Going to College Archive

Repeating a Grade in High School or Pursuing a Post-Grad Year – Part One

What you need to know.

During high school, some junior golfers may consider repeating a grade or pursuing a “post-grad” (or gap) year. Why would these options make sense? The desire to become more competitive as a recruit by extending the timeline before starting college is usually the primary motive. Extra time allows a junior player to mature, improve academic credentials, develop golf skills, and strengthen tournament results. Ultimately, the potential exists for both strategies to enhance performance and open up more college golf opportunities.

In this article, the idea of repeating a grade, as well as the pros and cons associated with this choice, will be explored. A follow-up article (Repeating a Grade in High School or Pursuing a Post-Grad Year – Part Two) will address the post-grad approach and why this might be a better alternative. For now, let’s assess the “repeat a grade” scenario.

As previously mentioned, hitting the reset button and repeating a grade in high school can help junior golfers gain an edge in the recruiting process. It positions them to be more physically, mentally, and emotionally mature than the competing players in their graduating class. Increased physical strength and the potential to hit the ball farther are likely benefits. Mental and emotional maturity, and a clearer sense of long-term goals, often comes along with extra time. And, of course, golf and academic performance have the potential to be improved.

These positives all sound good, right? But when considering the possibility of repeating a grade, it’s important to be aware of NCAA Initial-Eligibility Requirements for Division I (assuming Division I golf is of interest). Plus, a couple of recruiting issues should be kept in mind.

With respect to the NCAA rules, a prospective student-athlete interested in becoming a qualifier for Division I golf must successfully complete 16 core courses no later than the high school graduation date of his/her class as determined by the first year of enrollment in ninth grade (NCAA Division I – Bylaw 14.3.1.2.1, Core-Curriculum Time Limitation). In simple terms, once a high school golfer starts ninth grade, he/she has eight consecutive semesters to successfully complete the required 16 core courses. (Check your high school’s list of NCAA courses on the Resources page of the NCAA Eligibility Center website.) This requirement must be met by all prospects, including those who repeat a grade.

Also, for prospective student-athletes first entering a Division I college or university on or after August 1, 2016, the NCAA will add new requirements to become a Division I qualifier. One particular rule will specify that 10 of the 16 core courses must be completed before the start of the seventh semester of high school.

The main keys to satisfying these NCAA Initial-Eligibility Requirements are:

    1. Ensure that none of the 16 core courses are duplicated.

    2. Meet the required time frame to complete 16 core courses (eight consecutive semesters from the start of ninth grade).

    3. Complete 10 of the required 16 core courses before the start of the seventh semester (applies to prospects entering a Division I college on or after August 1, 2016).

Because each junior golfer may be facing a different situation as the option of repeating a grade is considered, it is recommended that a student’s parents consult with the NCAA and his/her high school guidance staff to design a compliant academic plan. Satisfying the NCAA Initial-Eligibility Requirements, as well as “amateurism” legislation (i.e., requirements related to preserving all four seasons of college competition), should be primary objectives.

Given the potential complexities of repeating a grade in high school, it’s important to recognize that this approach can raise red flags or concerns for coaches. The coaching audience knows that repeating a grade could result in compliance issues with the NCAA rules. Consequently, coaches might be less interested in recruiting a junior golfer if they feel eligibility complications may exist.

In the final analysis, the underlying motives for repeating a grade are well founded. The sport of golf is all about the long race, and more time to develop skills and maturity can create advantages in the recruiting process. However, maintaining compliance with the NCAA Initial-Eligibility Requirements and avoiding eligibility concerns from coaches are the primary challenges that junior golfers need to manage.

As you will see in Part Two of this article, using a post-grad year might be a worthy alternative. This strategy is allowed within the NCAA rules for all divisions of college golf. Plus, it affords a junior golfer more time in the recruiting process with far fewer issues to navigate.

nicky goetze


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