Late Boarding School Admission
There is a broad spectrum of factors to consider when looking at boarding school options for your student. Just as people have unique personalities, so too do boarding schools and finding the right match requires some research that often goes beyond the website. Oak Hill Academy has a busy campus tour season that coincides with students being present on campus for our summer session running from June 20-July 22 and when families visit us, here are the top 3 things I want them to see that go beyond what is found on our website:
- The people. While our website does a decent job of relaying the tidiness and beauty of campus, only a visit can truly showcase of most outstanding feature – the people here. Our location in Grayson County, Virginia makes us one of the most rural boarding high schools on the east coast, but it has the side-benefit of helping to create an outstandingly tight-knit faculty and student body. I’ve raised my 4 children alongside my colleague’s children as they’ve grown up in faculty housing on campus. Our students rely on each other to create, in the classic sense, community – as there is no surrounding town, so each year, we create our own community. This is something that is easily felt during a tour as our students stop to speak with families throughout. Spend 5 minutes in the Alumni Campus Store and the easy relationships are evident.
- Diversity. Many boarding schools tout an international population and that is one of the classic benefits of a boarding school experience. I urge you to look a little deeper at those numbers. At Oak Hill Academy, we are not relying on a single source of international students. The result is an international population representing 16 countries. Economic diversity is another thing that is hard to convey through numbers, but Oak Hill Academy’s position on the affordable end of the boarding school spectrum is an important contributing factor to diversity on campus. Our student body does not feel entitled, instead we are a “roll your sleeves up and work together” environment.
- Mission. Our mission statement is very clearly communicated on our website. However, what this “feels” like is much more effectively communicated through a visit. Faculty sharing a snack with a student on the Alumni School Store deck after school, a college guidance counselor helping a student connect with a college admission representative on the phone, and a teacher loading a van of students to visit a local elementary school are three vignettes a recent tour noticed. As the overwhelming majority of our faculty and staff live on campus, their investment in our students knows no time clock.
The Admission Department will be conducting campus visits and interviews throughout the summer. Please contact us to discuss a good time to visit and you are urged to “go beyond the website.” It is the best way to truly know what is special about Oak Hill Academy.
At this time of year, many of my admission calls begin with the question, “Is Oak Hill Academy still accepting applications?” We are, and I would like to take some time to explain the philosophy of late admission and rolling admission.
A review of our school’s website will uncover that Oak Hill Academy is a small, coed, college-prep boarding school that serves the very unique niche of focusing on the student who has not been having the kind of success of which they are capable. As grades come out at the end of the school year, parents and students are having the conversation that a change is needed. For some, poor grades expose a need for a change of academic environment, a change in peer group, or even a change in home dynamics.
When a student (and family) recognizes that attending Oak Hill Academy is an opportunity to make these kinds of changes and to redefine themselves in a new environment, we want to be available. We also intentionally keep space available for families who are having these conversations early in the school year.
Please visit our website http://www.oak-hill.net to understand these opportunities in greater detail. Our enrollment cycle accounts for families who are making these decisions at this time of year – well into the summer months. As the Director of Admission, I am happy to consider applicants who are a fit for this mission and I am currently conducting campus visits and interviews. Contact me now to discuss.
A common theme among admission calls I receive at Oak Hill Academy is the general thought that “college is right around the corner and my son/daughter is not ready.” As a truly college prep boarding school (95% college acceptance), Oak Hill Academy really excels at working with students with college-bound intentions who may not have the transcript, habits or mindset in place to maximize that ambition.
Our college-prep curriculum and rigor is supported by several academic support components:
- Our small class sizes (8-10 on average) promotes strong relationships between teachers and students. This is often the key to unlocking a student’s potential – a teacher who takes the time to address their particular learning style and engages the student personally. Pretty quickly our students have the epiphany that “something is different” with their classroom experience.
- Relationships are further cemented through our 8th period tutorial program. Our teachers, most of whom live on campus themselves, are available outside of class time. Each day, office hours are built into the academic schedule allowing teachers to call students in for specific reasons that we pick up on class – a homework deficiency or a confused look for example – and to give some shoulder to shoulder coaching. Students also regularly use this time to get tutoring for an upcoming test or quiz. Questions from students do not go unanswered…or unasked.
- Regularly scheduled tutorial sessions are provided for students who are struggling or working under potential in a class.
- Our Resource Center supports learning needs across the curriculum. Issues such as time management, critical reading, note-taking, and organization are improved through this guided after school program. Students can use this to get a jump on homework or develop a study plan for the evening study time with guidance and coaching from a faculty member.
- All of this is supported by the independent study time that is mandatory in our dorms each evening. Students also use this opportunity to form study groups or use peer-mentors. Our students love to study together!
Oak Hill Academy offers a unique approach in the college-prep, boarding school world. If you are looking for a turning point in your student’s high school experience, I invite you call or email Director of Admission, Mike Rodgers for a personal discussion. With rolling admission, quality applicants are still being considered throughout the first semester.
It is time for a parent to parent blog entry. This is the time of year when parents around the country are having those late night, kitchen table discussions to evaluate how this new school year has begun. Initial grade reports may have already, or soon will, come out and all of the intentions going into the school year are being checked. Because I have kids of my own, I’m very familiar with this time-honored ritual. Also, because Oak Hill Academy has rolling admission AND our wheelhouse is in working with students who are not working to their potential, I am very attuned to this time of year. I understand the frustration, felt by some at this point in the year, as the goals and good intentions agreed to during the summer appear to be slipping away. Your student may even be entering that pattern of de-motivation at the prospect of another year of disappointing grades and habits that you’ve seen before. Deep down, they know they are capable of so much more and you’ve probably determined that a change in setting may in order.
