The American Gap 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. Typically these are achieved by a combination of traveling, volunteering, interning, or working."
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.
"Before I began my undergraduate experience at FSU I spent a gap year as an exchange student in Minas Gerais, Brazil. Coming back from my year abroad, I arrived in Tallahassee looking for any way possible to tie my life-changing experience into my college career. Through FSU's Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program I was able to find a research project that perfectly aligned with my interests- working with Dr. Marcia Porter on her book "Brazilian Portuguese Diction for Singers." This project allowed me to continue immersion in the Portuguese language through translation and revision of Classical Brazilian song pieces, as well as learn a great deal more about Brazilian history, culture, and Classical music from an academic viewpoint. My continued involvement with Brazilian culture at FSU went far beyond my research project however, as I got connected with fellow Portuguese language learners and Brazilian exchange students through the Portuguese Language club. Florida State has given me many further opportunities to widen my global perspective, all while still staying on campus, through the Global and Public Affairs Living Learning Community and Conversation Partner Program with English-learning international students. I am currently now working towards creating a club with the American Gap Association for fellow FSU students who have also taken a gap year, to also promote FSU's gap year."
High school seniors who have been admitted to FSU and who are interested in deferring enrollment to take a gap year must submit a short application detailing proposed plans for the gap year, learning objectives for the year, and how the gap year will support their educational goals. Gap year programs/experiences should be sustained over the majority of the gap year deferment, although the year could be composed of multiple projects.
The gap year deferment application opens in December and can be submitted anytime until February 1.
The application will be reviewed on a rolling basis by a university committee and students will be notified of their deferment status as soon as possible, and no later than April 1.
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. Students applying for a gap year deferment can choose to apply to become a Gap Year Fellow, which offers 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.
To learn more and apply to take a gap year, check out our website: http://cre.fsu.edu/gap-year