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Oakes's Corner

The PG year

By Oakes Hunnewell, Ed.M., CEP


Are you experiencing anxiety at the thought of going to college?

Do you wish that you had an additional year of grades to submit to prospective colleges?

Did you experience an event in high school that may have negatively affected your academic performance?

Are you having difficulty completing homework assignments and staying on task in school?

Do you find it hard to structure your free time?

Do you want to play sports at the college level but think you may need to work on your skills and/or body development for an additional year?

If any of these questions relate to you, you may want to consider a post graduate year.  What is a post graduate or PG year?  For many who are not familiar with boarding schools, the term may be foreign.  A PG year is a 13th year of high school.  Post graduate programs operate at select boarding schools.  The size of PG programs vary.  Some schools have very few, four or five students.  Others have a large number, twenty five to thirty.  Often the size of the school will dictate the number of post graduates enrolled in the program but not always.  Some programs treat their post graduates as an extension of the senior class with the same course offerings.  Others will have a separate curriculum so that the PGs may take more electives and seminars.  In all there are over 100 boarding schools throughout the US and in Europe that offer a post graduate year.  

In a society that places a high value on a college education, many students choose to spend an extra year honing their skills before taking on the many challenges that will confront them in college.  The academic and social freedoms are sometimes too much for a 17 year old.  The demands on the athletic field may also require them to rethink their start date.  A PG year can serve many purposes for students with varying needs but the common reason for choosing to take an extra year is to further their development before entering college.

The purpose is for personal growth.  While in some cases, a PG year will enable a student to apply to a list of more selective colleges, more often than not, the list won’t change much.  As one Director of Marketing and Communications at post graduate school, states “while many kids used to do a pg year with the hope of polishing their resumes and taking another shot at admission to the Ivy League, that may not be realistic in today’s super-competitive admissions game. One semester isn’t going to overcome four years of mediocrity”.  One year, on the other hand, will give a student “ample time to hone study skills, mature emotionally, and define goals. It will provide students a transition year with the independence of college living and the structure of a small, attentive high school.”

Bridgton Academy-


Bridgton Academy is an all boys, one year post graduate school situated in southwestern Maine. Bridgton has many unique features. One of them is that it is the only stand alone post graduate program in the country. While students at other post graduate programs join a school with an already established student body, the transition at Bridgton is much simpler as there aren’t the social pressures that come with having to join a campus with returning students. Choosing to attend a post graduate program is often difficult for high school seniors as they see their classmates selecting the college or university they will attend the following year. Seniors going down that road often feel that they are committing to an additional year of high school with rules and younger students to contend with. At Bridgton, though it is a structured environment, students are not in a high school environment. They are amongst their peers, many of whom have similar reasons for choosing a post graduate year.

Many students at Bridgton are athletic. They come to study and to play sports at a very high level in preparation for college. Not all are athletes though. A large number have chosen Bridgton for other reasons highlighted above.

The Bridgton campus has the feel and look of a quintessential New England village with its white and green buildings scattered around the campus. There are dormitories, a library, a student union, an academic support center and a very active college counseling office. In addition, Bridgton has fields, a hockey rink and gym for its athletic teams. The daily schedule is very much like the schedule at a traditional high school. Classes take place in the morning and early afternoon followed by sports and a variety of other extra-curricular activities. The courses offered are a blend of traditional upper level high school courses mixed in with a number of elective classes. The offerings are meant to suit the needs of each individual student and his particular circumstance. Students may also earn college credit.

For a more detailed description of why Bridgton is a good option for some, please view the Bridgton Top Ten link below.

For further questions, please feel free to contact me by phone at (508) 650-4600 or by email at You may also contact Chris Webb, Director of Admission, at 207-647-3322.