

Larr and others like her are more likely than previous generations to live, study and work abroad. As they travel the world, they’re now abandoning some of the traditional tenets of the American dream that their parents held dear.

National pollster John Zogby has been chronicling this trend for years. His book The Way We’ll Be: The Zogby Report on the Transformation of the American Dream discusses some of the changes taking place in Larr’s generation. He has a name for young people like her: “first globals.”

They understand this idea of a shared fate, or a linked fate. That somehow, what happens to somebody in Mumbai may have an effect on me in West Los Angeles.
– Franklin Gilliam, dean, UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs

“Two out of three of them have passports,” Zogby says. “They are well-traveled; technologically they have networks that include people all over the world. They have a desire to be nimble, to go anywhere and to be anywhere. They also have a desire to change their world and feel like they’re in a position to do that.”

It’s a generation just as likely to watch the World Cup as it is the Super Bowl. It’s not, however, just the children of the wealthy and the educated, says Zogby. “This is expanding beyond the Wellesleys and the Stanfords,” he says. “It’s different now.”

There are a few reasons why. More than 270,000 students studied abroad in the 2009-2010 school year, according to the International Institute of Education. That number is three times what it was two decades earlier. At the same time, the Internet and social media have made every part of the world seem instantly accessible. America’s youth is just more diverse — and international — than ever.

On top of being globally minded, Zogby says, these first globals have a different perspective on the idea of ownership as a tenet of the American dream. They are putting less emphasis on accumulating traditional things like homes, cars and the types of families their parents had. Instead, they’re putting more energy into acquiring experience.

Larr, for instance, says she can do without the house and the kids.

“People will always rent you apartments wherever you go, [and] not every woman wants to have a child and be a mother, and be in the house all the time,” Larr says.

She could even do without the marriage.

“I’ve been in a really long-term relationship, and we’re really happy the way we are. We can be committed to each other without necessarily having someone approve it,” she says.

Zogby says that all of this is reflected in his research, and that much of what made older generations tick just doesn’t work for first globals.

“The permanence of owning things doesn’t exist,” Zogby says. “The permanence of living somewhere doesn’t exist. The permanence of getting a job and holding on to that job for the next 40 years doesn’t exist.”

For many of these first globals, the idea of public service is a common thread. La Mikia Castillo, 28, recently graduated from USC’s Price School of Public Policy. Her family is from the U.S. and Panama, and she has studied and traveled in Mexico, Costa Rica and Guatemala.

“My American dream is for other people to be able to achieve whatever they want to achieve,” Castillo says. “It’s not really about me and what I have as an individual. It’s about trying to make a difference around the world.”

Franklin Gilliam, dean of UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs, says dreams like Castillo’s represent a new way of seeing the world that’s become common among first globals.

“It’s a sea change in orientation,” Gilliam says. “They understand this idea of a shared fate, or a linked fate. That somehow, what happens to somebody in Mumbai may have an effect on me in West Los Angeles.”

Julia Capizzi, a 33-year-old recent USC graduate who is studying for the Foreign Service exam, agrees.

“The larger world beyond L.A., beyond Chicago and my immediate experiences is an extension of me,” Capizzi says. “So I feel an obligation to know what that is. Otherwise I feel like I’m walking around with blinders on.”

Capizzi also says her American dream is better than that of her parents, because she and people like her aren’t afraid to literally go anywhere to accomplish their goals.

“I think that my generation will be more fulfilled than my parents’ generation,” she says.

But she admits that she had to make some sacrifices to live the life of a first global. She doesn’t own a car or a house, and she says she would love to have already owned a house. There are a lot of different parts of her life, she says, that she’s had to come to peace with to pursue her goals.

In spite of any reservations, the Capizzis, Castillos and Larrs are here to stay, says Zogby, as is their new take on the American dream, and it may upend traditional ideas of family and citizenship as we now know it.

“[There are] going to be so many families out there where Papa’s in Singapore and Mama’s in Mauritius, and Baby is somewhere back and forth,” he says.

