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postsecondary education

Why is taking a time out after high school a good idea

Graduating from high school is a time for celebration and making plans for the future. This is a crucial juncture your life, when some major decisions have to be made. In determining where to pursue post-secondary education, it is wise to consider all the options.

By their senior year, many students with college aspirations have already selected an institution (or are close to doing so). Others haven’t made a decision because they are apprehensive, or not prepared or qualified for college. They would benefit from a 13th year of secondary education.

If you are one of these students, you should be aware of the alternative path offered by private postgraduate schools. Their programs are designed to provide an academic bridge to get students through the so-called “gap year” between high school and college.

Reasons to Attend PG School
You might feel that you are just not ready, emotionally or psychologically, to take on the challenges of college life. You may be unsure about being able to succeed academically or cope socially. This is not unusual, as people mature at different rates. Some students need a little more time to grow up. Because boys tend to mature more slowly, they make up a large majority of PG school students.

Perhaps your grades and test scores are not good enough to get you into the institution of your choice. Consider using the gap year to prepare for college-admission tests. Part of that process can be getting good grades in PG school, while taking courses you may have neglected in high school.

If you are a student-athlete trying to win a sports scholarship, or admission to a particular college or university, there are PG schools with sports programs. Performing well on the field or court, as well as in the classroom, during the gap year may improve your chances.

PG School Benefits
These institutions are primarily concerned with preparing high school graduates for college. Their academic programs reinforce, and expand upon, lessons learned in secondary school. They give students a chance to get good marks in subjects that lowered their high school grade-point averages. Some schools offer advanced-placement courses and college-credit classes.

At a PG school, you can expand your general knowledge, upgrade note-taking and other learning skills, and sharpen studying methods. Because most of these institutions are boarding schools, they also provide training in how to live away from home and get along with new people. You will build confidence, develop emotionally, and learn how to handle conflicts.

All the students at a PG school are about the same age, and they have chosen this type of institution for similar reasons. You may find that you have a lot in common with them, and make friends quickly. You might feel more comfortable living at a PG school, rather than in a university dorm with older students.

PG School Options
According to a recent survey, 150 institutions worldwide offered postgraduate school programs. Nearly all are in the United States, Canada, and Europe. Most of them are private schools that added a 13th grade. The only institution established exclusively as a PG school, the Brighton Academy in Maine, is for those intending to enter the U.S. Naval Academy.

While most PG schools are co-ed, a number of them admit only boys or girls. A majority of those designed for boys are military academies, institutes, and boot camps. There are about 25 private, military boarding schools (including some with girls’ and co-ed programs) in the United States and Canada. Other boys’ schools with PG programs include the Kiski and Phelps schools in Pennsylvania, the Salisbury and South Kent schools in Connecticut, and the Trinity-Pawling School in New York.

Among the institutions with PG schools exclusively for girls are the Emma Willard School in New York, Ethel Walker School in Connecticut, Foxcroft School in Virginia, Grier School and Linden Hall in Pennsylvania, Miss Hall’s School and Stoneleigh-Burnham School in Massachusetts, and Oldfield’s School and St. Timothy’s School in Maryland.

Some of these institutions infuse their academics with the teachings of various religions. There are Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Lutheran, Episcopal, Seventh Day Adventist, and other faith-based private schools (some of which offer PG programs).

Some private schools are created for students pursuing visual and performing arts, writing, architecture, fashion, interior design, and other disciplines. There are schools that cater to student-athletes by offering baseball, basketball, football, golf, soccer, softball, tennis, track, or volleyball teams. Also available are institutions with accommodations and programs for students with special needs due to physical disabilities, learning disorders, and other issues.

Many students start college before they are really ready for it. More than half of them never graduate. PG schools offer high school graduates another year of studies to better prepare them for college.

Do your homework in selecting a PG school. Tuition rates, as well as the cost of room and board, vary widely. Some employ different teaching methods than others. The courses are not the same, either, so it is important to fully research schools’ programs. Assistance in choosing a private school is available from the Independent Educational Consultants Association.