Our approach at Oak Hill Academy rests on a very important principle: “There is no such thing as an underachieving child, only an unmotivated one.”
The intentional structure and support, found at Oak Hill Academy, enables us to work well with a variety of learning challenges and mindset challenges and to provide the opportunities for real academic, personal and spiritual growth. Our small school size means small classrooms where students and teachers establish meaningful relationships. The feeling of being away at school is often empowering to the Oak Hill Academy students. They own their successes, develop pride in taking care of business with the learning support and organized structure we provide and they begin to expect more from, and for, themselves. This is a very real opportunity for the student to redefine themselves.
If you are considering a change for your student at this critical juncture, let’s have a conversation about Oak Hill Academy. We are very experienced with integrating new students throughout the first semester and some of the greatest success stories begin this way. It is very easy to find out more and I welcome this personal discussion and opportunity to learn more about your student’s needs, challenges and goals. Oak Hill Academy is The Turning Point for many students and this may be precisely the point in time to consider a change in their trajectory.
A new class has been added to the English Department at Oak Hill Academy in response to the identifiable needs of our students as they enter college: Critical Reading for College. This course is designed to assist students in improving their skills in critical reading specifically as it applies to types of reading they will be doing as college freshman and as applicants for college. A special emphasis will be placed on the redesigned “Evidence Based Reading and Writing” section of the SAT.
The relationship between writing skills and improved reading skills is the basis of this class. Students will review a variety of writing conventions – persuasive, research, comparative, and editorial to name a few. Due to the heavy volume of reading and writing, especially in introductory level college classes, we’ve identified this as point of emphasis in preparing our students for college. This new class represents a response to information we’ve received through a continued contact with our alumni base and feedback they’ve provided as to the most practical preparation we can offer to our students as they become college freshman. The goal with this class is continue to grow our student’s preparedness with an increased understanding of sentence structure, flow, and transitioning elements in the kind of writing (and by extension, reading) they will encounter most in college.
The decision to consider boarding school as an option frequently follows a period of frustration with a student’s current situation with school, peer group, or even family, dynamics. Today, I would like to address some of what I consider to be very legitimate or valid reasons to consider boarding school, and Oak Hill Academy in particular, for your student. Also, I want to emphasize that it is not uncommon that this decision is reached in August after a summer of family conversations. In fact, August is a particularly busy time of year for me in Admission given our mission of offering a turning point for students who need a change.
I often tell prospective families that Oak Hill Academy‘s “wheelhouse” is in working with students who have not had the kind of success of which they are capable. Often times, this has absolutely nothing to do with ability or academic intelligence. Sometimes, the most successful Oak Hill students come to us because they are seeking a smaller, more personally engaging educational experience because they are either not being challenged in their current setting or they learn best in a way that is not conducive to a larger classroom setting. While we do not try to be all things to all people, the fact is we work well with both types of students.
The combination of structure and a relationship-based approach allows us to do this. For the unmotivated student, an environment of structured study hall, built-in tutorial opportunities, and accountability (one cannot hide in a small class) allows them the chance to experience success that comes from staying on top of academic responsibilities. Once they experience this success, they want more of it. Case in point to which parents of unmotivated students can surely relate: getting zeroes on homework, piling up as the semester goes on and putting a “good” grade out of the picture is often the most obvious demotivating factor. This does not happen at Oak Hill as we have a built in “8th period tutorial” in the schedule where homework deficiencies are addressed with as much “coaching” as “teaching.” Our mandatory evening study hall times reinforces that no matter how “busy” our students get, they have a consistent time built in to take care of “business.”
For the student who seeks to be challenged to new academic heights, the small class environment enables us to push students on a very individual and personal basis (See the blog posted on 3/17/15 “Benefits of Small Classes”). Our core courses come with an honors option that provides enriched assignments and additional depth. Also, our several dual college credit classes that span the core offerings provides a real college-world rigor. That same structure, outlined above, provides an opportunity for students to become more achievement-oriented. They learn the feeling of pride that comes with staying on top assignments and begin to appreciate the act of learning.
An underlying theme is also the growth that comes for a student at Oak Hill Academy where a desire for more independence has led them to consider boarding school. The Oak Hill boarding school experience is empowering for our students. They “own” their success. A new peer group, away from home allows them to pursue a new self-image. I often see students here who are becoming who they want to be. Many times, that can only happen in a brand new environment.
Back to the point of this post at this time. Often families come to the conclusion after much soul-searching at this perceived “late” time of the year. The fact is, our admission process allows for a very personal, case by case evaluation of applications and this process can be fast, while not rushed. In short, you are not too late if you are considering placement at Oak Hill Academy. For example, I do not conduct the “open-house” model of tours, instead I meet with families individually. I encourage you to contact me to arrange a tour this August. I am also available to discuss your student’s particular situation at length by telephone. I invite you to take the first step in addressing the question that may have been on your mind for some time – is boarding school a better option for my student? Please contact me via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or simply call me in the Admission Department at (276) 579-2619.
Regards, Mike Rodgers
Director of Admission