Like thousands of high school seniors around the country, my daughter just finished submitting her college applications. The process of exploring and applying to colleges has been filled with introspection, discovery, excitement, anticipation and anxiety. The whole process was made easier however, thanks to two travel experiences my daughter had this past year. First she spent a month in Paris on an academic, cultural and language program sponsored by Oxbridge Academic Programs. Then she joined the rest of our family on a trip to Kenya.
How did these travel experiences help? Travel has intrinsic value, it broadens the mind and exposes the traveler to new cultures, languages and points of view. But more specifically and pragmatically it gives the student a unique experience to put on their college application and often something meaningful on which to base their application essay.
Farther Foundation provided scholarships to 16 students this past summer which they used to participate in programs on five different continents. They studied language, volunteered in service projects, lived with foreign host families, climbed mountains and took college level classes. I’m sure many of these activities formed the basis for their application essays.
My daughter had to write several essays in her application process – one for the common application and then several shorter ones for individual college’s supplemental applications. Her main essay recounted her experiences studying photography on the streets of Paris. It spoke of her growing self confidence, lessening of inhibitions and increasing awareness and appreciation for new surroundings and experiences. A secondary essay focused on her perception of and reaction to the income disparities that she witnessed in Kenya.
Apart from the essay, the entire process of researching travel programs, filling out applications and in many cases applying for financial aid provided students a dry run and a level of familiarity and comfort in the application process.
At Farther Foundation we truly believe that travel is singular in its ability to open the eyes and unbind the aspirations of students. But we know that apart from these intrinsic values, there are some very practical benefits to those students looking to get a leg up in the college application process.
Farther Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization providing scholarships to low-income students to inspire them to reach their highest aspirations through educational travel experiences.