TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida State University is now offering incoming freshmen the option of taking a “gap year” before beginning their college careers. And, Florida State is even offering to help pay for it.
Gap years, increasingly popular among colleges and universities throughout the United States, have been shown to enhance students’ personal, professional and educational growth, as well as improve their academic performance while in college. In fact, every Ivy League university in the nation now endorses the practice for interested students.
“In recent years we have seen an increase in the number of students who take a year off before starting college, so the notion of doing a gap year is not new to Florida State,” said FSU Director of Admissions Hege Ferguson.
Florida State, however, is only the second public university in the nation to offer financial assistance to students taking a gap year.
“The university is committed to educating all of its students to become active global citizens, and by offering a scholarship, we hope to provide access to those students who might not otherwise be able to participate in a gap year,” Ferguson said.
Students who apply for FSU’s gap year option will automatically be considered for a scholarship of up to $5,000 to support their experience.
During a gap year, students undertake programs and experiences that commonly include travel, volunteering, internships or other structured endeavors to complement their FSU education. These projects are to be conducted throughout the majority of the student’s deferment.
“Gap years can be transformative experiences for young adults, helping them become better thinkers and citizens,” said Joe O’Shea, director of Undergraduate Research and Academic Engagement at Florida State.
O’Shea, who is president of the board of the American Gap Association, authored “Gap Year: How Delaying College Changes People in Ways the World Needs.”
“Gap years help students unlock their potential and take more advantage of their time in college,” O’Shea said.
One Florida State parent, who attributes her child’s college success to taking a gap year after high school, would certainly agree.
“I have no doubt that the year spent in Brazil has provided my daughter with a confidence, a maturity and a direction that she would not have had otherwise,” said Nancy Montgomery, whose daughter spent her gap year serving as a Rotary Student Ambassador.
“I am certain that she returned home with an even greater desire to seize any and all opportunities FSU has to offer,” Montgomery said.
Accepted freshmen interested in taking a gap year can submit an application online at http://admissions.fsu.edu/freshman/gapyear/. Applications should include the student’s proposed plans and learning objectives for the gap year, as well as how the gap year will support their educational goals.
Incoming freshmen admitted for either the fall or summer semesters are eligible for FSU’s gap year option. Spring semester admits are ineligible.
The gap year deferment application period begins in December, and students will have until May 1 to submit an application.