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." 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.
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.
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 May 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 the end of May.
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 will automatically be considered for a scholarship of 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.
Students admitted for Fall semester who are approved to take a gap year 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 for a gap year deferment.
Students undertaking a gap year will be invited to participate in structured group activities and reflection upon returning. Once matriculated at FSU, gap year students 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.
Other requirements for students granted a deferment of matriculation: