What is a Postgraduate Year?
Today, many of us are familiar with the idea of a gap year after high school graduation. Although little data is kept on the exact number of students taking a gap year, many sources report that gap years' popularity has been on the rise over the past couple of years. It's estimated that in 2015, 22% more students took a gap year than in the year prior.
Although many young adults use this time to explore, intern or work, or deepen personal awareness, gap years can be much more prosperous when used to continue developing certain skills.
What is a Post-Graduate Year?
A postgraduate (PG) year refers to the academically-minded gap year spent at a private or independent school, post- high school graduation, in order to strengthen candidacy for admission and potential for success in college.
In other words, this type of gap year allows students to further cultivate their skills, academically or socially, to better prepare for college.
What to Know About a Post-Graduate Year
Before going off and applying to the first school with a PG program that you find, there are a few things to consider about a postgraduate education:
- It's challenging. The postgraduate year is meant to build academic ability and character; therefore, programs tend to be more challenging than some may expect coming out of a high school environment. At the same time, your friends may be going off to college at this time, which can create more of a mental and emotional challenge.
- It's not for everyone. It's important to consider that a gap year, especially a postgraduate year, may not be for everyone. If you're considering a postgraduate year, it's important to take into account the advantage and disadvantages in relation to your main focus area.
- It's unique to you. A postgraduate gap year is a big decision - and the decision should come from you, the student. Your gap year experience is what you make it; no two gap years are alike and you shouldn't be guided or influenced by what your peers are doing. The postgraduate year is most rewarding when you focus on your own personal growth and goals.
- Colleges love the PG year. From liberal arts colleges to Ivy League across the nation, the PG year is typically and indicator to college admissions teams that students are serious about their growth. The benefits of a postgraduate year usually include an all-around better candidate and future student.
Why Pursue a Post-Graduate Year?
There are many reasons that high school graduates may choose to pursue a PG year. Traditionally, a PG year at a private school was pursued by male athletes looking to cultivate their skills to improve recruitment opportunities. Today, PG years are pursued for many other reasons.
Reasons to Pursue a Post-Graduate Year
Extend the college planning process. Whether it's because you're unsure of which college is right for you or because you didn't get into your first-choice school right away, taking a PG year at an independent school allows you to continue working with college counselors to find and get accepted to the right college for you.
- Extend the college planning process.Whether it’s because you’re unsure of which college is right for you or because you didn’t get in to the college of your choice right away, a popular reason for taking a PG year at an independent school is to continue working with college counselors to find and get accepted to the right college for you.
- Pursue a passion. You may choose to use the year beyond high school to study fine arts, languages, or even work on research projects that are not directly related to the academic curriculum.
- Pursue a sport. Of course, many students still choose to pursue a PG year to increase their physical training and get noticed by top college recruiters. As recommended by legendary Yale Head Coach Jim Wilson, student-athletes can (and should!) use this additional year to become more well-rounded scholars; cultivating skills, talents, and interests beyond sports.
- Take more advanced academic courses. The postgraduate year is a great opportunity to take courses that may not fit in your senior curriculum. It is the perfect time to take advanced classes. Hun's average class size is just 14 students, so you may have much more support than in a public high school.
- Improve grades. Taking academic classes doesn't always mean more advanced courses. Some students choose to retake courses or take classes that will help them improve their SAT scores. Either way, taking this additional year to improve grades can be a great advantage to get into more competitive schools.
- Prepare for college. A PG year at a boarding school provides the structure of a college, but with greater support from teachers and mentors. Students are able to practices skills such as time management, school/life balance, and social skills that are crucial to success in college and beyond.
Benefits of a Post-Graduate Year
There are many advantages to taking a gap year, especially a postgraduate year at an independent school. Commonly discussed advantages include:
- Extended college readiness
- Academic improvement
- Increased athletic opportunities
- Greater social, emotional, and mental development
However, the biggest advantage to the PG year is simple: growth.
No matter what your main focus is, the tight-knit community of a postgraduate education will help you learn and grow in a collaborative environment, tackle challenges with confidence, and explore new subjects you may have never considered.
Research shows that more than 90% of students who have taken a gap year say it:
- Helped them develop as a person
- Allowed time for personal reflection
- Increased maturity
- Increased self-confidence
- Developed culturally-diverse social skills
- Developed communication skills
- Increased cultural interest & respect
The benefits of a postgraduate year are clear and considerable. If you're seriously considering a postgraduate year, there will be more benefits specific to your interest, learning style, and lifestyle that you'll need to take into account as well.
Where to Take a Post-Graduate Year
Many students choose to consider their postgraduate year at the same independent school where they completed their high school education. This is especially common for athletes, since there is some familiarity with the program and faculty.
However, it's perfectly common for students to choose a different school at which to pursue their PG year, especially if they're looking for a wider variety of courses. Other students choose schools that are a better fit with their core interests. For example, a student may choose to spend their gap year at a military school, a boarding school in another country, or a schools whose geographic area is a better fit for cultivating their interests.
Post-Graduate Year at The Hun School
If you're considering a postgraduate education, consider The Hun School. Located in the heart of Princeton, NJ, and close to the metro areas of New York City and Philadelphia, The Hun School offers a strong, academically-focused gap year that offers many opportunities for students to develop skills and prepare for college.
To learn more about our postgraduate gap year program in Princeton, NJ, contact our admissions team today: