American College Prep Schools
In the US, college prep schools are usually private secondary schools that focus on providing a rigorous academic program, continuing athletic involvement, and varied extracurricular activities with leadership opportunities.
Characteristics of this type of secondary school include:
- a high level of quality, with small classes (an average of 3 to 10 students per course)
- a wide range of subjects: not only ‘regular’ school subjects, but creative and art subjects are also offered
- a wide choice of courses at college level, such as Advanced Placement courses or courses within an International Baccalaureate program
- suitable for students of all levels or with specific learning needs
- a relatively large number of foreign students and students from all US states
- extensive sports facilities on and near the campus
- organized social activities and trips within the US as well as abroad
- personal attention and guidance, including orientation and guidance for further education at a college or university
- SAT/ACT preparation and assistance with the selection and application process to top colleges and universities in the US
- possibility of shared student accommodation on campus, under professional supervision
Sports after school is compulsory. Many social, cultural and education activities are also organized outside school time, including trips for students within the US and abroad. These college prep schools are called ‘day’ and ‘boarding’ schools which means that some of the students live in the immediate vicinity of the school and some of them (both American and international students) live in supervised student accommodation on school campus. Sometimes it is possible to arrange a placement in a host family, which is managed by the school itself. However, in most cases, the student usually lives in a shared student accommodation building (amongst their own gender) under professional supervision. Meals are eaten together in the cafeteria.
A lot of attention is given to ‘character building’, intellectual and artistic development and working and playing sports together. In the upper classes, there is more focus on the educational and career aspects for the student. In short, a college prep school prepares their students for a successful adult life, and achieving entry into a top college or university anywhere in the world.
Some schools have a special character, for example a strong focus on the arts (these are the so-called pre-professional art schools), in certain sports (such as football, horse riding, golf and winter sports), whilst others have a military character or are for girls only or boys only. In addition, many schools allocate resources to providing individual attention to students who need additional learning support, for example students with ADD, ADHD, dyslexia, anxiety or giftedness .
Of course, it is also possible to achieve an American high school International Baccalaureate diploma. An IB diploma, in principle, gives the student access to applying to all universities in the world. The level of a US high school diploma in Dutch terms usually comparable to a HAVO diploma. Training with a combination of high level, extensive content and good performance can achieve the equivalent of a VWO level in 5 to 6 years. In the latter case, a Dutch student who also holds an American high school diploma can not only access the realm of US higher education but also access all Dutch HBO institutions and universities.
Students who are attending high school in their own country also have the option of spending a semester or a year at a US college prep school. They will participate with final year students (known as seniors) but are free to choose from all of the available subjects that match their own academic level.
In short, there are many reasons to study at a US college prep school:
- it provides thorough and unique preparation for further study at top universities or conservatories/academies
- it offers high level sports, artistic development and encourages students to develop themselves further
- personal guidance whilst learning
- those who already have a secondary school diploma may extend their education for one year at a US college prep school and get a unique orientation toward their future
- the opportunity to live with students from around the world and within the US on campus, with professional supervision
Some examples of US college prep schools where UStudy has placed clients include:
Darlington School, Georgia – offers participation in a football academy alongside the regular school program.
George School, Pennsylvania – is an International Baccalaureate World school.
Idyllwild Arts School, California – is a pre-professional art school that offers a summer program of music, dance, film, theatre (production), photography, drawing and painting, ceramics, computer animation. For both young students and adults.
Montverde Academy, Florida – offers the opportunity to combine studies with a golf or tennis academy.
St. Johnsbury Academy, Vermont – is a pre-professional arts school. A summer program is offered for hockey and English as a Second Language.
St. Timothy’s School, Maryland – is an International Baccalaureate World school.
Stoneleigh-Burnham School, Massachusetts – offers an advanced horseriding program. It is also a pre-professional arts school and an International Baccalaureate World school.
The Winchendon School, Massachusetts – great attention is paid to supporting students with learning disabilities, and encouraging the highest potential from their students.
The Winter Sports School, Utah – winter sports training is available via the National Sports Foundation, within the former Olympics Complex in Park City. They provide a unique school schedule that takes into account winter training. They also offer study and summer sports with accommodation in a host family (for students aged 16-19 years).
Walnut Hill School, Massachusetts – is a pre-professional arts school.
Wilbraham & Monson Academy, Massachusetts – has a Centre for Entrepreneurship and International Relations and Economics.