The question is, what will that baby’s dream be? And will it even be called American?

Correction July 10, 2012

The audio of this story, as did a previous Web version, incorrectly gives Jennifer Larr’s age as 24. She is 26.

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Gap Year: Congrats! You’re Accepted to College, Now Go Away

Anthony of FY Comments:  ” So, Take a Gap Year at 18 years old.  Retirement at 65 years old.  What about the 47 years in between ?  FREEDOM YEAR is the answer.  Age 25 – 40, 50, whatever.  I’m just saying that it is ridiculous to wait 47 years to dream, explore, travel, discover, and learn how the rest of the world really works.
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Travel makes Americans nervous, and we are suspicious of other cultures,” Rogers said. “But I think that’s changing and evolving, especially this generation, which is exploring the world more.”  —  Julia Rogers, director of Vermont-based EnRoute Consulting.

My theory is that students who have an opportunity to get off the treadmill do better.” —Robert Clagett, who has worked in admissions for both Harvard University and Middlebury Collegefor three decades, is a passionate convert.
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Gap Year: Congrats! You’re Accepted to College, Now Go Away

By SUSAN DONALDSON JAMES | Good Morning America
(GMA Article here)

Gap Year: Congrats! You're Accepted to College, Now Go Away (ABC News)

Sam Helderop received an acceptance letter from Michigan’s Hope College this spring, but has no intention of going — at least not in the fall of 2012.

The college has allowed him to defer his admission, and Helderopwill take a gap year to teach English with the DaLaa project in a remote village in Thailand, then backpack throughout Southeast Asia — “until my money runs out.”

“I always wanted to travel pretty much my entire life,” said Helderop, a graduating senior from Grand Rapids, Mich. “But after 18 years of the same old routine, going to school and sitting in class, I am not motivated enough right not to go through four years of college.”

“I feel like a gap year will narrow down what I want to study and do in my life,” he said. “To get my interest in education back again.”

Helderop’s mother is not happy about his plans to step off the academic ladder and do volunteer work.

But higher education experts say that giving students an opportunity to explore the real world helps them mature. And early research reveals that once they restart their academic studies, they actually perform better than those who go straight from high school to college.

An estimated 1.2 percent of first-time college freshmen take a gap year, most of them male students, according to the Higher Education Research Institute at the University of California Los Angeles.

“These are still small percentages,” said John Pryor, director of the cooperative institutional research program at HERI. But college admission officers say the gap year is gaining momentum.

In Britain and Europe the gap year has been de rigueur for decades, but a 2011 survey of American colleges estimated only about 18,000 of the 1.5 million freshmen had taken a year off after high school.

But now, some of the nation’s most competitive colleges — Harvard, Middlebury and Princeton, among others — have adopted formal policies to allow students to defer their admission.

And public colleges like the University of North Carolina offer a Gappl to pursue academics and service abroad.

“Admission offices tell you is that the gap year increases independence and self-reliance and students have a confidence about them,” said Julia Rogers, director of Vermont-based EnRoute Consulting.

In a persuasive column in the Burlington Free Press, she paraphrases Middlebury’s acceptance letter to those who have asked for a gap year deferment:“Congratulations, you’re in. Now go away.”

Her students have spanned the globe.

Right now, Cindy Li of Chesterbrook, Penn., is interning for a radical art collective in Mexico. Mica Thompson of Cape Elizabeth, Maine, is working on an elephant conservation project in South Africa and Tegan Henderson, an American living in London, is learning fashion alongside designer Stella McCartney.

“We live in an increasingly digital world and are existing more virtually than before,” said Rogers. “The gap year forces them into a real experience — learning a language on the ground, meeting people, engaging in situations — all of which is becoming more and more rare among their peers.”

The gap year is also an attractive option financially, costing an average of $10,000 to $25,000 compared to college tuitions, which are now upwards of $55,000 a year, according to Rogers.

She is helping Helderop shape his plans pro bono because he mother is not supporting his gap year, and his father died eight years ago.

