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Graduating high school is a monumental moment in a person’s life. It’s an incredible accomplishment and often the gateway to freedom, independence, and choosing your path for the rest of your life. While people look forward to that day anxiously for years, people often worry about what comes after it. With college admissions becoming more and more difficult, immediately matriculating to a university may not be the right move for you. If for whatever reason you are unable to or choose not to immediately enroll in a university, there are other options for you to take. One of those options is a secondary school, or a college prep school.

Why Choose a Preparatory School?

There are many reasons a person might choose to enroll in a post-graduate year at a secondary school. If you didn’t achieve the grades you wanted to gain admission into a particular college, you can take a year to work on your grades and your extracurriculars and reapply to the college of your dreams. If you skipped a grade and don’t feel ready to go to university and be on your own, you can take a year to mature a bit more and get used to the idea. If you’re determined to play collegiate athletics, there’s a spot for you too! These schools can help kids that didn’t quite make the cut to work on their skills until they make the collegiate team of their choice. Post-graduates may also choose to attend a prep school if they attended a huge high school and need more one-on-one attention to develop certain skills for college.

Whatever reason applies to you, there is a prep school specifically for your needs. Bridgton Academy is a secondary school that caters to boys that wish to attend the Naval Academy but didn’t quite make the cut right out of high school. Tilton School is a coed boarding school and secondary school designed to help post-graduates and kids 9-12th grades achieve top grades while improving their athletics.

How Can a Prep School Help Me?

Prep schools provide a wide range of ways to work on your skills and your resume before applying to the colleges you want to attend. These schools can help post-graduates improve their grades through tutoring or can encourage students to take more challenging courses. Prep schools can also give students a little extra time to warm up to university, especially if there was a family tragedy in the recent past.

According to Admissions Quest, a post-graduate year can give students “confidence, maturity, and time. Having chosen to invest extra time and effort in their education, post-graduates enter their [post-graduate] year with a clarity of purpose: they invest themselves because they want to do well.”

How Do Prep Schools Look on College Applications?

According to Lisa Antell, a former admissions director at Bridgton Academy, “College admission officers appreciate any program or course of study that’s going to enhance the chances of that student’s success upon matriculation. Colleges know in getting a post-graduate student that, chances are, he’s been away from home; he’s developed independence. Chances are he will be less of an admission risk than a student coming straight out of high school.”

Prep schools allow students to have a taste of the independence offered in university without diving fully in. Often you live away from home in a dormitory setting with a roommate, just like college. This independence tells colleges you are a mature student that can make decisions for yourself, putting your application above other less mature students.

Also, a main focus for these prep schools is that post-graduates can work closely with advisors and college counseling officers. This personalized focus will help shape their post-graduate year and allow advisors and mentors to know the students well enough to write them quality recommendations to the colleges of their choice.

Your Experience

Like high schools and universities, post-graduate schools come in all different shapes and sizes. Some secondary schools are part of a boarding school and have few differences from high school. These schools often educate 9-12th graders, just like high school, but have an extra ‘grade’ for post-graduate students. Other secondary schools, like Bridgton Academy only cater to post-graduate students and will have a different schedule and level of freedom.

Prep schools also exist outside of boarding schools. Most of these secondary schools request students live on campus, but some day schools offer secondary education as well. Without the communal living experience, many day schools differ exponentially from boarding style post-graduate schools. Day schools, like the Newman School in Boston, will focus more on academics and less on maturity, social growth, and athletics simply because they don’t have the time or environment. Now if academics is the only thing you need to work on, a day school might be the right fit for you (and probably less expensive for your parents). If you do choose a day school, it will probably feel like an extra year of high school with a little more freedom in which academic areas you want to improve on.

Whatever you choose, prep schools can be instrumental in helping you accomplish your dreams. Applying to a prep school is similar to applying to colleges: do your research, talk with admissions officers, and fill out an application and you might find the perfect school for your post-graduate year.

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