Oak Hill Academy is the college prep boarding school where students are met where they are and grow forward, changing their trajectory.
About three years ago, a student summed up, very succinctly, something I speak about at length every day to prospective families. He described his Oak Hill experience as “college with training wheels.” I remain struck by the simplicity and accuracy of that statement.
One of the biggest impacts of a boarding school education is the independence and confidence that come from successfully navigating a focused educational and social experience without the familiarity of home. It can be somewhat (or a lot) uncomfortable, especially at first. That discomfort is important, as we all know that growth occurs outside our comfort zone. It also takes a certain amount of courage to jump into a new, unfamiliar lifestyle, and when students look back on their time at Oak Hill Academy (on a campus surrounded by beautiful Virginia mountains) there is an overwhelming sense that this courage was rewarded. It is said that few things worthwhile are easy, and it is apparent that our students learn that at Oak Hill Academy.
While we don’t intentionally make it harder for students – boarding schools, by nature, have rules – there are routines and boundaries that our students work within and sometimes bump up against. Our approach in working with students, many of whom had not been having the kind of success they crave (and of which they are capable), means that there is as much coaching going on here as teaching. It’s an important distinction: Effective teaching and academic rigor is important, but our students are looking for a new approach to school which also includes support and a sense of engagement that comes from relationships, both with teachers and peers. We are very good at that kind of school community.
Our students are bright, and routinely find themselves wanting more for themselves; wanting more out of a high school education than they used to. Seeing other students around them feeling good about being on top of school (for a change) encourages their desire for that same feeling. And as they set their sights higher, they develop improved interpersonal skills and an overall maturity. A structured boarding school environment with boundaries and routines that promote good habits leads to self-discipline and a sense of competency. That is the Turning Point.
Wanting more for themselves also means that our students open up college options that would not have existed with their previous transcripts, and perhaps more to the point, their previous mindsets. It is a core belief at Oak Hill Academy that once students taste success, they want more of it. That doesn’t mean our school is “easy.” Far from it. Our students know the pressures of deadlines, the need for time management, and the challenge of changing gears after socializing or sports practice and shifting into the business of study time. Academic preparation is key, so our curriculum engages and challenges, with some very rigorous classes that include dual/college credit and AP options for the many students who grow into that. But for students in serious need of changing their trajectory, it is the personal growth–the kind that allows them to see themselves in a new light–that is at the heart of the Oak Hill Academy mission. These are the students we seek to enroll.
If you are reading this and see your student being described here, I want you to contact me to discuss, in more detail, our support pieces and intentional approach that may relate directly to the kind of change you are seeking for your student (and more often than many realize, they are seeking for themselves).