Leadership: Wyoming

The 14-week Gap Experience begins with three and a half weeks at the National Outdoor Leadership School in Lander, Wyoming. Students explore the wilderness while camping, refining leadership skills, and examining environmental ethics.


Leadership: Wyoming

Gap students earn four credit hours: two credits in Natural Resrouces Learning and two credits in Wilderness Studies during their National Outdoor Leadership School expedition. Credits for NOLS will be granted through the University of Utah.


Service-Learning: South Dakota

The Gap Experience continues with four weeks of service-learning at locations across the country. Begin by traveling to Eagle Butte, South Dakota to learn about the Oglala Lakota tribe and serve on the Cheyenne River Reservation.


Service-Learning: Missouri

The second week of the service-learning experience takes students to Gateway Greening in St. Louis, Missouri where they focus on increasing access to fresh food for inner city neighborhoods.


Service-Learning: West Virginia

For the third week of the service-learning, we’ll travel to Mullens, West Virginia in the Appalachian Mountains. Here we’ll serve with the Rural Appalachian Improvement League, an organization dedicated to enacting positive social change for community members in the Southern West Virginia coalfields.


Service-Learning: North Carolina

The fourth week of service-learning brings students back to Alamance County, North Carolina where they’ll be able to connect what they’ve learned in South Dakota, Missouri, and West Virginia with social justice issues in the greater Elon community.


International: Spain

The Gap Experience concludes with six weeks in Spain. Students live with a local family while studying in Alicante. 


International: Spain

Students will earn four credit hours toward their Core Curriculum Requirements in Spain, two in Spanish Language and two in Spanish Culture and Society. All levels of Spanish language will be offered. 


Elon Gap Semester

Elon Gap Experience- Frequently Asked Questions

Admission Questions

Who is eligible for the Elon Gap Experience?

Applicants must be high school graduates who plan to attend Elon. Students who apply for the Elon Gap Experience must meet the university's standards for freshman admission.

How do I apply?

Students can apply to the Elon Gap Experience through Early Decision (binding) or Final Deadline via the freshman application. All freshman applicants are required to write an essay. If you are applying to the Gap Experience you should write on the topic specific to the program.

  • Early Decision (binding) applications are due by November 1 with decisions released on December 1. Admitted students will be required to submit a $500 non-refundable enrollment deposit no later than January 10. Space in the Gap Experience is limited. You should only apply as an Early Decision applicant if you plan to attend Elon. If not selected for the Gap Experience, students will be considered for Early Decision admission to the university for the traditional campus-based fall semester.
  • Final Deadline applications are due by January 10 with decisions released around March 15. Admitted students have until May 1 to submit their $500 enrollment deposit. If not selected for the Gap Experience, students will be considered for Final Deadline admission to the university for the traditional campus-based fall semester.

What happens if I am not admitted?

  • Early Decision (binding) students not admitted to the program will automatically be considered for Early Decision to the university, with a decision released December 1. Students not admitted to the Gap Experience are eligible for the Fellows Programs, pending your Fellows application is received by the January 10 deadline.
  • Final Deadline students not admitted to the program will automatically be considered for Final Deadline to the university, with a decision released around March 15. 

Program Questions

How much does it cost?

Program costs will be the same as Elon tuition, fees, room and board for fall semester. Students will also be considered enrolled at the university and eligible for any financial aid for which they qualify. Students will automatically be considered for the Presidential Scholarship or the Elon Engagement Scholarship; however, Gap students may not be Fellows due to the academic requirements of the Fellows Programs.

Additional costs will be incurred for transportation, NOLS equipment and any personal expenditures.

Will Elon faculty and staff be involved with the Gap Experience?

Yes. Two Elon staff members will accompany students to NOLS orientation and then both will depart; NOLS staff will manage the duration of the expedition. After NOLS, The coordinator of gap programs and 1 faculty or staff member will accompany students throughout the service-learning projects. Elon staff will be in residence in Spain.

I don't have a lot of experience in the outdoors.  Can I still participate?

If you are motivated and in good physical and emotional health, you can excel. NOLS students come from a wide variety of backgrounds. The desire to learn and participate is the most important factor for success on a NOLS course.

Do I need to know Spanish in order to participate in the Gap Experience?

While it is not necessary to know Spanish, you may find it helpful as you travel throughout Spain. There are varying levels of Spanish classes that can be taken, from beginner to advanced. There will be a questionnaire to complete so you can be matched with the best possible homestay family and feel the most comfortable during your stay there.

Why is the program relocating to Spain this year?

In light of concerns about health and safety regarding the Zika Virus in Latin America, the Elon Gap Experience is redirecting the study abroad portion of the program this fall from San Jose, Costa Rica to Alicante, Spain. All of the key components of the study abroad experience will remain the same: homestays, academic coursework, service-learning, excursions, and opportunities for cultural exchange. 

What will the group do for service-learning?

The group will engage in service-learning between Wyoming and North Carolina. The projects may be the same as the previous year’s Gap students, or they may be different. The service will vary from site to site, depending on the organization we partner with on that day. Some examples include construction and/or home repair; food harvesting, preparation, cooking and/or serving; reforestation and/or other outreach projects.

Transitioning to Elon

When do I sign up for classes?

The Coordinator of Gap Programs will also be your academic advisor in Spain. Your schedule will be planned out taking into consideration any prior coursework or dual enrollment courses from high school. You will sign up for winter term and spring classes while in Spain.

Where will I live on campus?

In Spain, you will be asked to complete a housing questionnaire so you can be paired to the best possible roommate in the area you’d most prefer to live in. While not all housing options may be available, Gap students will have priority over spring admitted and transfer students since Gap students arrive for winter term and will have completed a semester as an Elon student in the fall. 

How will I transition back to Elon's campus?

Gap students will have a transition to campus life through the following steps:

  1. Take advantage of the extended winter break to process the experience and use the tools learned throughout the Gap Experience.
  2. During spring semester, use your Elon 101 course to help with the transition to campus, to learn about all the resources available to you and where they are located, as well as to get to know the community around the university.
  3. Participate in your winter term course. This course meets three hours daily and students in the class get to know each other well. Taking the one course helps with the academic transition back to the classroom for the spring semester.
  4. Spend time with your roommate/suitemates/hall mates. They have had a semester to get to know the campus and will be great resources to help you adjust to campus life.
  5. Don't forget about each other! You just spent an amazing semester with 14 other students who are also new to campus and you know them pretty well, don't you? There will be designated meetings and dinners throughout winter term to reconnect with your cohort and to get to know Gap alumni. 
  6. Previous Gap participants are also on campus and students have the option of participating in a mentoring program to talk with students that have already gone through this transition to campus through winter term and spring semester.
  7. Get ready for other students studying abroad to come back to campus. Winter term is a time when many students elect to study abroad, so campus isn't quite as busy as the spring semester. Enjoy the month with fewer students around.

I have additional questions about the Elon Gap Experience. Who should I contact?

For questions about admission to the program, contact admissions@elon.edu. For questions about the program schedule and content, contact Elizabeth Coder, Assistant Director of New Student & Transition Programs and Coordinator of Gap Programs.