Today’s Quiz – Men’s D1 Basketball Transfer %

Question:     What % of all men’s basketball players who enter Division I directly out of high school depart their initial school by the end of their sophomore year?

 

 

 

Answer:     40%

Here’s the link to the complete article on the NCAA website.

http://www.ncaa.org/about/resources/research/tracking-transfer-division-i-men-s-basketball

 

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Looking Back: Michael Wright – Missed Opportunities

As a college freshman, Michael Wright made an immediate impact on the football team. He became a starter after only one game before getting hurt and missing most of the season. In his second year, he picked up right where he left off. Not only is he starting as a redshirt freshman, he’s far and away the team’s best receiver. No one else is even close.

Most would say this is great and that in deciding on his current university he made the right choice. After all, he’s having the kind of success that every athlete and parent hopes for, but few ever find. He’s a star who’s going to have a great career. Everyone’s happy and excited. On the surface, it’s hard to argue with that. Let’s take a closer look.

Despite seemingly obvious talent, Michael had few options coming out of HS. Playing in a small town with limited exposure and support, not many colleges showed interest. At that point, prep school was an option. In the spring of his senior year he finally received a partial offer from one of the lowest D1 FBS teams. Ready to take it, he then received a full offer from a decent FBS program. Once he got those offers, his interest in prep school ended. He took the second scholarship offer, saying it was a great opportunity. On the surface, it was hard to argue with that. This kid from a difficult background was going to play D1 ball while getting a free education. Isn’t that the goal?

Prep school would have been a dramatically better choice. Here’s why:

  1. Better Education   (This is supposed to be most important, right?)
    1. He would have gotten two much better, life changing educations
      1. Prep School
        1. He would have attended one of the top five academic prep school in the world
          1. He would have learned to be a better student
            1. He would have been better prepared to get higher grades in college.
      2. College
        1. The prep school education would have propelled him to a much better academic college
          1. He would be at an Ivy or Patriot League school, or a place like Rice, Boston College or similar
            1. The college he’s attending now provides an average education
  2. Incredible Connections
    1. Prep school and college
      1. He would have made incredible contacts that would last a lifetime
        1. His friends would have been the kids who will be running this country twenty years from now
          1. He’s not getting anything close to that at his college
  3. Higher level of college ball
    1. This was a given after a year of prep school
      1. His immediate success at his current school likely proves that he could play at a much higher level
        1. Instead of playing for a non-noteworthy school, he could be playing at a big time school like Vanderbilt, Boston College, Northwestern etc.
  4. Better life preparation and perspective
    1. The extra year of maturity is an invaluable one time opportunity

This is not second guessing. This has nothing to do with the success he’s found at college. These were the options, and this was all discussed, from the start. The success he’s had only reinforces the point.

Some families would have taken the prep school option. Why didn’t Michael’s? Perhaps they didn’t listen to the right people. Or maybe, contrary to what he said, he just didn’t believe in enough in himself and his talent.

It’s not that this was a bad decision, it’s that there was a much better one. He and his family could have had so much more. They had an asset, an investment, that they failed to get the most out of. All parents want their child to develop as fully as possible. The Wrights missed an opportunity to do this. They also missed out on tangible benefits. It’s pretty easy to make the case that Michael’s lifetime earnings will be dramatically lower than they would have been if he’d opted for prep school.

 

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PG Injury Concern

Many considering a PG year believe that the risk of significant injury is a major argument against a PG year. That’s understandable, especially for those who hold full scholarship offers. Injuries get everyone’s attention. They’re very visceral, and that makes them hard to ignore, but there are two reasons to do just that. Here’s why injury concern should not be a significant factor when deciding on a PG year.

 

1)  Injuries are not the problem they used to be.

  • Medical science has changed.  It’s not like it was when today’s parents were kids. The days of career ending injuries are mostly over. Even a blown-out knee is no longer career ending. Athletes have surgery and are back on the field sooner and sooner. Consequently, college coaches are not scared off by that type of thing like they might have been in the past.
  • Prep schools can overcome significant injuries. The right prep school has the clout and the right coach has the recruiting experience and connections to get scholarships for kids who miss all or most of an entire season.

