Matt Conners spent a post-graduate gap year at The Academy at Watkinson School in Hartford, Ct.
Why did you decide to participate in a post-graduate (PG) year program?
I felt lost throughout my high school academic experience. Procrastination was a daily issue that led to late or missing work. I needed to learn how to manage my assignments and become a self-advocate. I had to learn how to organize myself in and out of school so I always know where everything is and when it needs to be done. Not only did I need tips and guidance for academic success, but I needed confidence. I plan to transition to a college next year and self-advocacy and confidence are required characteristics. Going into the PG year program at The Academy at Watkinson School, I was focused on building a solid work ethic so I can reach my academic potential.
How did you research PG programs and decide which program was right for you?
My guidance counselor gave me recommendations and I visited a few schools but didn’t really know how I felt about them. When my parents informed me about Watkinson School’s program, I was interested. I felt Watkinson would really put me to the test and allow me to reach my academic goals. My main goal is to go to college after the program and my PG year will facilitate that, as I am able to take a few high school and a few college classes at the university next door. Not only am I gaining important academic attributes at Watkinson, but I am gaining experience by taking college classes at University of Hartford. There is truly a plethora of opportunities offered at Watkinson waiting to be taken advantage of.
What did you do on your PG experience?
I started off taking four classes at Watkinson and two at the University of Hartford. At first, I was introduced to a tour at Northeastern to get a feel for a city school and what’s offered at big schools like that. During the first trimester, I began an internship for the athletic department, which required me to attend all of the home sporting events. I set up the field before the games and managed the score clock. At the end of each week, I would prepare a summary of the teams who played during the week that would be submitted to the Watkinson Newsletter.
For six Sundays in the fall, I attended a mandatory SAT preparation class that I found very beneficial to improving my score. I am currently working on the Academy project, where I conduct water clean ups with volunteers from my school and spread awareness regarding the dangers of pollution and the importance of recycling. The Academy students are required to take a unique class called Academy Seminar. This class teaches important life lessons like how to succeed in an interview, how to write resumes, good study and organizational habits, etc.
Would you encourage other students to take part in a PG program?
I would encourage other students to take part in a PG program because of how much it helps you develop as a person and a student. After spending my whole academic career in a public school setting, it was definitely a major change for me. The community aspect of Watkinson has made it easy to make new friends and perform to my fullest potential.
How will your PG year affect the rest of your life in college and after college?
I have picked up many new skills and learning tips that will help me with further education and occupations. Not only did my academic skills improve, but my communication and self-advocacy skills have made me a more productive student and person. I’ve been taught to manage my future bills, taxes and many other life necessities. I feel more like an individual and I know that will help me succeed in the future.