Semester schools are a wonderful way for private school students to broaden their education and spend a semester earning academic credit in a very different setting. Schools such as the Mountain School, Chewonki, and the Island School have been around for a while, and new semester schools have proliferated in recent years. Here are some of the newer options. For a complete list, visit the Semester Schools Network.
City Term at the Masters School
City Term at the Masters School,
based in Dobbs Ferry, near New York City, uses New York City as its classroom. In the program, 30 juniors and seniors explore New York City and take an “Urban Core” of three rigorous humanities classes based on New York life, along with classes in math, science, and language that mesh with students’ classes at their regular schools. Many classes are interdisciplinary in nature. For example, according to the school, a class on the Brooklyn Bridge could involve reading Walt Whitman’s poetry, studying the arc of the cables, and learning the politics of how and why the bridge was built. The school’s mission reads as follows, “CITYterm challenges its students to think, question, speak up and grow. Together in a closely knit community of students and teachers CITYterm explores, wonders, watches, and learns on the streets of New York City. Students spend every other day linking their classroom work to the endless array of opportunities available in the greatest city in the world.” The tuition for 2012-2013 is $25,565 which includes the local transportation fee of $600; financial aid is available.
based in Land O’Lakes, Wisconsin, is a semester school about environmental stewardship for juniors and some advanced sophomores. The school’s college-prep curriculum includes classes on environmental history and literature about nature. Much of the students’ learning takes place outdoors on the 1,200-acre campus. The school’s mission reads as follows, “Conserve School inspires young people to environmental stewardship through academics and engagement with the forests, lakes, and wildlife of Lowenwood.” Students learn sustainability through collecting honey from the school’s apiary and maple syrup from the school’s trees. The school’s outdoor activities include hiking, canoeing or kayaking on the school’s eight lakes, biking, and skiing. Through 2017, all accepted students will receive Lowenstine Honors Scholarships, provided by James R. Lowenstine, that cover the full cost of tuition, room, and board. International students can receive partial scholarships, and families are still responsible for a $200 enrollment fee and transportation costs.
The Traveling School
The Traveling School,
founded in 2000, is a school that takes girls ages 15-18 overseas for a semester. Each semester, the school heads to a different location, such as Southeastern Africa or Central America. The curriculum involves honors-level work that follows the students’ courses in their home schools but that also involves more in-depth, hands-on learning. For example, students who visited the equator received a lecture from a scholar in Spanish and English about the astronomical importance of the equator, and the students also conducted experiments at the equator. The school’s mission reads as follows: “to enrich the lives of teenage girls with an enduring educational experience focusing on overseas exploration, academic challenges, expanded outdoor skills, and a deeper comprehension of the world we live in.” The curriculum emphasizes rigorous academics, environmental learning, outdoor activities, and learning from local cultures. The school welcomes students who are interested not only in academics but also in travel and cross-cultural experiences. The maximum program size is 16 students and four teachers. The Traveling School is a non-profit organization.