The remake of the bachelor’s degree should begin with its starting point. Many 18-year-olds are simply not ready to start college only three months after graduating from high school. Yet there are few organized, inexpensive options available if they want to delay college to earn money, gain credits, or just figure out what they want to do in life. More campuses should follow the lead of Tufts University, which beginning this fall will build a structured gap year into the curriculum for some students by providing a year of full-time national or international service before they arrive on the campus.
The idea that “college” is one specific place where we spend four years just after high school made sense when we had shorter life expectancies and worked for one employer our entire careers. But given the frequency with which Americans change jobs and careers today, we need access to higher education at various points in our lifetimes, not just for a few years at the age of 18.