The Gap Year Association defines a gap year (also known as a bridge year) as a "structured period of time when students take a break from formal education to increase self-awareness, learn from different cultures, and experiment with possible careers." A guiding principle is that the year should engage you in new, challenging experiences that encourage you to reevaluate your assumptions about yourself and the world around you. Long popular in the United Kingdom, Australia, and elsewhere, gap years are increasingly common among students in the United States. Tips on planning a gap year can be found here, and examples of gap year programs can be found here.
Florida State University supports newly-admitted students intent on taking a Gap Year through the FSU Gap Year and Gap Year Fellows programs. Both programs help newly-admitted students plan and complete their 6-12 month Gap Year Project in international, domestic, and/or remote settings. While the Gap Year Program grants participants a 12 month deferral to complete their project, the Gap Year Fellows program additionally grants up to $5000 in needs-based funding to eligible participants intent to center their project on intercultural service. Students who were admitted to Florida State University on February 18, 2021 are eligible to apply for the FSU Gap Year and Gap Year Fellows programs. The application window is open from February 18 to March 15, 2021.
Applications for 2020 are closed, they will reopen in Spring 2021.
For more information, contact Associate Director Warren Oliver
Why should I take a Gap Year? An increasing amount of research suggests that taking a gap year before college can significantly enhance students' personal, professional, and educational growth. Moreover, research from gap year programs at other leading American universities, such as Princeton, Harvard, and Tufts, suggests that gap years can improve students' academic performance while in college. In fact, all Ivy League universities in the U.S. now endorse gap years for interested students.
How do I join the Gap Year and Gap Year Fellows programs? High school seniors who have been admitted to FSU and who are interested in deferring enrollment to take a gap year must submit an FSU Gap Year program application, and those interested in consideration for the Gap Year Fellows funding may indicate on their application. Gap year programs/experiences should be sustained over the majority of the gap year deferment, although the year could be composed of multiple projects. FSU Gap Year Fellows requires students to engage in service for a minimum of six months in a cross-cultural setting. You can submit your application on or after February 18, 2021 when you are accepted to FSU. The application will be reviewed on a rolling basis by a university committee and students will be notified of their deferment status/funding by April 15.
When would I start courses at FSU? Students admitted for Fall semester and accepted later into the FSU Gap Year or Gap Year Fellows programs would defer until the following Fall; Summer semester admits would defer until the following Summer semester. High school seniors offered admission to start at FSU in the Spring semester are not eligible to participate in either program.
What happens when I return from a gap year? Matriculating FSU Gap Year program participants and fellows will participate in an Engage-100 course tailored for returning Gap Year students during the fall semester. Subjects covered would be: reflection upon their gap year experience, exploration of undergraduate student engagement opportunities at FSU, and setting goals for their undergraduate experience. Completion of this course will count for students’ university-required Formative Experience. Additionally, matriculated Gap Year program participants and fellows will be encouraged to build on their gap year experience and connect with the vast curricular and co-curricular programs of FSU, with assistance from offices such as the FSU Center for Leadership and Social Change and the Center for Undergraduate Research & Academic Engagement.
First Hand Experience
With FSU Gap Year Program Participants and Fellows
Read this article on FSU News about several Gap Year Fellows and listen to their experiences.
Also review these blogs written by previous cohorts of Gap Year Fellows about their experiences.
Funding for Gap Year Fellows
And Other Information For Future Participants and Fellows
FSU is proud to be one of the few universities in the country (and the second public university) to offer financial assistance to students taking a gap year through the Gap Year Fellow program. As an FSU Gap Year Fellow, students apply for up to $5,000 to support their gap year. FSU is committed to helping make the transformative opportunities afforded by a gap year accessible to students regardless of their family's income. In addition, some gap year organizations have financial assistance available, and students have had success fundraising (e.g., through crowdfunding websites) for gap year experiences.
Other policies and requirements for students granted a deferment of matriculation:
- Admitted students who are approved to take a gap year may not apply to any other colleges or universities during their gap year, and they must not earn college credit during the year.
- The Office of Admissions reserves the right to review the status of any admitted student, including those on a gap year, and to rescind its offer of admission if a student's academic and personal record does not meet the conditions of admission to the University.
- Deferments granted by the FSU Office of Admissions apply to general admission to FSU only. Students also applying to special, limited access, academic programs (dance, film animation, film production, music, or theater) would also need to coordinate a gap year deferment with their specific academic program.
- If there are any policy changes at FSU during the period of a student's gap year, the changes will apply to the student just as they will to all a members of his/her matriculating class.
- Florida Bright Futures funding would not apply to a gap year.
- FSU Scholarships awarded to the student will be deferred until the student matriculates the following year.
- FSU Gap Year Program Participants and Fellows should confirm financial deferment eligibility with private or other non-FSU scholarship programs (e.g., ROTC Scholarships cannot be deferred). FSU Gap Year Program Participants and Fellows should remember to apply for federal financial aid (via FAFSA) after October 1 during their gap year.
Gap Year Resources Can Be Found Here
American Gap Association (Accrediting body for Gap Year Organizations)
Service Year Alliance
USA Gap Year Fairs
Article from U.S. News and World Report, "How a Gap Year Can Make Students Successful"
Article on the Value of a Gap Year from Inside Higher Ed: Don't Go to College Next Year (January 16, 2014)