“Travel makes Americans nervous, and we are suspicious of other cultures,” Rogers said. “But I think that’s changing and evolving, especially this generation, which is exploring the world more.”

For starters, Rogers recommends that gap year students “do good work, be in a safe location and have a local coordinator.”

Helderop estimates his year abroad will cost about $7,000, money he has saved himself through coaching tennis, working at a diner, and even donating plasma to get closer making to his dream a reality.

And a gap year doesn’t have to be overseas.

Alex Galarce from Illinois is volunteering for 10 months with City Year in Chicago. There, he serves as a full-time tutor and mentor to keep students on track for graduation from high school. Next year, he’ll attend New College of Florida.

“Doing City Year is what made me consider being a teacher,” said Galarce, who had no idea what he wanted to study when he graduated from high school last year. “If I hadn’t done a gap year, that would not have been something I was interested in.”

Robert Clagett, who has worked in admissions for both Harvard University and Middlebury Collegefor three decades, is a passionate convert.

While serving as dean of Middlebury College admissions until last year, he and his colleagues did a comparison study of incoming freshmen, and those who began in February — so-called “Febs” — and those who took the regular route and enrolled in the fall.

They controlled for variables like high school credentials, having an affluent background or attending a better high school and Febs not only had higher GPAs, but the positive effects lasted all four years.

Gap Year Freshman May Outperform Their Peers

The results were “startling,” according to Clagett. “And we knew we were on to something here.”

“The best predictor of overall academic success was being a Feb,” he said. “My theory is that students who have an opportunity to get off the treadmill do better.”

“The pressures of college admission to get in somewhere wags the educational dog in too many ways in high school,” said Clagett. “And the students who get the brass ring into college step back and say, ‘Where am I now?’ That doesn’t happen as much for Febs, who have had intense experiences or maybe worked.”

Clagett’s research is backed up an Australian study of 2,502 students published in the 2010 Journal of Educational Psychology, which said gap year students are more highly motivated.

“The conventional wisdom is you run the risk of the kid losing hard-earned study skills and, God forbid, they don’t go on to college,” he said. “But those aren’t legitimate concerns. In my 30 years, I have never met a student who took a gap year and regretted it.”

In addition to its 100 Febs, Middlebury accepted 40 students in 2011, who chose to take a gap year — “the highest we ever had,” he said.

One of them, Caroline Cating of Arlington, Mass., has woofed [Worldwide Working on Organic Farms] in Hawaii, learned to fly and worked as a ski instructor. Today, she is volunteering a day care center in Mexico for low-income children of single mothers.

“I absolutely love children, and nothing is so wonderful as making meaningful bonds with them,” she wrote ABCNews.com in an email. “It has also been wonderful to practice my Spanish and learn a new culture.”

Caroline Cating, 19, volunteers at a day care center in Mexico.

For her, a gap year has meant “individual, unmonitored, personal growth.”

“All of my different experiences have helped me learn to be patient and to have faith that things work out, though not always as planned,” said Cating. “I’ve learned to budget for groceries and gas and rent, to navigate new social situations in which there isn’t always a right or wrong answer.”

Chloe Sharples of Austin, Texas, will start Colorado College in the fall after spending a whirlwind year abroad with the full support of her parents.

Today, the 19-year-old is in Chiang Mai, Thailand, volunteering for Art Relief International, after going on a daddy-daughter trip to the remote Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan.

Last fall, she improved her Spanish volunteering in an environmental program with Carpe Diem in Ecuador and Peru.

“College is a choice rather than a path for me: I am going to college truly excited to learn,” she wrote ABCNews.com in an email. “I’ve seen so many amazing things this year and met and learned from so many incredible people and I’ve been so inspired and become so curious about so much that I can’t wait to take courses on all of these amazing subjects.”

Her advice to the nervous parent, like Helderop’s: “Don’t be afraid.”

And to students contemplating a gap year: “Be brave and do things that are outside your comfort zone …(but don’t be dumb). Talk to people, the world has so much to teach.”