The Role of the Post Graduate (PG) Year in Preparation for College

Not Just For Athletes Anymore

I have worked with many PG students who have eventually declared the PG experience as essential to their growth and success. These students are young women and men, some student athletes, who have chosen to commence to another challenge before taking on the new world that is the college experience. Taking a PG year is not for everyone – there are rules and expectations that form a structured environment meant to facilitate practical and developmental growth in students while fostering engagement.

There are over 100 schools in the US and Canada that offer the PG experience to students looking for the next step before college. I am happy to share with you the successes and challenges inherent in the PG experience and how they align with the goals and expectations of our college students as they enter into adulthood and beyond, fully knowing that education is a never-ending proposition.

Here are two stories of students I worked with:

Suzie, for example, decided to choose a post graduate year after finding the IB program at the school she attended and graduated from wasn’t the best fit to fully prepare her for college as she had hoped- socially and in terms of academic breadth and opportunities. Coincidentally, she was a hockey player who decided as a senior that she wanted to try to play in college. The PG year extended the opportunity for recruitment (with the addition of an intense recruiting plan) and the additional year allowed her to explore classes that piqued her interest in ecology and biology. She is now playing hockey and is a biology major at a top liberal arts college.

Joe was a late bloomer physically and academically. He and his family chose a PG year to allow Joe the opportunity to physically and academically mature at a place where he could compete on a high-level lacrosse team against elite level competition. Joe’s grades and synthesis of course material began to bloom and he benefited from the close-knit community, strong advising, and quality coaching and competition.

Meanwhile, Alex worked with us and pursued a PG year for non-athletic reasons (even though he ended up as an all-league catcher on KUA’s baseball team).
Read his full story

Your child could have his or her own PG journey, distinct from Alex’s or Joe’s or Suzie’s. During the college planning process, some families are often surprised to hear of an opportunity to extend the education of a high school student post graduation for an additional year prior to matriculation into a college. This additional year is called a post graduate or PG year. People familiar with the term “PG” often associate this opportunity with athletics or athletic recruiting. However, the PG year can serve many purposes in better preparing a student or student athlete for the academic, social, and athletic rigors of college.

There are significant advantages to taking a PG year.

Students can use this additional year to prolong their opportunity for enhanced academic coursework, begin to integrate into a social environment that supports autonomy and leadership, prepare for and take additional SAT or ACT tests, and extend the college planning and search process in order to find the right fit college. Families might also consider the PG year if there has been a setback (illness, family circumstance) or a late discovery of a learning difference.

Students who choose to engage in a post graduate year can expand their coursework by adding an AP course or advanced writing or research course that they would not have otherwise been able to fit in their twelfth grade year. These courses tend to be rich and more meaningful under the watchful eye of a devoted teacher who, coincidentally, may also serve as the dorm parent or student advisor. The tight-knit community and academic environment in many of the PG schools affords students more discussion and hands on opportunities to delve into a variety of subjects, topics and activities while creating a dynamic social structure that engages students, often beckoning them to become leaders. Students are encouraged to take risks under a watchful community that can help guide the outcomes for those who strive to make a variety of choices to wholly embed themselves in the community.

During the PG year, the ability to prepare for college academically, socially as well as developmentally aids the student in the transition to the rigors and structures of the college environment in a supportive yet challenging manner. Classes tend to be smaller, usually no more than 10-13 in a classroom, and more collaborative. While the coursework might be at higher level, the level of engagement and learning that is fostered in the classroom allows the student to challenge their critical thinking skills or re-consider how they learn in different environments. The ability to thrive in this type of classroom often helps students gain a stronger sense of confidence academically as well as socially. Students often will find unique classes, clubs, community service options or travel experiences that further bolster the robust PG experience.

In extending the college planning process, students can take a longer period of time to discover more colleges through visits, take more time to prepare a thorough application, enhance their academic profile through additional testing and coursework as well as garner meaningful letters of recommendation from a teacher or teachers who get to know students on many levels as they embark on the PG adventure.

Unique to the experience, fewer students are members of a PG class giving them multiple opportunities to lead and grow as a cohort as well as assume responsibilities for personal growth and decision-making. Student athletes often benefit from the PG year in order to continue to mature physically and emotionally, enhance their academic profile, extend the recruiting evaluation process as well as face competition at a higher level in many sports in advance of the collegiate experience.

About The Author

Kim Chorosiewski, Ed.D., CSCS, CMAA