The "gap year" is more popular than ever, with thousands of students taking an interim year between high school and college to pursue a passion, do meaningful volunteer work, or explore a new culture. However, some students feel that an academic gap year is the best way to spend the year. They know that an academic year will help them to improve their grades and SAT scores, have a taste of structured independence and develop study and writing skills.
For many of these students, a "post-graduate year" at a boarding school is a wonderful option. Over 1400 students are currently enrolled as "PG" students at boarding schools in the US, Canada, and Europe. The PGs have graduated from their local high school, and come to boarding school to join the senior class and to be part of the tight group of PGs on campus. These popular members of the school community are able to participate in varsity athletics and extracurricular activities and have access to the school's college admissions counselors.
PG programs are varied in terms of academics and social life.
Just as colleges have different levels of academic rigor and a variety of social settings, PG programs also have differences and should be evaluated carefully. Strong students can enroll at highly selective boarding schools where they can take upper-level classes and experience the grind of three to four hours of homework a night. This rigorous academic environment will prepare them for the fast pace and independence of a strong academic program at college. Students who have struggled in high school can join a PG program that offers the support which will prepare them for success in college. This can include sessions at a learning center, structured study halls, and teachers who will seek them out to offer help and assistance on assignments and papers. From a student life point of view, there are PG programs in co-ed and single-sex schools, and large and small schools, located in rural or suburban areas. A PG student can attend a physically challenging military school, a New England boarding school near the ski resorts, or a European boarding school in an old university town, among other choices.
Many more girls are doing a PG year.
The PG year has been around for over 50 years and was originally geared toward boys who were preparing for the service academies, hoping to improve athletic abilities in order to get a college coach's attention, or for those who needed to improve maturity, study skills, and academic abilities before embarking on college. While many boys are still enrolling in PG programs for those reasons, they are now joined by girls who are doing a PG year primarily for academic reasons. With college admissions seeming to get more competitive each year, the PG year is a good choice for both boys and girls who want to improve their academic profile before college.
College admissions deans like the PG year.
A year spent on academics and structured independence usually means a more prepared and mature college student. College admissions officers recognize that the PG year offers many benefits to a student and will ultimately make him not only a better candidate for admission but a better student once he is on campus. Every year, PG graduates are accepted at schools ranging from Ivy League universities to supportive liberal arts schools and everything in between.
About the author: Kristin White is an educational consultant and the author of The Complete Guide to the Gap Year: The Best Things To Do Between High School and College
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