Princeton University want to start a program which helps students take a year abraod before they even start college:

Seizing on students’ desire for a year off before college, Princeton Univeristy is working to create a program to send a tenth or more of its newly admitted students to a year of social service work in a foreign country before they set foot on campus as freshmen.Princeton’s president, Shirley M. Tilghman, said in an interview that such a program would give students a more international perspective, add to their maturity and give them a break from academic pressures. She called it a year of “cleansing the palate of high school, giving them a year to regroup.”

This is exciting, because instead of encouraging kids to take a gap year vacation, it encourages them to actually be involved somewhere, to live abroad, not to be a tourist. I think that’s so important. It always amazes me how much some people can travel without really learning anything about where they are travelling through. If they’re passive tourists, being shuffled around the great sights, they don’t get nearly as much out of travel as if they’re working and engaged in the culture.