What is a High School Post Grad Year?

This is the first of two posts about high school postgrad programs.  In this post, we’ll consider what a postgrad program is and some reasons why your student might consider one.  In our next post, we’ll look at the benefits of such a program as well as how to help your student know what to expect.

Your student is about to graduate from high school, and she’s ready to head to college in the fall.  Congratulations!

But wait; what if only part of that statement is true?  Your student may be about to graduate from high school, but that doesn’t automatically mean that she’s ready to head to college in the fall. Not all students mature and operate on the same timetable.  More and more students and their parents are considering a postgrad or fifth year of high school to prepare for college.

What is a high school post grad year?

A postgrad year does not mean that your student simply stays in his high school a year longer.  It is not a fifth year because your student has not done well and is not ready to graduate.  A postgrad high school year is a specialized year of school for students who have already earned their high school diploma.  It is most often a year of school spent at an independent high school with a specialized curriculum designed for the experience.

Postgrad experiences have been around for a long time.  They have traditionally existed at New England prep schools for male athletes who need an extra year to improve athletically and to bolster grades.  Recently, however, more schools offer postgrad experiences, more students are applying, including females and non-athletes. According to the Boarding School Review, as many as 146 schools now offer such programs.  A few schools offer day programs as well.

A postgrad program serves as a transitional year for a student to experience living on his own, away from home.  Programs are generally designed for academically strong, motivated students who want to experience new courses, challenges and personal growth.  Programs are often competitive, and schools look for students who have demonstrated academic growth throughout their high school careers and who have demonstrated a positive trend.  The postgrad year allows these students to build on their past experiences.

Why would my student want to consider an extra year of high school?

Students opt for postgrad programs for many reasons.  Your student may consider one or several of the following factors.

  • Your student may need an additional year to gain some maturity to be better able to manage the many facets of college life.
  • Your student may be an athlete who would like an additional year to improve athletically and also to receive more exposure to colleges who might visit the private school to scout.
  • Your student may have experienced a bump in the road or hurdle during high school such a serious illness, a family crisis or family death, that prevented her from achieving the success that she had hoped.
  • Your student may need an additional year to bolster grades, study skills, time management or SAT scores.
  • Your student may need an additional year to explore new interests such as athletics, drama, debate or scientific research.
  • Your student may benefit from the opportunity to use an additional year to distance himself from a particularly poor early year in high school.
  • Your student may be referred to such a program by a college admissions officer who suggests that the year will provide the student with a background to be more successful at college.  Colleges recognize that students who have participated in a postgrad year are less of an admissions risk than some students straight from high school.
  • Your student may want to build his resume, grades, test scores and experiences to be able to apply to a higher tier of college than he may now be able to consider.

A postgrad year is certainly not for every student.  But it is an ideal opportunity for some students.  If you and your student are convinced that this may be a good route to help your student spend an extra year preparing for the transition to college, our next post will help you think more about the benefits of such a program, when to apply, and what to expect.

Related Posts:

Should My Student Consider Deferring Enrollment for College?

Should My Student Consider Taking a Gap Year Before Starting College?

Soft Skills, Strong Success: Fifteen Skills for College Readiness

If your student is in high school, check out our e- 60 Practical Tips for Using the High School Years to Prepare for College Success. This guide is not about getting in to college. It is about how to work now to help your student succeed once they get to college. Open the door and get the conversations started!


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1 thought on “What is a High School Post Grad Year?”

  1. Interesting article with great information. Thank you for sharing! This brings to the forefront several issues that high school grads may be experiencing, with a solution for improvement before embarking on their college careers.


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