‘PG Year’ Explained: How a Post-Graduate Year Can Help

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Have you ever heard of a PG or post-graduate year? Not many people have. And in some cases, a PG year can be very beneficial to high school seniors. Could it help you?

The first time I came across an application from a PG applicant, I was befuddled.  I was relatively new to college admissions and I had never heard of a PG year.  Red flags started waving when I saw that the student had already graduated from one high school and was enrolled in another.  After a little education from more seasoned colleagues, I quickly learned that the red flags were unnecessary.  The PG year was more common than I knew and presented very real advantages for some students. 

It’s Not Parental Guidance

First things first, what does PG mean?  It’s not like the movie ratings – it’s not an extra year with Parental Guidance advised.  PG, in the world of education, means Post-Graduate, or postgraduate.  It’s essentially an extra year of high school – and not because you failed anything and had to repeat a year.  It’s also not the more widely-known “gap year.” That generally describes a year between high school and college during which a student explores some area of interest whether it be travel, an internship, research, or work. The PG year entails actual enrollment in high school – again.

There are many reasons why a PG year might make sense for some students. I’ll discuss a few of the most popular.  Regardless of the specific reason, almost all point to increasing chances of college admission and success after enrollment. 

RELATED: The Top PG Boarding Schools (via Boarding School Review)

The Academic Late Bloomer

Some students don’t really hit their stride until junior or senior year.  I’m not talking about an upward trend, but students who really “get it” finally. And they look like much more promising students in their senior year. The problem is college admissions offices aren’t likely to take a chance on a student with only one strong year. 

The PG year offers the student an extra year to demonstrate academic potential. By taking more advanced level courses, they can continue to demonstrate that strong, upward trend.

The Social Late Bloomer

Not unlike the academic late bloomer, some students just simply aren’t ready to head away to college when they’re 17 or 18.  These students may just be immature for their age, they may have anxiety issues related to leaving home, or they may need an additional year to work on some executive functioning skills.  A PG year allows these students the extra time to mature, learn some coping skills, or hone some basic life skills needed to transition to living on their own in the college setting. 

The Student Athlete Who Is a Stronger Athlete Than Student…

Some aspiring college athletes may need an extra year in high school to meet NCAA Eligibility Center standards.  Division I and II colleges will not extend an athletic scholarship to any student who does not receive
NCAA Eligibility Center certification.

RELATED: Don’t Fear the Gap Year

Similarly, it would be unlikely for an institution to offer admission to a student athlete who fails to meet eligibility standards. These standards vary slightly between divisions but essentially students must pass all “core academic classes.” This includes Algebra I and an NCAA-calculated GPA of at least a 2.0 in core classes. The student must also achieve a certain score on the SAT/ACT.  So if a student didn’t pass Algebra I or scored below a certain SAT number, they could use a PG year. They’ll improve their academic record or standardized test scores, and hopefully increase their chances of admission and an athletic scholarship.

And The Student Athlete Who Is a Stronger Student Than Athlete

Conversely, some students rocked it in the classroom and were really, really good on the field/court/track/mat/lane/etc. But they needed to be really, really, really good in order to be a recruited student athlete at Dreamschool University. These students may feel (or may have been told by coaches) that one more year of physical growth and training will put them in a better position to be recruited at the collegiate level.  The PG year provides the opportunity to achieve this growth and possibly become a recruited student athlete by Dreamschool University. 

Private High Schools

So where does one find schools willing to consider a PG year?  Typically schools offering the PG year are private high schools.  It may not be impossible for a family to work with their public high school to achieve something similar in nature. However, in all of the cases I encountered, the PG year was completed at an independent school. Those schools are free of governmental regulations regarding enrollment. 

Some independent schools are specifically known for their PG programs.  Families will want to discuss options like boarding schools or local schools, along with a conversation about expenses.  This will help direct your search online and with phone calls to Admissions offices. Those counselors will help narrow your options even more.  

Is a PG year something you, or your parents or counselors, have discussed? Would it be beneficial for you? Tell us about it in the comments on Facebook or on Twitter.

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