Panel of Experts

Karl Schellscheidt

SAT Prep Expert

  • BSE, Princeton University '90
  • M.A., Secondary Education Seton Hall University '93
  • J.D., University of Pennsylvania Law School '00

Fred Hargadon

Dean of Admission

  • Swarthmore College
  • Stanford University
  • Princeton University

Don Betterton

Financial Aid Expert

  • Director of Financial Aid, Princeton University (1973-2006)
  • Certified College Planner
  • Principal, Betterton College Planning

Seamus Malin

Admission Expert

  • Harvard University
    Dir. of Financial Aid
    Asst. Dean of Admission
    International Office Director

The Post Graduate Year

Karl Schellscheidt

college admissions expert advice from eprep.comIncreasingly, seniors in high school consider taking a post-graduate year, or “PG” year, prior to enrolling in college. This means that after graduating from high school, they enroll in another secondary school — typically a “prep” or “private” high school — in order to study one more year before becoming college freshman. Why in the world would anyone ever consider a fifth year of high school before escaping to college? Good question. There are several reasons. Join me in this prepcast as I discuss some of the possible benefits of a post graduate year.

The Post Graduate Year (trascript)

I want to talk to you about something called a post graduate year of high school. It is otherwise known as a “PG year.” When I was a kid I had no idea what a PG year was. However, as an adult I accepted a teaching position at a private school that regularly accepted post-graduate students. That was when I first learned about PGs and PG years. So here’s the deal. A lot of kids try their best in high school and apply to amazing schools. Unfortunately, many fail to gain admission at the schools they really want to attend.

Rather than enroll at a “safety school” or a school they are not thrilled about, some kids decide to do a post graduate year. In other words, rather than enroll at a college they are not happy with, they go and take an extra year of high school at a private high school. This extra year of study, again, is called a post graduate year. During a PG year the fifth-year student is a student like everyone else. However, the PG usually has a reduced course load to make time for other important activities. (By the way, a typical high school senior will take six to seven classes, while a typical PG takes four or five.)

PGs use (or at least they are supposed to use) the extra time during the academic year to, among other things, improve their standardized test scores — usually the ACT or the SAT. Additionally, if they are athletes or participants in other extracurricular activities, they try to hone those extracurricular skills with the hope of getting recruited more seriously by their first-choice colleges.

I have seen a lot of kids over the years apply to colleges with high hopes and expectations. Unfortunately, many get disappointed when they realize how competitive the process really is. Again, rather than settle, they do a PG year. In my experience, limited thought it may be, most kids look back and say that taking the extra year was probably the best thing they could have done for themselves. I look back on my high school and college careers and, to be honest, I think I could have used an extra year before college to mature. Don’t get me wrong; I did get into a great college, but I think I was pretty immature when I arrived as a freshman. If I had taken a PG year, I probably would have gotten more out of my four years in college.

A lot of kids are really immature at the age of 18 and they think, “My entire class is moving on to college; my whole senior class will become freshmen next year and, if I do a PG year, I will fall behind everyone else.” My response is this: Don’t worry about that and don’t think like that. Most of the people that you were friends with in high school you are not going to see again regularly anyway. High school offers a clean break. As your classmates go off in their own directions, don’t be afraid to do the same. The bottom line is this: whether you finish college at the age of twenty-two or twenty-three is immaterial. Put another way, your age at retirement is not likely to depend on whether you graduated from college and began working at the age of 22 or 23. You have decades to work after college.

If taking a PG year means possibly getting into the school you really want to go to, I think it is worth it. There you have it; you now know what a PG year is. Welcome to the club. Think about it; it might be something you can take advantage of and it might, ultimately, change the course of the rest of your life for the better.

Karl Schellscheidt
ePrep, Inc.

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