PG Class of ’07 Came to PA for College Prep; Will Leave With More Experience as Scholars, Athletes and People

Every year, Phillips Academy admits about 30 postgraduates from all over the world. While many Andover students think of PG’s as athletes, this year’s 25 PG’s came to Andover for reasons reaching beyond athletic development. Though a number of PG’s were recruited for athletic teams and came to PA to develop their sports skills, others came for the academic experience or to learn English. Phillips Academy’s Kemper and Thai Scholar programs provide the chance for students from European countries and Thailand, respectively, to experience a year at Andover to improve their English, experience U.S. education and add to the diversity at PA with their unique interests and qualities. Though this year’s PG’s were attracted to Phillips for various reasons, most came for college preparation. A fifth year of high school at a challenging prep school like Andover is a chance for college-bound PG’s to adjust to being away from home and to rigorous academics. In the case of PG’s with an athletic focus, Andover’s competitive sports teams allow an additional season of development. Jelani Floyd ’07, who was recruited to play basketball for Brown University next year, said, “I came here to develop a better academic background, coming from a Chicago public high school, and to get another gap year between high school and college. It was like a trial run of being away from home.” Luke Deluca ’07, who has been accepted to the University of Pennsylvania, said, “The postgraduate year was very beneficial to helping me find the right college.” For international PG’s, Andover has been a place to adjust to the American system of education while receiving more individual attention than they would at most colleges. Having come to PA from Mexico, Barbara Raynal ’07 commented, “I had never been to school in the U.S. before. I was worried about coming to college in the U.S….it was a transition year for me.” For the athletically focused PG’s, an extra season to improve their skills and attract college coaches has been crucial. Tyler Palin ’07 said, “I wanted to better prepare myself for the college level both on and off the football field. The PG’s year also allows another year of recruiting, which is essential.” Palin will attend Carleton University. Hartnett, who will play soccer and softball for Union next year, said, “[Being a PG’s] gave me a chance to make more contact with Division III coaches. Division I is just too much of a time commitment.” Beyond athletics and academics, the PG’s have matured and prepared themselves for the real world. Floyd said, “At my school being black was the majority…the real world isn’t like that. It’s a positive difference to have so many different races and cultures here. When I first got here I was amazed that I was involved with all different types of people.” Aline Dubois ’07, a Kemper Scholar, said, “A lot of people said that they have seen me blossom at PA. I have more self-confidence, and I met people that I will always remember as models to follow in life: teachers, house-counselors, but also, mainly the students!” The Thai government awards a Royal Thai Scholarship to highly talented Thai high school seniors to attend prestigious American prep schools for a postgraduate year. This year’s Thai Scholars, Nui Waritta Suebphanwong ’07 and Petch Jirapinyo ’07, will attend Stanford and Harvard, respectively, on full King Scholarships from the Thai Government. Jirapinyo, who came to take advantage of his scholarship and improve his English speaking, said, “I’m very glad I came here…It’s very diverse compared to my old school. There are so many interesting people and things to do.” Even what seems like a dream has had its challenges. Most PG’s agreed that the workload at Andover has been greater than that at their previous schools. Dubois said, “The biggest change? Homework! There is so much of it this year; I wish I had more time to get involved in many of the clubs and organizations.” Hartnett agreed, “I’m happy I came here…but some days the homework is tough!” Another difficulty for the PG’s has been remaining in high school while their friends go off to the freedom of college. Deluca said, “It is very new to me to have to stay in a dorm after a certain time. It is understandable, but hard, especially when you get calls from your friends in college.” Javier Perez ’07, a Spanish Kemper Scholar, said, “A lot of the differences, I feel, have to do with the different traditions of my country.” He also cited speaking English as one major difference. While most international PG’s studied English at their previous schools, they weren’t used to speaking it every day. Raynal commented, “It wasn’t hard to speak English….It was just completely different. Everything here is so fast-paced compared to my old school, and on top of that there was the language [difference]. It’s going well now.” Despite the challenges, most PG’s have enjoyed Andover. Dawson Joyce-Mendive ’07 said, “[Coming to PA] has been the best experience so far…[and it] gave me the chance to show I was still improving!”