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

The National Outdoor Leadership School course will offer four credits: two credits will transfer as a leadership elective and two additional credits as environmental ethics.

Service Learning: South Dakota

The Gap Experience continues with four weeks of service learning at locations across the country. Begin by traveling to Pine Ridge, S.D. to learn about the Oglala Sioux tribe and work on the reservation.


Service Learning: Missouri

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

Service Learning: West Virginia

In the third week of the service learning experience, students travel to Mullens, West Virginia. to experience Appalachian culture and learn about the coal mining industry.


International: Costa Rica

The Gap Experience concludes with six weeks in Costa Rica. Students live with a local family while studying at the Elon Center in San Jose.



International: Costa Rica

The Costa Rica Centre course will offer four General Studies credits, 2 credits in Spanish and 2 credits in culture. All levels of Spanish language will be offered. This course will also include classroom and field experiences.


Elon Gap Semester

Elon Gap Experience

Bridge Your High School and College Experiences

Who says you have to jump straight from high school graduation to first semester freshman year? Maybe you want more time for personal growth, challenge and enrichment. Imagine discovering more about yourself hiking under the big sky. Or learning firsthand what you can do to help improve a community. Maybe an international experience would challenge you to reexamine your role as a global citizen.

You’ll do all this and more in Elon’s three-pronged Gap Experience, a special 13-week fall term experience designed for students who wish to begin their Elon education through a different perspective while still earning 9 hours of academic credit.

Students will have an initial on-campus orientation to the Gap Experienceand then return to Elon for the January Winter Term and spring semester.

Three Settings. One Incredible Learning Experience.


Begin your Gap Experience in Wyoming with a three and a half week experience offered exclusively to Elon by the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS). Experience the wilderness while you learn outdoor skills, leadership and environmental ethics.

Service Learning

This second leg of your journey encompasses four-weeks of service-learning experiences that will take you across the country to examine poverty, hunger, the environment and other issues critical to the welfare of every community. You may work to weatherize homes, harvest an organic farm, or prepare meals for those in need, while learning more about the cultures and traditions of different populations in order to understand the critical nature of responsible citizenship and service.


The Elon Gap Experience concludes with a six-week experience based in San Jose, Costa Rica. You will live with local families, study Spanish and other courses as well as travel within this magnificent country.

How Can I Apply?

Students should apply to the Gap Experience via the freshman application. Applicants may apply Early Decision (binding) or Final Deadline. 

  • Early Decision (binding) applications are due by November 1 with decisions released on December 1. Admitted students will be required to submit a $500 nonrefundable 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 on 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.

Gap Experience Events

Select a highlighted day to see its events.

Who is Eligible?

The Gap Experience is only for freshman applicants who plan to attend Elon and who meet the university’s standard for freshman admission.

The Elon Gap Experience is designed for the student who would benefit from a highly experiential program and would enjoy participating in a program that's alternative to the traditional on-campus college experience.

The program is NOT for the student who has a history of discipline problems, academic or social suspension from high school, or other personal circumstances that might be challenging to the the individual or group dynamic.

How Much Does It Cost?

Program costs are the same as Elon tuition, fees, room and board for fall semester. Students will 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 fall semester requirements of the Fellows Programs.