The first gap year incentive that Ithaca College used to help deal with over-enrollment turned a major problem into a success for some students.
In the summer of 2009, incoming freshmen were given the option to take a year off and receive $10,000 to put toward tuition. Thirty-two then-incoming students considered the offer, and 18 enrolled this year.
The students who took the gap year were able to gain a different perspective on life. Instead of just a couple of months to prepare for college, students had a year. Students traveled to exotic countries, volunteered in orphanages and taught English — experiencing life outside of their comfort zones.
When students came on campus this academic year, adjusting to college life was much simpler than adjusting to the new places of their travels.
For the 2009-10 school year, the college was unsure how to handle the largest class in its history. Extended occupancy was used in every residential building. A modular, temporary building was rented. Upperclassmen were given money to move off campus. All of these options were first viewed negatively. But the gap year, an option that was never used before, turned into a positive experience for students.