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What is the point of a Post-Graduate year? Is a school offering one a positive or a negative?

WorkingManWorkingMan 12 replies6 threads Junior Member
One of the schools my kid is accepted at offers a "post-graduate" year. What exactly is the point of this? As does having such an option negatively impact the regular grade 9-12 kids at the school?

The only reason I have heard why anyone would want to add a 13th year of high school would be for a poorly performing student of wealthy parents who wants an extra year to raise grades and maybe get into a better college.

It seems ridiculous that a school would even offer such an option, because I interpret it as an encouragement for students to slack. It should go without saying that graduates of a prep school should be ready to study at college.

I also worry that "postgraduate" students are going to expect a more freewheeling environment that a university might offer, specifically with alcohol and whatnot, and would introduce bad behavior to the rest of the students at the school.

I'd really like to hear from other parents (and students) about this, because I can only negatives with a postgraduate year and the fact that a school offers one is making me seriously reconsider that school.
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Replies to: What is the point of a Post-Graduate year? Is a school offering one a positive or a negative?

  • mairlodimairlodi 55 replies4 threads Junior Member
    Students who take a PG year are often, but not always, athletes who have graduated from often a public high school but want another year to play their sport in high school, either hoping to be recruited to a better college or because they have already been recruited to start the next year but have been asked by the college coach to spend another year developing athletically (and maybe academically) in high school.

    Having PGs affects the athletes the most. It may be harder to start on a varsity team with a number of PGs. Certain sports are more likely to have PGs than others.

    There are plenty of kids at prep school who are older due to repeat years, which are not uncommon when starting prep school. So PGs are not necessarily older, or much older, than the other seniors.

    I am not aware of PGs having attended that same prep school for 9-12. They almost always come in to prep school for 1 year, after graduating from high school elsewhere. I am not aware of prep school kids going on to do a PG year at another prep school, although I suppose it could happen.
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  • CaliMexCaliMex 1889 replies34 threads Senior Member
    We know a kid who did a PG year because she attended our local arts magnet high school and spent every minute outside of academics on her musical instrument. When she decided against applying to conservatories for college, she realized she needed a stronger academic base to succeed (grades were fine but coursework less than rigorous since she had assumed she wanted to be a professional musician). A PG year at a New England prep school was just the ticket.
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  • CTMom21CTMom21 501 replies2 threads Member
    My son’s school has PGs and there’s really no detriment. They are there typically for a combination of athletic and academic development and have graduated from public (or perhaps private — not 100% sure) high school — not the same school. He’s had a PG on his fall varsity team each year and sure, they take a spot, but it’s no different than if an older student (including a kid who had repeated earlier) is recruited and gets a spot.

    A kid who makes the decision to do a 5th year of high school typically has a specific goal and is very focused and mature. In my son’s experience they are not the kids who screw up and get in trouble. There are some pretty old kids at BS and the grade they’re in is invisible and makes little difference.
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  • Sue22Sue22 6438 replies115 threads Senior Member
    Seconding @mairlodi's post. The only downside I've seen to students at schools with PGs is that if your kid is an athlete they can be displaced from their position by an athletic superstar PG.
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  • busymommyof4busymommyof4 126 replies19 threads Junior Member
    The PGs at my school were often there as part of a college prep program for the naval academy. I know a few who are now very high up in the military ranks! They were great additions to the school!
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  • WorkingManWorkingMan 12 replies6 threads Junior Member
    I hear you skieurope and CTMom21, I would just prefer the school's focus to by on my kid and the other grade 9-12 kids, rather than on bringing in brand new, older students to fill up sports teams or whatnot.

    And what on earth do these "postgraduate" students study? They've already finished high school. Do they go back and take harder classes? (if so, why didn't they do that in the first place?) Do they just do a bunch of athletics and try to get noticed by a recruiter? It just seems that the interests of a postgradutate student are not entirely aligned with the rest of the student body, and I'd prefer schools focus on their own 12th grade students rather than recruit a bunch of 12th grade re-treads. This is seriously causing me to rethink what had been a top choice for my child
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  • gardenstategalgardenstategal 6127 replies10 threads Senior Member
    I personally know two kids who went to BS and then went to another BS for a PG year. Both were decent students and both were football players and both are playing in college.

    As noted above, PG students can limit access to varsity teams. They can also make them better and more competitive, so depending on where you are on the athletic spectrum, it could be good or bad.

    The downside to the "worldliness" of the PG students is felt mostly by them. They abide by the rules of the BS while their previous classmates are unsupervised frosh at college.

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  • CTMom21CTMom21 501 replies2 threads Member
    Having PGs doesn’t take the focus away from any one kid any less than the presence of any other kid does. A PG who is working toward being recruited is no different than any other junior or senior who is doing the same. Personally, I realize that there are kids who are better, more recruitable athletes than my son and are going to get more attention in that regard, but having PGs on his team has only enhanced the experience — they’ve been good players, students and leaders. There are relatively few PGs — a handful, not a full class — and you wouldn’t necessarily know who they are.
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  • sgopal2sgopal2 3539 replies49 threads Senior Member
    My son went to Lawrenceville. The PGs there were treated similarly to 12th grade students. They took similar classes, and were even housed in the senior dorm. A majority of the PGs are there for athletic reasons.
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  • hellomaisyhellomaisy 206 replies7 threads Junior Member
    edited March 2019
    @CTMom21 has it exactly right.

