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Is a Gap-Year the Right Thing For Your Christian Student?

Guest post by John M. Hodges
Director, Center for Western Studies

There have been a number of books and articles published lately about the present college experience and how it often falls short of expectations. Books like “The 5-year Party” by Craig Brandon (the title says it all), “Education’s End: Why our Colleges and Universities have given up on the Meaning of Life,” and Richard Arum’s “Academically Adrift” speak of how our colleges are losing momentum and direction, and no longer seem to do a very good job of teaching our young people to think well.

At the Center for Western Studies, we believe colleges won’t be able to teach clear thinking because most colleges no longer hold to a cohesive view of the world. But what if you could take a year off, get a feel for the intensity of study that college requires, and at the same time, see some of the world? The Center for Western Studies was designed to offer a college-level gap-year program for students who want to take a year off between high school and college, but would also like to strengthen two things before going off to college: a cohesive Christian worldview, and a foundational history of the great ideas of Western civilization. These two are accomplished through lectures and tutorials in the great books, art, music, and architecture of the West, and by way of travel to some of the sites we study.

Our students begin reading in Homer and work their way through the art and literature of the Middle Ages, Renaissance, Enlightenment and 19th centuries, ending with TS Eliot, Chesterton, and CS Lewis in the 20th century. These studies are led by 3 college professors who have been working together for many years, and are committed to a Christian view of all areas of thought.

Our students also travel to Paris, Chartres, Oxford, London, and Washington DC, all to better know how the Christian faith has been lived out in the past, at the great universities (Sorbonne, Oxford, Cambridge), and in the great architecture (Paris, Chartres, St. Denis), art (the National Galleries of London and Washington, the Louvre Museum, the Orsay Museum, etc.), and the history of the West and the US (British Museum, Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey; National Archives, DC, Capitol building, Supreme Court, etc.).

Our work intends to prepare students to apply that same faith to today’s problems, to gain clarity about what they would most like to study (making the college experience more fruitful), and to build a strong mental framework of discernment that will make it possible to learn much from any college professor, regardless of the professor’s beliefs.

You can learn more about our program on our website: We answer FAQs like “Why a gap year?” and “Why Western Studies and not other cultures?” We would be pleased to discuss the details with all who are interested. Please feel free to contact our Director at: We hope you will consider studying at the Center for Western Studies. We only take a maximum of 12 students per year, so if you are interested, please contact us as soon as possible to assure a slot for the fall.

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