Two years ago Andy had no offers out of high school. He went to a prep school with a very good program but missed the entire season due to injury. Nonetheless, he ended up receiving a full ride to a good D2 school that also offered a much better education than he would have otherwise received. While not his D1 dream, that’s still more than he had out of high school. Some years before Andy, Harry was in a similar situation. He, too, had no offers out of high school. He played the first two games of the year before stepping on someone’s foot and spending the next two months in a cast. He still had his choice of three mid-level D1 offers.

Part of the reason these players were able to overcome their injuries is that a PG year offers more than just another school season. It also offers another summer recruiting period. Like it or not, these days that’s just as important. By playing well in the summer before they ever got to school they helped insure they would get the offers they so badly wanted.

2)  There are other risks, with a much greater chance of happening, that need to be managed, but are being ignored. These are what should influence the thinking of families.

  • Transfers are a virtual epidemic these days. A shocking percentage of kids are not finishing at the school they started at. Despite the spin you hear on it, that’s not good. Nobody commits to a school with the expectation of transferring (except those hoping to transfer up. That’s a whole different mistake for another blog.). The right PG decision reduces this possibility.
  • Not getting playing time. This has always been part of the equation, and it always will be. A certain percentage of kids will always sit. It’s the nature of a competitive team. Some will never play. Some will play after a year or two. A PG year reduces the chance of both options significantly.
  • Some athletes will fail or struggle academically in school. People think this applies only to students who were weak students when they entered college, but it also happens to good students, especially those attending the elite educational universities. People don’t understand the time and commitment demands of scholarship level sports. Consequently they fail to anticipate the strain that puts on classwork. There is no such thing as too much preparation, even for the very best students. A PG year provides that preparation.

The concern of injury is a little like those who are afraid of flying. While the statistics say flying is much safer than other methods of travel, some people simply can’t get the fear of flying out of their minds. Fight the urge to let to let fear of injury make your decision about a PG year. It’s a bad thought process.

There are no guarantees in this world, although it’s human nature to want them. If you’re starting with the thought that any scenario, such as having an offer in hand, means you’ve got a guarantee, you’re starting from the wrong perspective. Families need to understand this and act accordingly.

It would be unfair to say there’s no injury risk in a PG year. There is, but it’s not the risk most think it is, the chances are too small to pay attention to, and there are other risks that you’re not addressing that should be of greater concern. These are what should dictate your decision.

 

 

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The Two Biggest Overlooked Benefits of Prep School

The education and the athletic program are the two things virtually every family focuses on when considering prep school for their student-athlete. Most families can’t even process all the information in those two categories, so it’s no surprise that they overlook two other really big benefits when considering the value of prep school.

 

1)  Connections

Why do you think some families are readily willing to pay $55,000 for one year of prep school? It isn’t just the great education, or the great athletics. It’s the contacts, the connections. The kids your child is going to meet, the ones who will become lifetime friends, are the ones who are going to be running this country 20 years from now. If you believe it’s as much who you know as what you know, it’s hard to overvalue this benefit.

 

2)  College is taking more than four years

Many families aren’t sure they want to invest money in prep school, especially since they know they are likely to be spending money on college, money they may not have. Here’s what they fail to account for: college students aren’t finishing college in four years like their parents’ generation did. A remarkably high percentage (approximately 44% overall, and a startling 64% at public institutions) of students are not finishing college in what used to be considered the “normal” time frame.

Closely tied to those statistics is another, even bigger, one: college debt has become arguably the most important financial problem in the US today. A good chunk of that is a result of students taking more than four years to finish, or worse, not finishing at all.

For many students the issue is going to college before they’re ready. Many students, even some with very good transcripts, are now taking a gap year before college for that reason.

Finding yourself in college is tricky. Once you get off track, it’s hard to get back on. Colleges aren’t set up for you to find yourself. They’re set up to weed you out and take your money. Switching majors gets expensive in a hurry.

A post-graduate year is just the opposite. It’s designed to help the student discover more of him or herself. Consequently, it is much more effective and efficient at doing so, leading to a much lower risk.

Once families come to grips with these facts, especially the realization that there’s a good chance they’re likely to spend the additional money anyway, it is much easier to see that money is often much better spent on a PG year than on additional years in college.

