Florida State University is now offering funding for gap year students between high school and their first year of college who are looking for opportunities to gain new experiences and learn more about themselves. The program, which is becoming increasingly popular in the United States, is suggested to improve a student’s academic performance prior to starting at a university.
Taking a gap year has been recognized by many as “taking time off”; however, upon further research into the statistics and results of gap years, the American Gap Association was able to redefine it. They state that a gap year is “an experimental semester or year ‘on,’ typically taken between high school and college in order to deepen practical, professional, and personal awareness.” The concept of the gap year started in the United Kingdom in 1970 as a way to further the development of students. Today the gap year program serves with the purpose of “increasing self-awareness, learning about different cultural perspectives, and experimenting with future possible careers.” Students who participate in a gap year will spend their time interacting with new experiences that challenge them to reconsider their assumptions about the world and themselves. The students will attain this through traveling, volunteering, interning, or working.
Students who apply for the gap year are automatically considered for a scholarship of up to $5,000 for their gap year. Certain gap year programs also offer financial assistance. The gap year program is designed for all students regardless of their family income. Coordinators from the American Gap Year Association or Florida State University can assist students in developing a plan and finding ways to fund their gap year. Students in the past have obtained the finances they need to support their gap year through fundraising online.
Students who are interested in the gap year program and want to apply can find more information about the program at the Florida State University Office of Admissions website under the freshman tab. Applicants must supply a short proposed plan that articulates their goals for the gap year, learning objectives, and how it will support their educational goals. The gap year should coordinate with their specific academic programs. Gap year deferments can be used for multiple projects. The application has already been opened up and closes on May 1st.
Taking a break from the academic track serves to improve a student’s focus by presenting them with opportunities and experiences that give them a better sense of purpose in the world. It is a time for students to reflect in preparation for college. Proven through research the gap year provides a positive impact on a student’s academic performance once they begin at the University. They are even more likely to graduate with a higher grade point average than students who did not defer. The life skills obtained over the year provides them with skills and knowledge that will contribute to their major and career.
Students who are admitted into the gap year program for the Summer or Fall semesters would defer until the following year. High school seniors who are offered admissions for the Spring semester are unable to apply for the gap year deferment.
FSU offers programs for students returning from their gap years to adjust back into the academic setting through structured group activities and reflection. Students who are admitted into the gap year program are encourage to continue developing what they learned from their gap year and connect these skills to the curricular activities offered at FSU.
Although research has demonstrated positive result from the gap year program they advocate that it is not always the right fit for everyone. People who are interested in the exciting opportunities the gap year program offers should visit www.americangap.org and Florida State University’s Office of Admissions website for more information.
By KIRSTEN GRAY / Contributing Writer