Selfishly, I love having my college-aged daughter living at home attending her online classes and having virtual check-ins with her professors. Davidson College, like so many universities and colleges, is doing a remarkable job converting to online learning. But, it’s not even close to the experience she would have on campus hanging around other bright students, interacting over peppermint tea with professors, working on group projects, playing ultimate frisbee, and working through tension with hallmates in close quarters. As of now, that opportunity is not guaranteed for the Fall of 2020. She is among hundreds of thousands of college-aged students considering her options for the next school year.
Alison Buttenheim, an epidemiologist at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, wrote convincingly in her twitter feed about the slim chances of many colleges returning to residential life and in-person learning and that the 2020-2021 school year presents an ideal time for a gap year. A March 25, 2020 article from The Chronicle of Higher Education indicated that 1 out of 6 high school seniors who had planned to attend a four year college have changed their minds and that 35% of those not attending a four year university are considering a gap year. More recent news stories show that number rising. Now is a great time to consider how a gap year could be a valuable option for learning, growth, and service as an alternative to a year of non-guaranteed traditional learning.
PTM has named its gap year program “LEAP Year”—hoping to reflect the “leap” we have watched happen in the young adults who have spent a year serving at PTM. That leap happens through serving in a full-time job at PTM, having weekly meetings as a cohort, meeting one-on-one with a caring mentor, engaging with a host family, and living in a house with other LEAPers. The leap is designed to be one of faith, professional competence, community, and training in urban ministry. LEAPers receive a stipend of $750 per month and housing. 25% of the LEAPers since 2016 are now part of PTM’s full-time staff. Young adults ages 18-28 are eligible to apply. More information about PTM’s LEAP program and how to apply can be found here.
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