 

 

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Quote of the Day – Two Years for Less Than the Cost of One

 

We got two years of prep school for less than one PG year was going to cost.

 

This from parents whose child was planning on a post-graduate year, but immediately changed his mind after visiting his first prep school and decided to go for his junior year instead.

 

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PG Year – Wasted Time and Money?

Cameron had a good senior year playing for a low profile high school and received only D3 offers. She and her parents decided to invest their time and money in a post-graduate year, believing she had the potential to get scholarship offers.

By all accounts, Cameron played very well in her PG year. At the end of the season she took two official visits to NCAA D2 schools, but did not receive a scholarship offer from either. She was also offered a preferred walk-on spot at two mid-level D1 schools, one of which she accepted.

Many would look at this situation and say the decision to attend prep school was a bad one, a waste of time and money. While Cameron and her parents certainly had some disappointment, a closer look reveals a very good decision.

  • Cost: This is often a big part of a PG year decision, and understandably so. Cameron’s family invested about $15,000 and got no scholarship to show for it. What they did get is an extra $12,000 per year in college financial aid. That’s what the school they chose offered compared to offers from similar schools that did not recruit her for basketball. That’s a payback of three times what they invested. That alone makes the PG year an easy justification and a great choice.
  • Lower basketball risk: Cameron could have walked-on at a D1 school after HS, but the risks would have been much greater. She would not have been a preferred walk-on, so she might not have even made the team. She’d only have about a week to prove herself. As a preferred walk-on she is virtually assured a spot on the team. She’s also a better player than she was a year ago. The D2 offers are objective proof of that. Those offers prove it’s not unreasonable to think she can play at the D1 level, and possibly earn a scholarship. (It’s hard to overstate the value of that information in today’s sports world, where so many kids and parents struggle to accurately assess the athlete’s talent level). The PG year closed the talent gap, while reducing the risk once she gets there.
  • Lower academic risk: A below average student, by all accounts she needed an extra year to figure out how to get her inherent intelligence to show up in her school work. As it turned out, she did just that. A different learning environment, in addition to being away from home, allowed her to achieve better grades than she did in high school. She’s now better prepared to handle the tougher course work in college. It also boosted her confidence in the classroom, which will increase her chances of success in college.
  • Lower overall risk: Most families don’t understand the time and other demands of playing a sport at the D1 level. Combined with the more difficult classroom work, the athlete’s maturity is tested immediately and often. College has also changed since today’s parents attended. A much larger percentage of students are not graduating, or are taking more than four years to do it. Certainly the financial risks are greater. College debt is arguably the largest financial problem in the country today. Cameron’s transitional year of prep school did exactly what a PG year is supposed to do. It gave her the opportunity to mature as a person while reducing all of these risks.

No, Cameron didn’t get a scholarship – yet, but the PG year was subtly a very good intermediate step towards overall success. It allowed her to keep the dream alive and saved her family over $30,000, while getting all the other educational and maturity benefits and minimizing the risks. They would tell you it was still an excellent choice.

 

 

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Don’t Leave PG Year Early

Leaving a PG year before graduating is almost always a bad decision. Not only do student-athletes lose educational benefits, they also call into question personal characteristics like integrity and dedication when they fail to live up to their commitments. Ironically, those that leave early are usually the ones who need to stay the most.

Education is about life preparation. Prep school, especially a PG year, and even more than high school, is all about life preparation. It’s not just what is learned in the classroom, it’s about maturity, responsibility, decision making and character. It’s about teaching the student-athlete what to do in college when there are fewer rules and more choices. It’s about how the student will react in certain situations. What will he or she do when no one’s watching? Bad decisions such as leaving a PG year before graduating pave the way for bad decisions in college.

Here is just one glaring example of a poor choice by a student and family, both of whom should know better.

Derrick had no scholarship offers after his senior year of high school. An average student, his grades were not keeping him from receiving a scholarship, but he needed to learn what it takes to make his grades and test scores reflect his natural intelligence. He opted for a post-graduate year at a school with an excellent track-record in his sport and a level of education that matched it. Three weeks short of his prep school graduation, and just days after receiving a good, mid-level D1 offer, Derrick left his prep school and went home, claiming he wanted to spend more time with his family before starting college summer school the following month.

