College Prep Schools

Some college prep schools combine a college preparatory curriculum with a military program. If you are considering these, as well as other military schools for your son, this article will introduce college prep schools to you.

A college prep school or preparatory school is a school that is focused on college preparation. Unlike many schools, for example, the neighborhood public school, which operates on the assumption that graduates may go on to jobs, vocational training, community college, the military, or traditional four-year colleges and universities, college prep schools are focused on preparing students for four-year tertiary institutions. And most of the time, the aim is to send as many students as possible to the best institutions possible, not only in the United States, but in the world.

Types of College Prep Schools

College prep schools have several varieties. There are the military prep schools, as we’ve discussed, as well as schools with a religious affiliation. These days, it is often true that while faith may help shape activities and some of the curriculum (like mandatory chapel attendance), it is usually not a factor in admission. Another division among college prep schools is their admission of boys only, girls only, or students of both genders. As in a military school, the decision to place your son in a school with only boys is one to give due consideration.

College preparatory schools may be day schools, boarding schools, or have both day and boarding students. This decision, of course, must take into account where you happen to live: there are mileage restrictions about who can attend as day students, and in any case, spending too much time on the road is not ideal for a teen. But also the decision should take into account how the family, including your son, feels about where the he should be living during his teen years. At some schools, boarding during the week and going home for weekends may be an option. Check the schools you are interested in for more details.

While most college prep schools are simply focused on academic excellence, there are also college prep schools for students with particular talents or that offer a curriculum with a particular bent. For example, Idyllwild Arts Academy offers college preparatory curriculum, as well as pre-professional training in visual arts, theatre, music, film and video, dance, and creative writing. CCI The Renaissance School, offers a North American college prep curriculum, but does so on location in Lanciano, Italy. Stratton Mountain School combines a winter sports academy that prepares Olympic level athletes with a college preparatory academic program. If your son has a special academic interest or athletic talent, it may well be that you can find a program in which this can be developed along with college preparation.

College Preparatory School Considerations

In this day and age, most college prep schools have a website, and many have a DVD, as well as brochures, to send you. Their accreditation(s) should be prominently displayed. You can also search online for reviews.

The admissions requirements will tell you something about whether this is a good match for your son. Read them carefully, and look for good fits. Of course, if you are looking far in advance, you can plan to create a better fit than might happen by chance.

In a military school setting, the source of the order and discipline are fairly clear. When considering a college prep school, there are more questions to be asked in this realm to discover the philosophy behind the way in which students are treated and how they are expected to behave and treat each other. This may be explained on the website in an About or Mission statement.

As with any school, when considering a college prep school you should consider the qualifications of the faculty, the record (what percentage of students graduate; what percentage attend college; what colleges do they attend), the campus, the financial security, the curriculum, and the support in place for students having problems of any kind. A visit is highly desirable, not only to get the “feel” of the place, but to see what the food is like, experience the classroom and dorm atmosphere, and see if the campus is a pleasant place to spend time.


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