Why a Semester School?

First and foremost, semester schools act as a supplement to, not a replacement for, our students’ sending schools. A semester away provides a unique opportunity to reflect on oneself as a learner and as a community member, but it is not an experience that exists in isolation. Semester schools teach transferable skills that allow our alumni to return to their high schools with a renewed sense of self and an ability to both contribute to and benefit from their school community.

Academics

Students who attend our schools report advantages that go beyond their transcripts and college admissions results. Many of them report significant growth in less tangible areas, such as self-confidence, willingness to be a leader and ability to work well on a team. All of our schools are small communities, with no more than 35-60 students in each semester group. In addition, semester schools teach self-reliance through significant participation in making the community function. Whether by doing dishes, helping to clean a classroom, feeding farm animals or making dinner for fellow students and faculty, semester schools provide a chance for high school students to contribute to community life in tangible ways they may not experience at home.

Opting to leave your school for a semester is a big decision for any student, and leaving the known for the unknown rarely comes without risk. Going to a semester school means leaving familiar friends, sports teams, families, clubs and teachers behind. However, our alumni tell us that the rewards that come from the experience far outweigh the risks and sacrifices. Many of them find that they realize who they are—as learners, as friends, and as community members—on a deeper level by leaving the familiar and embarking on the adventure of a semester away. In this way, the personal growth they experience is often the most lasting and transferable outcome our schools provide.

College Admissions

Many college counselors, parents and students ask early in the process of exploring a semester school, “What about college?” We understand the importance of the college admissions process, and have therefore designed our programs to enhance students’ ability to navigate it.

The first way that we support students in the college application process is by providing a challenging academic program that is grade level-appropriate. Sending schools accept semester school credit, allowing students to stay on track with regard to graduation and college admissions requirements. All of our schools also provide the ability for students to take standardized and AP tests on schedule if they occur during the semester away. In the spring, many semester schools also provide individual college counseling (using college counselors from independent schools) and/or work closely with college counselors at sending schools to make sure that each individual student is progressing as needed.

The second way in which semester schools empower students in the college process is by providing an intense academic and community experience that enables them to better know the type of college they might like to pursue. The increased self-knowledge and self-confidence that are often outcomes of a semester away are highly beneficial as students enter the important process of finding the college that will best suit their needs. Likewise, many colleges recognize semester school graduates as risk takers in the best sense, and as independent thinkers who are well-prepared for the college experience.

Personal Growth

Students who attend our schools report advantages that go beyond their transcripts and college admissions results. Many of them report significant growth in less tangible areas, such as self-confidence, willingness to be a leader and ability to work well on a team. All of our schools are small communities, with no more than 35-60 students in each semester group. In addition, semester schools teach self-reliance through significant participation in making the community function. Whether by doing dishes, helping to clean a classroom, feeding farm animals or making dinner for fellow students and faculty, semester schools provide a chance for high school students to contribute to community life in tangible ways they may not experience at home.

Opting to leave your school for a semester is a big decision for any student, and leaving the known for the unknown rarely comes without risk. Going to a semester school means leaving familiar friends, sports teams, families, clubs and teachers behind. However, our alumni tell us that the rewards that come from the experience far outweigh the risks and sacrifices. Many of them find that they realize who they are—as learners, as friends, and as community members—on a deeper level by leaving the familiar and embarking on the adventure of a semester away. In this way, the personal growth they experience is often the most lasting and transferable outcome our schools provide.