By Maddie Aitken ’19
This year, we have 14 postgraduate students at The Gunnery. “PGs,” as they’re known here, are students that have already graduated from another high school and will spend a year at a prep school before going to college. Students choose to do PG years for a number of reasons, whether they want another year to improve athletically so they can get recruited to a college or a year to work on their organization and study skills before heading off to college. Some students feel they need one more year to mature before college, while others just want to experience a new environment. The PGs are always interesting people, but this year is especially unique because there are 14 of them.
The Gunnery usually has between roughly five and eight PGs in any given year, according to Mrs. Day, Associate Director of Admissions, so 14 is definitely high. “It sort of just shook out this year that we had more really strong PG applicants and we had a smaller senior class so we felt like we had room for them,” said Mrs. Day.
One major change the high number of PGs precipitated is the addition of PG advisors. Mr. Gritti and Ms. Goldsmith, who is also an Assistant Director of Admissions, are filling those roles this year. Ms. Goldsmith explained that the PG advisors are another resource for PGs, and their goal is to help the PGs navigate how to access the resources available to them, since they have to do it more quickly than other students. Mrs. Day added, “I think having the volume that we do this year, it was a great opportunity to just give them the chance to have some camaraderie amongst themselves as well and some guidance from faculty.”
Mrs. Day said PGs always come from both public schools and other prep schools. For students that attended a public high school, they might feel they’re not quite ready for college and would like to have a year in a private school environment with additional attention. But, said Mrs. Day, there are students that come from independent schools that are also looking to get in that one more year before college. “And that may be because they’re looking to have additional time athletically in their sport, some may be looking more for working academically on study skills and things that might help them be more successful in college, and sometimes, it’s a combination. Probably more often it’s a combination.”
Will Prentice ‘19 of Los Angeles came to The Gunnery to get an extra year of academics in before college. He looked at a lot of prep schools and was drawn to The Gunnery for its balance, as well as our community. “It seemed like a very progressive community and sort of alternative in some ways.” He said The Gunnery differs from his previous high school and what he expects to see in college in that there is more academic support, but believes that his college classes will be similarly sized to the ones he is taking here. “Overall, I think it’s going to be a pretty easy adjustment from this year to college,” said Prentice. When asked what he’s most excited about for this year, he said getting into college and being able to start pursuing his dream of being a paralegal for immigrants in California.
Even though there is a high number of PGs this year, Mrs. Day said we’re not intentionally trying to grow our PG program, and that in future years, it will flow with the size of the senior class and the spaces they have available to offer. “We have a very big junior class this year so we’re not thinking that we’ll have that many spaces for PGs next year. The number of PGs year to year is something that’s going to just happen organically based on the nature of our applicant pool and returning students.”
Ms. Goldsmith said she thinks gap years in general have been gaining popularity, and believes that may contribute to the upward trend of PG applicants here at The Gunnery. “Our PGs decided that the best environment for them for a gap year would be an academic environment and one where they can continue to explore the things that they hope to continue to do but also have more experiences of growth outside of the classroom and outside of the athletic realm.” This year, we were lucky to get 14 of them, even if that number decreases in the future. Ms. Goldsmith stressed the fact that all the PGs are here for different reasons, and wants to encourage students to ask them why they’re here and learn about where they’ve come from and where they want to go.