    I really think you are overthinking this. It is a very small handful of highly qualified students, who are there to work hard and be better college candidates. At our school, there are 10 or fewer on any given year. Hardly a dominating force on any of the sports teams (we've had football and basketball players, sure, but also squash, swimming, track, and volleyball.). They are expected to abide by the rules, and sometimes those rules are even stricter for them... for example, at our school they are required to go to supervised study hall for the first term, something that the other seniors don't have to do. Don't most elite BS have PG programs? If you're going to exclude a school because they offer admission to a handful of kids who want to be there to take advanced math or english or take an additional year to mature per their US Service Academy (Navy and Army do this a LOT), then you might find yourself with a small pool of schools to choose from.
    edited March 2019
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  • CateCAParentCateCAParent 320 replies5 threads Member
    New here -- have seen this debated before on CC, and I think it is interesting. I will play devil's advocate (don't really have a dog in this hunt, to mix metaphors): with the number of students who repeat a grade, and PGs, combined could it skew the vibe of a school older, and make it harder for a age-typical student to perform "at grade level" with his class -- in sports or math or whatever?

    I worry that the trend of having older students might have unintended consequences. Older students are delayed getting into college, which delays them in the work force, which impacts their ability to pay off student loans sooner, and retire on time. Not to mention, the older, more mature students probably have an advantage getting into competitive colleges over the younger ones -- which then may make parents want to hold their kids back to compete.

    There oughtta be a study out there somewhere on the impact of aging up kids in school -- it isn't just a BS school thing -- it goes all the way back to red-shirting kindergartners. To me it is all related. And now that it is normal, there isn't really any going back.

    When we toured BS's a year ago, I remember seeing some extremely adult-looking student athletes. They looked 20-ish -- entirely possible if they were old for their grade to start, and then take a 5th year. They stuck out. That has to be a little weird/awkward -- both for the PGs, and for the younger student sitting next to him (most PGs are boys, I think, right?). There could be a 3-4 year swing in age between a young senior and the PG. That must impact the classroom dynamic somehow.

    Not trying to judge anyone -- of course being a PG is the absolutely right thing for some students. The amateur sociologist in me finds the overall trend interesting, is all. A corollary issue for me is: should athletics drive these very important scholastic decisions that impact people (and our communities) for the rest of their lives, even if they never play professionally? I agree -- athletics are super important, even critical, for some students, but how important should they be?
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  • WorkingManWorkingMan 12 replies6 threads Junior Member
    CateCAParent: I think you have some good points. I also think there are lots of ways to spend a gap year, if that is what one needs, other than continuing with another high school year. For the schools, it could be example of athletics influencing the school a bit too much rather than the other way around.

    And yes I am concerned about the over-aged, poor-academic performing jock riding out his "postgraduate" year with kids who may be substantially younger. Not the kind of influence on a school that I'm looking for.
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  • skieuropeskieurope 40087 replies7404 threads Super Moderator
    edited March 2019
    I hear you skieurope and CTMom21, I would just prefer the school's focus to by on my kid and the other grade 9-12 kids, rather than on bringing in brand new, older students to fill up sports teams or whatnot.
    Not all schools have PGs, but the ones that do, PGs are relatively small in number. If that distracts from your kid's experience, then perhaps that school is not right for him/her.
    And what on earth do these "postgraduate" students study?
    They are equivalent to repeating seniors and take senior courses. The English and History electives for seniors at these schools are light years past the AP Lit class at the LPS. And the STEM-offerings are far beyond those at the LPS. So in no instance will they be repeating material.
    12th grade re-treads
    Many schools, even those without PGs, have students that started as repeat 9th or 10th graders, up to 30% at some schools. So age-wise, these PGs have plenty of company.

    And while it is true that a PG may bump an existing student off the varsity squad, the student bumped was not good enough for varsity, to be blunt.
    edited March 2019
    Post edited by skieurope on
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  • CaliMexCaliMex 1889 replies34 threads Senior Member
    May I ask why it is okay for kids to repeat 9th or 10th, but not 12th?
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  • cababe97cababe97 427 replies37 threads Member
    I really wouldn’t overthink the post graduate concept. Please don’t let it deter you from a school. There where typically a very small number of post graduates, so it doesn’t make that much of an impact. Some of my greatest friends have been post grads, and young students often look up to them as mentors. I have never encountered a pg who was lazy or just didn’t work hard enough to get into college, using the post grad year as a fall back. The post grads I have encountered are hardworking and talented kids who serve as leaders and productive members of the school community.
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  • ChoatieMomChoatieMom 5403 replies258 threads Senior Member
    edited March 2019
    @bobtaft just got accepted to Exeter as a PG with financial aid. Perhaps he could enlighten us a bit though I hope he won't be offended by some of the preconceived notions expressed here.
    edited March 2019
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