High School Freshmen, Sophomores, and Juniors looking for a very different educational experience and challenge may want to attend one of 10 U.S. based Semester School Programs.
Students who take part in this opportunity, leave their regular high school for one semester, take their standard high school curriculum, live within a small, diverse community with students from all over the world, work side by side with their teachers, and finally take part in environmental, outdoor, art, and service-related activities.
Because semester schools are small and range in numbers between 20 and 40 students, the academic classes are limited (usually no more than 10) allowing for concentrated teacher/student interaction. Most schools also teach toward an honors or advanced placement curriculum so students return to their regular high school fully on track or often ahead.
College Admissions Advantages
Because semester schools are different and only 600 students attend these programs each year, the experience in itself sets students apart on their college applications. Many students choose to write about their semester experience for the required admissions personal statement. Semester schools give students a “home away from home” opportunity that helps with the transition to college living and independence.
Growth Advantages/Day in the life of a semester school student
Everyday is packed solid for semester school students. From chores to meal preparation, academic classes to study hall, service projects to environmental lab experiments, and finally, team building exercises to hiking. It is no wonder students learn and improve upon time management skills and self-discipline during their semester away. In addition, everyday is shaped to give the entire community the chance to teach, lead, and learn from each other.
Each school has their own program “emphasis”. The Outdoor Academy in Pisgah Forest, NC specializes in outdoor experiences, environmental issues, and community building; Oxbow in California focuses on studio artmaking and interdisciplinary humanities; SEGL in Washington DC, focuses on ethical thinking skills, leadership development, and international studies.
It is not too late to apply for fall 2011 and spring 2012. Most applications are due between February 1 and February 15. Some schools also offer rolling admissions.
Chewonki (Wiscasset, ME) www.chewonki.org
City Term (Dobbs Ferry, NY) www.cityterm.org
Conserve (Land O’ Lakes, WI) www.conserveschool.org
High Mountain (Leadville, CO) www.hminet.org
Island School (Eleuthera island, Bahamas) www.islandschool.org
Mountain School (Vershire, VT) www.mountainschool.org
Outdoor Academy (Pisgah Forest, NC) www.enf.org
Oxbow (Napa, CA) www.oxbowschool.org
SEGL (Washington, DC) www.schoolforethics.org
Woolman (Nevada City, CA) semester.woolman.org