Oak Hill Academy’s school mission is offering a “Turning Point” for students who are struggling or not being engaged fully in their current environment. Given this mission, offering rolling admission – often referred to as “open enrollment,” is important. As we head toward the second semester of the school year, many families are evaluating how this school year is going for their students. Oak Hill Academy receives many inquiries from families who are expressing frustration that old, recurring patterns of under-performance have resurfaced and their students appear unmotivated. Seeking to salvage the year, they have determined that a change is needed. The question becomes, “What should that new approach look like?” Here are three important considerations to help guide your search for a good boarding school fit for your student:
How much structure is present in the school?
There is a spectrum of structure in the boarding school world. From military structure all the way to very little structure in some academically elite boarding schools – there are many choices. Oak Hill Academy’s approach falls somewhere between those two extremes, but is skewed toward the highly structured end of the spectrum. A student recently described our environment aptly as feeling like “college with training wheels.” Being away from home fosters a sense of independence that is a catalyst for many students, but the boundaries provided by things like mandatory study hours, cell phone and social media limitations, tutorials, dress code, keeping a clean dorm room that is inspected daily, and a high degree of adult supervision help our students develop the positive habits that change their trajectory. While Oak Hill is most definitely structured, there is room to make choices within these boundaries so that it doesn’t feel “punitive.”
What is the amount of academic rigor offered?
Oak Hill Academy is a college prep boarding school with well over 90% college acceptance rate historically. It is important that colleges know that our curriculum prepares students for success. Some of our students are going on to very competitive colleges and universities, but we do not portray ourselves as an “Ivy League Prep School.” Our students are coming to Oak Hill Academy to grow academically. This usually involves changing the way they view themselves. We are very good at meeting students where they are and moving them forward – by tasting success, developing relationships with their teachers that is supportive but with high expectations, and by gaining experience following a good routine. We recognize different learning styles and work with a variety of learning challenges in a very intentional way. It is important to know that Oak Hill Academy is not a “sink or swim” environment, and that we do as much coaching as teaching in our classrooms and dorms. As students grow and want more for themselves, we are able to meet them with challenging AP and Dual-Credit College classes.
What is the right size?
Bigger is not always better, especially when it comes to a student body. It is important to our mission of helping students grow to maintain small class sizes – 8-10 students on average, with many classes smaller than 10. The relationships that develop with a small student body are often life-changing. As a young person grows, so too should their peer group. At Oak Hill Academy, with a student body made up of students seeking self-improvement and personal growth, a positive peer group is found. Our students want to study together because they want to see each other do well. Our teachers know our students’ individual strengths and weaknesses and work to develop strategies that are very personal to the student. Having a student body that is approximately 150 is central to Oak Hill Academy’s mission.
As you find yourself considering a boarding school option for your student, we hope you look closely at Oak Hill Academy and our unique approach. The beginning of the second semester has been a natural starting point for many of our students. There is, however, limited space available in our second semester enrollment and now is the time to consider Oak Hill Academy. There is still time for proper consideration and a campus visit while our current semester is in session between our Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks. I would love for you to meet our students and staff and see a regular school day on The Hill.