Post-Graduate Year (Foundation Year)
Thirteenth Year Prep Schools (Post-Graduate):
There are several gap year programs in Saudi Arabia that have been designed to help students apply to top colleges in the United States. However, those programs can only accommodate a limited number of students. Enrolling in a Post Graduate (PG) program, also known as thirteenth year, can give Arab students a strong academic base and a significantly higher chance of acceptance into competitive undergraduate programs.
PG is a year-long program between high school and college spent at one of the top Preparatory (Secondary) schools in the United States. Taking a gap year after high school to enroll in a post graduate program will prepare students academically for college and strongly enrich their academic record. Top universities have been known to take a high percentage of students from highly ranked Prep schools every year. For instance, about 20 percent of Phillips Exeter Academy’s class gets admitted into Ivy League institutions every year.
As a Post Graduate student, you will be treated like a high school senior. Some people consider it an additional year of high school (which is true technically). By the end of the year, you will graduate with an American high school diploma. There will be around 10 to 15 other Post Graduate students in your graduating class. Please note, these programs are competitive and academically rigorous. Your performance at the prep school is a strong indicator of your ability to do well in college. Please apply only if you are aiming for one of the top 20-30 colleges in the US. I highly recommend these programs for students who fall under one or more of the following categories below:
If a student needs more time to study and retake standardized tests (SAT, SAT II...)
If a student applied to colleges but did not get admitted into any of the colleges that were in the range that he/she was targeting.
For students who enrolled in a local school (not international school) during their high school years and had Arabic as their primary language of instruction. Although a Post Graduate program isn’t a language program, it will improve your language and give you sufficient exposure to the American educational system prior to your enrollment in college.
Most importantly, a PG year will come a long way in bridging the educational gap between both systems. If you are uncertain, it is best that you submit your college applications and PG applications simultaneously and make a decision after you hear back from them.
Examples of top Prep schools:
Phillips Exeter Academy
Choate Rosemary hall
Lawrenceville high school
Application process/ how to apply:
Each school has its own application. They have similar requirements to college applications: (school reports, recommendation letters, essays...). Once admitted, you can view the scholarship opportunities available in your country that may be able to pay for your studies at these institutions.
Foundation Year Programs (Post Graduate):
After graduating, certain students may have the chance to take what is known as a Foundation Year as part of a scholarship program. These Foundation Year programs tend to help students in applying to US universities (since the majority of Saudi students don’t apply during senior year) and preparing them for college with specialized courses. The following is an overview of some gap year programs offered at specific scholarships:
KAUST Gifted Student Program Foundation
After being accepted in the program, KGSP sends its students who do not yet have admission at a top tier university to the US to take what is known as a Foundation Year (FY) . These programs are all held in top American universities, such as UPenn, UT Austin and UC Berkeley. During the first half of the FY, students are given a plethora of resources to assist them in applying to colleges. After applying, the students are then given college level courses in a number of subjects, such as calculus and C++. Out of all post-graduation program, KGSP’s Foundation Year programs have had the best results by far. KGSP FY students have been accepted into 6 of the 8 Ivy league schools, as well as schools such as Stanford, MIT, UC Berkeley, Carnegie Mellon, University of Michigan, UCLA, Rice University, Duke,and Johns Hopkins. It should be noted that accepted students who lack English proficiency are given a year before the FY to enroll in an intense English Learning Program to enhance their English proficiency.
Aramco’s College Preparatory
Once accepted into the program, Aramco sends all its CDNPE students to its Dahran headquarters to enroll in the year-long CPC program. During this year, students are put in a very professional enjoinment with long work hours and work requirements. Students are given AP courses during the program, as well as any other courses they may need (such as English Language courses). Aramco’s CPC program has a strong reputation of preparing students for a tough college education.
After enrolling as a Sabic Scholar, students are first sent to Prince Mohammad University in the eastern region of Saudi Arabia to study English for three months. After completing this program, students are then sent to an American university to take their Foundation Year, which lasts approximately 18 months. There they take relevant courses to their major and apply to universities. SABIC Foundation Year program take place at top American universities such as UPenn, BU, and UT Austin.
See Qimmah's Saudi Scholarship Page for more information about these scholarships.