Rated PG – Some Students May Not Be Suitable for College (Yet)
by Jim Martinho
It's the educational path drilled into students as early as preschool: Work your way through the elementary and middle school grades, earn your high school diploma, and immediately enroll in a four-year college.
You've worked all this time to prepare for college, so why wait? But many high school grads benefit from a pit stop on the road to college attendance. For a variety of reasons, spending a postgraduate (PG) year at a private school can lead to a wider range of college options - and better results when you do make it to campus.
A PG year is an additional year of secondary education offered to high school graduates by independent day and boarding schools. Schools offering PG years usually limit enrollment to around 10-20 students, who are generally treated like members of the senior class - attending classes, playing on interscholastic athletic teams, and living in boarding school dormitories.
Depending on the school, tuition and fees for a PG year may approach a year of college attendance. So why might a student enroll in a PG year?
Improve college admissions credentials
Some students decide early in senior year that they want to attend a PG program, while others apply to colleges but are unhappy with their options. Either way, PG programs allow students to fill in gaps in their transcript, enroll in higher level or Advanced Placement courses, or improve SAT or ACT scores.
A successful PG year at a well-regarded independent school demonstrates to colleges that the student can excel in a demanding academic setting. PG students also benefit from working with private school college counseling staff members, who may be able to devote more attention to individual students than counselors at larger public schools.
Prepare for college life
There's much more to succeeding in college than academics. For many students, college marks their first time living away from home for an extended time, requiring an emotional maturity that's tough to test before you arrive on campus. PG programs at boarding schools offer a taste of the trials and tribulations of dormitory living: dealing with roommates, filtering out distractions when it's time to study, and eating meals that may not live up to mom's home cooking (depending on the mom).
International students hoping to attend a US college or university will value a year spent practicing English, living among American students and learning about US educational systems. Students with learning disabilities or those who have underachieved in school may benefit from the low student-teacher ratios and specially trained staff in PG programs like Oliverian School in New Hampshire or Oxford Academy in Connecticut.
Athletics - get better and get recruited
Student-athletes aiming to compete at the college level may benefit from an additional year of athletic and academic training. Expert coaches, skilled teammates, and another year of seasoning will help you take your game to the next level. Independent schools offer the opportunity to compete against the best and showcase your skills to college recruiters who missed you at your previous school - recruiters flock to known athletic powerhouses like The Hotchkiss School.
Even the most heavily recruited athletes need to meet NCAA requirements to compete at the college level. PG programs provide the academic attention and test preparation necessary to succeed in the classroom and on the field.
If you think a PG year might be just what you need, it's time to research schools and application procedures. Or if you're already enrolled in a private school that offers a PG program, you might not have to apply at all.
Private School Search makes it easy to search for schools offering PG years - just select PG in the grade range menu (you can also specify search criteria such as gender served, location). Then click on each school to view its profile featuring info on academic offerings, athletics, tuition and financial aid, and more.
Research school websites and contact admissions directors to find the right fit - they'll be happy to answer questions about specific academic or athletic programs.
If you're having trouble with your search, it's never a bad idea to talk to an independent educational consultant familiar with private or boarding school admissions. Consultants can help you narrow your search, provide you an unbiased opinion on PG programs, and guide you through the admissions process.