Coed, independent, PK3-12th grade school in St. Petersburg, Florida.

A St. Pete private school is offering a one year program for gap year students

by Lauren Coffey, Tampa Bay Business Journal
St. Petersburg-based private school Shorecrest Preparatory School has launched a program intended to bring non-enrolled students to its school for a year.

The "Post-Graduate Certificate Gap Year program" will allow students not currently attending Shorecrest to come to the school for a year and earn a certificate. Nancy Spencer, Head of School at Shorecrest, first saw the program during her 15 years working at a boarding school. 

"To my knowledge, there are no day schools that do this," she said. "And I've just seen the benefits of students who have come and experienced this. It can make you a more attractive applicant for college, or if you know what college you will be attending, it can allow you to take more interest in your passion (before going to college)."

The program became even more timely, according to Spencer, due to many students feeling as if they had missed out on a year of their high school experience due to the novel coronavirus pandemic largely forcing public schools to turn to remote learning.

"This is an opportunity to give them a high school experience with rigorous academics before they head out to college," she said.

Private, independent schools have been much more agile than their public school counterparts — they have been able to return to in-person much earlier and expand programs such as these to accommodate the growing interest that has peaked over the last year.
The students would pay a year of tuition and could come from out-of-state, although Spencer specified the school would not provide housing for any incoming students. According to Spencer, the school will not offer financial aid to these gap year students this year, but that could change that in the future.

Students [who already hold a high school diploma] can take courses they're particularly passionate about, including robotics, AP courses, or a pre-med track. They will be allowed to participate in any school offerings except for competing on sports teams.

Spencer said she and the school's academic advisors would help the student and their family choose which college would be the best fit for them regardless of location. However, an infusion of out-of-state students experiencing the Tampa Bay region could lead to more applicants to local universities.

There's also the benefit of the current student population experiencing a new infusion of students in their later high school years.

"It's a minor influx and won’t change the culture of the overall school, but our kids would benefit," Spencer said. "And we have had interest from older high school kids —traditionally, we don't bring in a ton of juniors and seniors, but this could help."

The St. Petersburg PG program is currently open to applicants, and Spencer expects to admit three to five students in this first round of the program. They will begin the fall semester in August.

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Shorecrest Preparatory School

5101 First Street Northeast
St Petersburg, FL 33703
Phone: (727) 522-2111  |  Fax: (727) 527-4191

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Shorecrest Preparatory School is a private, non-sectarian, coeducational, college preparatory day school for students preschool through high school, located in St. Petersburg, Florida.