Bronco Gap Year allows students to take a break before starting college or pause for a year or a semester to save money, focus interests, and start or restart their college experience with a stronger sense of purpose while gaining elective credit toward their degree at Boise State.
Troy Oppie, host and reporter for Boise State Public Radio, created the Aug. 21 story, “Letting students work and learn during a unique college gap year,” for Marketplace as a follow up to his article, “Boise State Pioneers Structured ‘Gap Year’ Program,” about the creation of the Gap Year program in March 2020.
“What really struck me was the staff-student ratio,” Oppie replied in an email about what attracted him to writing about the program. “Kelly Myers called it the ‘secret sauce,’ a quote which I loved, and the students I spoke with very much valued that support.”
Kelly Myers, interim associate dean for the College of Arts and Sciences and an associate professor of English, designed the Bronco Gap Year program around the idea that the students who thrive and continue their academic journeys generally have personal relationships with people at the university—a community of support.
The “secret sauce” of the program is the five-to-one staff-to-student ratio that provides students direct access to career and academic counselors, faculty, staff, and peer mentors who check in with them regularly throughout their gap year experience. Oppie quoted Megan Gambs, a Bronco Gap Year mentor from Boise State’s Institute for Inclusive and Transformative Scholarship, “Students persist in college because of relationships.”
Gap Year essentially helps students stay engaged with their personal goals even if they have to take a break from their formal academic study. The program allows students to craft independent study and provides structured exploration for students who may be deciding between majors.
The recent Marketplace Morning Report article positioned Bronco Gap Year in relation to the pandemic as well as trends in higher education in the U.S. today, “According to the College Board, there were about 120,000 more high school students who chose to delay starting college last fall.”
Lewis Sandborne, senior vice president for Enrollment and Student Success at Ruffalo Noel Levitz, a higher education consultant group, is quoted, “‘If we live in an experience economy right now, and that’s clearly what consumers are telling the marketplace,’ he said, ‘then education needs to be able to understand how it needs to reframe itself.’ In short, schools need to do a better job of focusing on student needs instead of institutional needs.”
Boise State is working with Louisiana Tech University to create a similar program there. Long-term, the Gap Year idea could extend to bridge the gap between high school and college for students in underserved communities.
Bronco Gap Year is one of many programs that demonstrate the kind of “Blue Turf Thinking” that recently earned Boise State “Top 50 in Innovation” by U.S. News and World Report.
Originally conceived as a recruitment and retention tool in response to the pandemic, the Bronco Gap Year program clearly demonstrates Boise State’s mission to meet the needs of students where they are and will continue to evolve.
Visit the Bronco Gap Year website for more details about the program and application process.
Contact Kenna Cox at email@example.com with questions about the program.