His prep school coach, a former D1 standout and excellent student at one of the academically top rated D1 schools in the country, talked to Derrick at length about the decision. He accurately pointed out the flaws in his decision making and urged him to reconsider. So did the Director at the school. What came out in the conversations was not an issue of time with family at all. As it turns out, a two week family trip to Europe was already planned for the day after graduation, so there would be plenty of time with family. What came out in the conversation, the real issue, was that Derrick had been slacking off in his classes and would have to work hard to catch up. In addition, he was going to have to take end of the year exams. Despite knowing this before he agreed to do a PG year, he now claimed that was going to be too much work, especially since he had already done it last year as a high school senior.

Teenagers make questionable decisions. Parents are supposed to know better. Any parent knows parenting isn’t easy, but it’s part of the job description. Derrick’s parents supported his decision. They invoked the all to common refrain “he’s 18, we can’t make him do it” and offered no resistance. His prep school coach explained to Derrick’s parents how much more difficult college will be given the increased demands of sport and classes, and how they were setting a bad precedent by supporting Derrick’s decision to not live up to his current responsibilities. Nothing changed. Parents and child missed a valuable opportunity to increase their chances of future success.

Another adult in the support system who failed Derrick was the post-graduate director at the prep school. Contrary to the coach and school Director, he offered virtually no resistance to the decision, begging the question of what exactly he is responsible for in his position.

Derrick’s future college coach, more than anyone, had the power to change the situation if he wanted to. One simple sentence telling Derrick to finish prep school and that would have been the end of it. A future college coach’s word is gospel to a brand new recruit, and Derrick would have done whatever his college coach told him to. Instead, the coach did what’s all too common. He took the path of least resistance by not challenging the family. Like many in today’s litigious society, he chose to avoid confrontation and the possibility of offending anyone. Ironically, he cost himself, his athletic program and the college in the process. Even though Derrick had accepted the scholarship offer, the university admissions department had yet do admit him. Leaving prep school early was not going to help that. In addition, Derrick’s degree from a prestigious prep school would have reflected very well on the college athletic program and the kind of kids the coach is recruiting. This college generally gets few, if any, students from schools of that caliber, the athletic program almost none. More importantly, Derrick likely might have received some college credits from his PG year. With the demands on time at the college level, along with the increased difficulty of the courses, many athletes drop courses during the season or take a lighter load and less challenging classes to begin with. Having credit for some courses before he arrived on campus would be a significant benefit. It also might have allowed him to take graduate courses as a senior, which would again reflect well on the sports program. Finally, college is an academic institution first. The idea of a college coach signing off on this type of decision is at best ironic, at worst unacceptable. Both the kid and college would have benefitted if he’d stayed just three more weeks at prep school.

Some would rationalize decisions like Derrick’s by saying the student will make the right decisions when it comes time in college. History shows that’s unlikely. As in sports, the sooner a child learns life’s fundamentals and forms good habits, the better the chances of future success.

Others would say the prep school coach and the school Director are biased, that their reasons for not wanting the student to leave school are motivated by self-interest. While there’s certainly some truth to that, it’s dwarfed by the objective facts as stated above. These are people in educational leadership positions whose job it is to provide the best guidance they can to teenagers and parents. They got it right.

Not only do athletes cheat themselves emotionally and educationally when they fail to finish a PG year, they exhibit a lack of work ethic, commitment and perseverance that should be concerning to college coaches. They’re going to get the sport benefit either way. They might as well get the non-athletic benefits while they’re there. By leaving school early, not only did Derrick forfeit a degree from a prestigious prep school that would have followed him for life, he and his parents missed a great chance to improve his chances of success in college and in life.

 

 

 

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D3 vs PG?

Many parents and coaches, especially those at the D3 level, think a post-graduate year is a waste of time and money if the athlete still ends up at the D3 level after the PG year. On the surface, it can look that way, but only if one mistakenly uses a D1 scholarship as the only measure of success. There’s a value opportunity most parents and coaches miss. A PG year is really an investment with minimal risk. At the right price, it’s a very good risk. Here are the benefits achieved, even if a D1 scholarship is not.

