Gap Experience Offers New Gateway to Campus Life

Self-motivated students graduating from high school in 2014 and hoping for a gap experience before settling into campus life can spend an adventurous first semester under a new program starting next fall.

Leadership, service and international travel combine in the new Gap Experience venture – an initiative particularly relevant for college-bound students looking for some time to discern their direction in life.

Gap Experience students will travel with staff and faculty to various sites throughout Canada and the United States, as well as to the island of St. Lucia. Their gap semester will begin at an outdoor leadership site along the Canadian shore of Lake Superior, where sea-kayaking and backpacking will be among the offerings. Students will then visit four different United States locations, working with service organizations to help those in need. Their semester will end with a six-week international service experience in St. Lucia.

“I’m very excited about this innovative new program,” says President Thomas Kunkel. “We recognize that students come to college with different experiences and expectations, and this will be an attractive alternative point of entry to St. Norbert College for a certain number of them. The program will be a journey of self-discovery, even as it helps prepare these students for college work and life.”

The Gap program at St. Norbert is designed for students looking to transition into college life while still earning college credit. The first-year journey will combine their unique first-semester experience with a J-Term class and the culmination of the full first academic year at St. Norbert College.

Unlike many gap programs, this experience will earn students college credit and is designed to ensure that students in the program will earn sophomore status by the end of the first academic year. Participants qualify for St. Norbert's four-year graduation guarantee.

Any accepted student enrolling at St. Norbert College for the fall semester can apply for the Gap Experience. A maximum of 20 students will be chosen, based on their application and recommendation from their college admission representative.

Admissions counselors say that, particularly if a student is not sure what they want to major in, the new program may be the perfect way to explore who they are and to see the needs within our global society that they may be able to fulfill. And counselors offer answers to some Frequently Asked Questions:

  • Cost: Students participating in the program will be responsible for their travel costs to the starting location, and to fly to and from St. Lucia. All other costs are included in their St. Norbert tuition, room and board. Any scholarships, academic awards or financial aid that they’ve been offered are applicable.
  • Eligibility: Once students apply to and are admitted to St. Norbert, they are eligible to complete the online application for the Gap Experience. A maximum of 20 students will be admitted. The program is organized and facilitated by full-time, professional St. Norbert staff, so students will be considered fully enrolled as a St. Norbert student and earn credits equivalent to full-time status.
  • Financial aid from SNC: Students will qualify for a financial aid package that helps to finance this opportunity. Their financial aid package will help cover the cost of the Gap semester program as well as their J-Term course plus spring-semester tuition and fees.
  • College credit toward a degree: Because the Gap Experience is run by St. Norbert College, students will be earning college credit – and those credits will satisfy core curriculum requirements at St. Norbert.
  • Experiential service learning: Students will learn, first-hand, about the challenges that so many face every day. They will work to make a positive change in the lives of others as well as in themselves.
  • Faculty, staff and student support: Gap Experience participants will make ready connections with other St. Norbert students (especially their Gap Experience cohort) and college staff. Faculty and staff who facilitate the program will make sure students have the help and support they need during the Gap program and as they join the on-campus community.

Nov. 5, 2013