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First-Year Global Programs: Information for Families

We appreciate your interest in the Tufts First-Year Global Programs. These are two unique opportunities for your child—or the Tufts student in your life—to have substantive social impact while developing academically and growing as a person. We view them as transformative experiences that will benefit both the students and the people and communities they call home, and have ripple effects on participants when they return to campus.

We also recognize that, for many parents and students, it may be difficult to weigh all of the varying factors and decide if either program—and which one—is a good fit. We offer the following information in the hope of informing you and your child's conversations and reflections about participating in at Tufts First-Year Global Program.

Note: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have made the difficult decision to cancel Tufts 1+4 for the 2021-2022 academic year. However, we are offering a Tufts Civic Semester program based in the Southwestern United States.

Tips for Families Considering a First-Year Global Program

  • It is essential to thoroughly read all the information on the Tufts Civic Semester and/or Tufts 1+4 Bridge Year pages before making any decisions. Each program, location, and placement may have distinctive features and requirements that should influence your decision-making.
  • Whether it is you or your Tufts student who has initiated a discussion about our programs, we hope that you will discuss these opportunities in the spirit of openness. While we are excited about the meaningful opportunities they provide, we recognize that they are not for everyone. Students will only succeed in their program if they are driven by a passion to support community development, a willingness to experience the unknown, a desire to cross cultural boundaries, and an openness to delving deep into themselves and their place in the world. When your child is considering the different placements, there are many relevant factors to evaluate to ensure that the chosen opportunity will be positive for both your child and for the community. These include internship site (passions, career goals, academic interests, desire to experience a new field or build upon past work or extracurriculars), location (urban or rural, foreign language background, goals), and more.

We wish you all the best as you discuss the program and the next steps for you and your prospective First-Year Global Program applicant!


Our first Civic Semester in fall 2019 had a profound effect on the personal and academic development of our students. Here's some feedback from parents of Civic Semester participants:

"This is a high impact program. I am impressed and quite in awe of the thoughtfulness and intentionality with which Tufts and Where There be Dragons designed and implemented the program, particularly the emphasis on reflection. The program builds community among the cohort and due to the cohort model, and the program staff that are with them throughout the program, you have created a safe 'home base' that allows them to explore, stretch and grow. "

"My child returned with an ability to slow down and appreciate the moment, and a better, more global perspective on things that are important."

"We understandably had some hesitation with being absent from campus her first semester of her first year, but would now recomment Civic Semester as a very positive start to her college years."

"The experience was a gift for us as well. We thoroughly enjoyed experiencing Peru through our child's eyes and learning and hearing about everything they were doing. This was an experience that will shape our child forever."

Over five years, the Tufts 1+4 Bridge Year has received outstanding positive feedback from participants, with an overwhelming majority of students and parents rating it as a remarkable, transformative experience. Here's what some parents of past Tufts 1+4 Fellows have had to say:

"The change in my daughter is incredible. I thought she was mature and independent before, but I am so impressed by the confidence and wisdom she acquired. Learning a new language, adapting to a different culture, and assimilating into a new family helped her grow so much as a person. She has a deeper commitment to doing good in the world. She is so equipped to begin her freshman year, and she has some close friends who will also be on campus. I'm incredibly proud of her, and grateful she had this opportunity."

"When our daughter returned, she seemed so much more mature. She was willing to go with the flow when making plans, and mostly, she was more open-minded. This has been a great change; she's willing to give people the benefit of the doubt that much more. Her relationship with her host family wasn't always easy, but she stuck through it and emerged with more understanding. Tufts 1+4 gave our daughter the gift of real empathy."

"My son has grown exponentially in mind, body, and spirit. His has a solid sense of self with a heightened awareness and appreciation of his surroundings. His determination has blossomed, giving him the confidence needed to thrive and excel. I know my son has had an experience of a lifetime that he will forever cherish and never forget. I couldn't be more pleased with this program or more proud of my son."

"I notice that our daughter is very, very excited to be a part of Tufts University. I feel that she is ready to go to college and understands what an excellent education can give her. She has a more broad sense of the world around her. She is more understanding of differences. She is more understanding of herself. I am thrilled the bridge year program has crossed her path. I think it has made a huge impact on her for her future."

"Our son returned with an expanded perspective on life. He sees a broader horizon, one that incorporates his service, education and his overall life journey. Additionally, he has cultivated a deeper sense of gratitude for the opportunities he has."

"Take advantage of this wonderful opportunity! It's tough at first but getting through it takes your child to a state of confidence, and appreciation, and wisdom about the world. The cultural training Tufts provided was irreplaceable, and gave the students reflection skills and openness they will carry with them the rest of their lives."

"Don't think twice! You can give your child a once-in-a-lifetime chance to take time, to mature, to pause and reflect, and to expand their understanding of the world. College will still be there when they get back, but your child will be a much better version of themselves."

"After the craziness of high school and college applications, this year to explore the world at a slower pace and have time to thoughtfully consider short and long-term goals is a gift. This program enables students to gain a more global perspective and learn to live and travel with new people and in new cultures, speaking a different language."

Additional Information

Our collaborating organizations also have dedicated webpages addressed to parents. While some particular details on policies and procedures may be specific to that organization or program, we encourage you to read them all regardless of which location or placement your student is interested in, since much of the information is universally relevant.

If you have additional questions, or would like to speak to a Tufts 1+4 parent whose child participated in the program, please email

Elaine Harris and her host mother

How the Tufts 1+4 Bridge Year Changed My Child

Margaret Moore, whose daughter Elaine was among the initial group of Tufts 1+4 Fellows in 2015-2016, shares a parent's perspective on what the program has meant for her daughter—and for her.