 

Return On Investment

  1. Better education
    1. The student is likely to be accepted at D3 schools with higher academic ranking
  2. Lower college cost
    1. The family is likely to get a better financial aid package at D3 schools
      1. $8,000 per year in savings results in an average net prep school cost of $0, while getting all the other PG year benefits, including college credits
  3. Better preparation for college
    1. The child will be academically more prepared
    2. The child will be athletically more prepared
    3. The child will be emotionally more prepared and more mature
    4. A PG year gives a student a much better chance to thrive in college, not just survive
  4. A years worth of college credits?
    1. College level courses taken as a PG can translate into college credits
      1. Students can graduate sooner from college thereby saving cost
        1. The cost of prep school courses can be less than college
      2. Students can take graduate level courses in their fourth year of college
      3. More and more students are taking more than 4 years to graduate from college anyway

Investment Amount

The value is clearly there for a PG year at the right price. So, what is the right price? The rule of thumb is to spend what one year of college would cost. Spending less than that should be a no-brainer. Spending more makes it a much tougher/poorer decision.

 

The PG year provides all the benefits above, while keeping alive the chance for a D1 or D2 scholarship, and the four free years of education that go with it. Under the proper circumstances, this is an excellent decision.

 

 

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Why Do a PG Year When I Already Have Offers?

People regularly ask, often incredulously, why anyone who already has offers would do a post-graduate (PG) year. The better question is, why wouldn’t you?

Asking why is a pretty clear indicator of goals and perspective. All most families can think of is getting a D1 offer. They’ve hardly considered, and have little understanding of, what happens and what it takes to be successful once you’re actually in college and playing a D1 sport.

Survival is a big part of sports at the D1 level. Everyone at that level has talent. Everyone is on a scholarship. Everyone thinks they will play. Not everyone will. Nobody thinks that will be them.

If your goal is just to get the offer, there’s no reason to do a PG year. If you want to maximize your success and get the most out of your college experience, there’s every reason. Here are the main ones:

  • There is virtually no downside to a PG year
  • You will still have all the offers and options you have now, plus five times more
  • You will get higher level offers
    • The additional year makes you a better athlete and gets you better exposure
  • You will have more choices and options, which leads to a better decision
  • You will have a better idea of who you are as a person and an athlete
  • You will be better prepared to live away from home
    • Better handle the reduced supervision and increased freedom
  • You will become a better student
    • This is true for all levels of students, even the best ones
  • You will have an additional year of education and credits
  • You will be much better at recruiting process the second time around.
    • This is one of the most overlooked reasons to PG
      • Most families are fairly clueless the first time they go through the process
      • It’s not a fair fight.
        • Coaches are professionals. If they don’t recruit successfully, they don’t have a job.
  • You will get more out of college and increase chances of success
    • Remember, you only get four years
      • Achieve higher grades in college
      • Achieve more success in your sport
  • You will minimize the risks
    • Lower risk of transfer or bad experience
    • Lower risk of failing out
    • Lower risk of sitting on the bench the first year or two, or never cracking the lineup
  • You will have a much better chance of thriving in college, instead of just surviving

These reasons all pertain to students in general. If you’re young for your grade or a student at risk (ie: a weak student, marginal recruit or received offers based more on potential than current ability), that’s all the more reason.

Why don’t more families take advantage of this opportunity? Lack of awareness, lack of patience, lack of perspective. Some don’t know the opportunity exists. Some are too impatient to get to college. Some don’t see the big picture. Ask yourself this: what is your decision going to look like when you look back a year from now?

If school and sports are really about life preparation, then this truly is an easy decision. A PG year better prepares the student for college and life after college. There’s no question about it.

If you think this is all hypothetical, consider one example. I worked this past year with a young man who said no in the summer before his senior year to the first D1 offer he received. During his senior season many schools came to look at him, some as many as a five times, but no one offered. Finally, late in the season, he received one very low level offer.

When they asked to speak with me about their prep school options, this family of very little means was worried about passing up the one offer they had.  We sat in their living room when they nervously asked me if it was reasonable to think that they might get more offers. They decided they believed in themselves and opted for prep school. Five months later they had over 20 offers. The schools that had watched him five times, and to whom he would have quickly said yes any and every day during the season, now could barely get the family’s attention with their offer. In the end, this athlete ended up jumping all the way to high level D1 and a top 25 program.

