Location:Albuquerque, New Mexico
Enrollment:1,100 boys and girls in grades 6-12
Diversity:49% students of color
Tuition:About $19,000 per year, including lunch
Financial Aid:Roughly 30% to 40% of the student body receives need-based financial aid, totaling $5 million each year
What the school is like:
Albuquerque Academy is a top-notch college-prep school whose generous financial aid policies allow for a great deal of socio-economic diversity. The school received a large land grant in the 1960s, and because of its large endowment, it is able to offer 30-40% of its students need-based aid. The level of its financial aid program is roughly twice that of most independent schools. While the cost of educating each student is around $35,000, Albuquerque Academy keeps its tuition at about $19,000. In addition, it offers its students a healthy and delicious lunch program, the cost of which is included in the tuition. The academy’s students come from about 80 schools in the greater Albuquerque area. The result is a meritocratic, vibrant school with unsurpassed resources and an amazing ability to transform the lives of its students.
Originally founded as the Academy for Boys in an Albuquerque church basement in 1955, the academy moved to its current location in 1965. The high school became co-educational in 1973, and the whole school became co-ed by 1984.
The beautiful campus sits on over 300 acres at the foot of the breathtaking Sandia Mountains. The school is separated into three divisions: grades 6-7, grades 8-9, and grades 10-12. The campus includes a solar array that generates 25-30% of the school’s energy, and the school is trying to reduce its carbon footprint and become a more environmentally sustainable school . The campus also includes tennis courts, a competition pool and an all-purpose pool that can accommodate a diving tank, playing fields, a beautiful library that is open until 8pm, professional-level theaters, and an arts building with kilns and darkrooms. The school has a 57,000-square-foot science center with state-of-the art lab spaces and a seismograph. Through a collaborative program with nearby Sandia National Labs, the school offers a rocketry and other programs.
The school’s academic program is rigorous and thoughtful. The average class size is 17 students, and the student-to-teacher ratio is 9:1. All students take Spanish in grades 6 and 7, and some students choose to enroll in a World Languages program that offers Arabic, Mandarin, Hindi, Japanese, and Russian in alternating years. Students enrolled in this program study one of these languages for five years. The performing-arts program, which includes an unequalled classical guitar program, puts on 30 concerts per year. The school has a recording studio in which students can burn their own CDs, and the students play in all types of bands, including steel drum and classical guitar. The academy offers 23 Advanced Placement classes. The senior-year English class is a college-level course involving the study of literature and writing, and the senior humanities class involves reading works by writers such as Plato, Aristotle, Freud, and others.
Outside the classroom, students take part in experiential educational activities and retreats that include canoeing, backpacking, and rock climbing. The experiential educational programs are designed to develop students’ personal and leadership qualities as well as their awareness of how to live environmentally sustainable lives. The school fields 55 teams in 21 sports and has very competitive teams, particularly in cross-country and swimming. The school is also a top competitor in science bowl contests and speech and debate competitions.
Graduates from the school attend Ivy League and other top colleges around the country, including the University of Texas at Austin, the University of New Mexico, and the University of Arizona. Many students matriculate at the University of New Mexico because the New Mexico Lottery Scholarships allow state residents who graduate from in-state high schools to attend state colleges and universities for free.
Albuquerque Academy is very thoughtful about helping the families of its students. For example, the school library is open until 8pm so that the students of working parents can stay late at the school and complete their work in comfortable spaces with computers. The school offers families the opportunity to use its beautiful arts buildings and pottery studios. The academy changes the lives of the students it touches, and it has made a commitment to fostering socio-economic diversity that is inspirational.