Having offers gives you leverage. Use it. A PG year reduces variables and risks. You only get four years of college. A PG year is the best way to maximize those years.

 

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Should I Walk-On or Do a Post-Graduate Year?

In some way, walking-on inspires a sense of security. It allows athletes put their belief in the connection they have with a particular school, even in the absence of a scholarship. I spoke on the phone with a father not long ago about the possibility of his child doing a post-graduate (PG) year instead of walking-on. The father had no awareness or understanding of prep schools and the child had all the earmarks of an excellent PG candidate. The child’s senior season was over and so was the majority of the recruiting for the sport. They had not received any scholarship offers and were planning on walking-on at a local D1 school.

Confidence is a huge part of walking-on. The athlete has to believe in himself/herself even though no scholarship schools believed in the athlete’s talent enough to offer a scholarship. Confidence and optimism are essential, but there’s no need to substitute them for a lack of logic. Many athletes make the confident statement that they’re sure they’ll earn a scholarship as walk-ons. All they need, they insist, is the chance to prove themselves. In fact, those who make that statement aren’t as confident as they think. They are putting too much value in that sense of security inspired by the walk-on situation. Athletes who truly believe in themselves and their talent don’t settle for walking-on. They believe that given the chance at prep school they will earn more and better offers and aren’t willing to restrict themselves to one scholarship chance. Furthermore, if you assume the statement of confidence is true, that the athlete will earn a scholarship after walking-on, it’s all the more reason to go to prep school and not walk-on. Think about it. If the player really is a scholarship level talent, a PG year would have been virtually risk-free and would have yielded many and better options.

Here’s a comparison of the two options.

 

Walking-On = One Chance

  • Only one chance at a scholarship. If you choose to walk-on, all your eggs are in one basket. There’s only one school looking at you, so you have only one chance at a scholarship. Some say “There’s no risk. I’m sure I’ll earn a scholarship”. The statistics say otherwise.
  • You may not get a scholarship. Then there are three options and none is particularly good. One, keep playing, but pay for all four years. Two, transfer. Three, stop playing the sport you love.
  • May use up a year of eligibility. You only get four. When was the last time you heard an athlete say I wish my career hadn’t been so long or so successful.
  • Cost. Usually about the same as a PG year at prep school

 

PG Year = Multiple Options

  • Chance at multiple scholarship offers. You will have many schools looking at you. Your odds increase dramatically, so does the chance of finding the right fit. The more choices, the better fit and chance of success.
  • No loss of eligibility. You still have four years of college eligibility after a PG year.
  • An extra year of education. In today’s world, you can’t have too much education. By doing a PG year you get another year in addition to the four college years. That means improved learning skills and probable college level credits. If you do earn a scholarship, the fourth year of it will likely pay for the first year of graduate school.
  • Greater chance of earning playing time early and throughout college career. This is true for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that the average age of college freshman is a lot higher than most people realize.
  • Get to a higher level of play. PGs get recruited at a higher level than high school seniors. If, in fact, you were capable of earning a scholarship as a walk-on that same level of talent would earn you a scholarship at a higher level school after a PG year.
  • No need to transfer. It’s one thing to move on after a PG year. It’s entirely different to transfer after your freshman year of college if you don’t get a scholarship. Yes, a PG year is still a change, but you knew it was going to happen and it’s much less traumatic than transferring from a four year college.
  • Better chance of finding a school that’s the right fit. The more developed you are as a player and person, the better the chances of finding the right fit. In addition, the more school choices you have the better the chance of finding the right fit.
  • Cost. Roughly the same as what a walk-on year of college would cost. Some people will say that if you don’t get a scholarship you’ve added the cost of an extra year to your overall college cost. Not necessarily. First, non-scholarship athletes often end up getting a better financial aid package than they would have before the PG year. That increased financial aid can offset the cost of the PG year. Second, you can take college level courses as a PG, making it effectively the same thing as being a college freshman.

 

There’s simply no question that a PG year makes more sense than walking-on. In the example above, part of the problem was the family refused to even listen to what prep school has to offer. Be willing to listen before making a decision. You can always say no. Smart people get the facts first.

 

 

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