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4 US schools nurturing tomorrow’s global changemakers

US Schools

Good schools offer so much more than a rigorous academic programme and many co-curricular activities. For young minds to thrive, their education must take them beyond the four walls of a traditional classroom, immersing them in hands-on experiences that bring to life what they learn in theory. From exploring the wilderness to engaging in worthy causes, such experiences can do more than rote reading and learning from a thousand textbooks.

As such, finding a school that offers experiential learning for your child is incredibly important. In such schools, your child will grow in a holistic environment and follow a curriculum from within and beyond the classroom. They will gain character-building values, the very kind that turn them into the highly sought-after individuals that institutions and employers around the world value. Along the way, in what they’ll call a home away from home, they’ll gain new friends and memories for life.

These US schools offer just that: 

UWC-USA

Few schools offer an education that unites people, nations and cultures the way UWC-USA does. Here, over 200 students from more than 90 countries live, study and adventure together in a change-making community that aims to make a difference in the world.

Such impact is thanks to the school’s Constructive Engagement of Conflict programme, designed to give students the tools to work across cultures, languages, and ethnicities to build teams and partnerships that are desperately needed to solve the world’s most challenging problems. Each year, students contribute over 17,000 volunteer hours to community service, pushing them to build the skills of peacemaking, conflict resolution, goal-setting and collaboration.

Located on the edge of the Pecos Wilderness, UWC-USA provides the ideal setting for students to learn how to lead in the outdoors and build a strong sense of stewardship for the natural world through the Wilderness Programme. They also learn sustainable agriculture and contribute to the community, as seen in their activities, clubs and service opportunities.

Pair the school’s values-based social engagement with rigorous IB academics, and students here emerge with a stronger sense of self and all they need to lead a meaningful life. Their IB credentials are not only accepted at more than 600 universities and colleges in nearly 50 countries; every year, many impress admissions officers at Ivy League and other highly selective universities with their intellectual curiosity, solid academic fundamentals, and capacity for living in a diverse environment too.

Graduate Andrea Parry can confirm this: “This is the education I have been seeking my entire life. The open-mindedness to diverse perspectives, critical thinking, and personal challenges are perhaps the key qualities underlying the mission of the UWC movement.” Click here to find out more about how students at UWC-USA are working to become agents for change.

Vermont Academy

US schools

Vermont Academy is where students are supported to be their best selves. Source: Vermont Academy

Located at the foothills of the Green Mountains in Saxtons River, a gorgeous corner of New England, Vermont Academy is where students are supported to be their best selves. Here, students flourish academically, emotionally, and physically in preparation for college. 

At this private boarding school, over 200 students from 20 states and 21 countries in grades nine through to 12 — plus a postgraduate year — get to take part in an empowering combination of experiential learning and outdoor experiences. Its small size and emphasis on relationships ensure that teachers know every student personally, paving the way for academic and personal growth. Through its signature MAPS (My Action Plan for Success) programme, students work on documents that allow advisors, teachers, coaches, and parents to give feedback to them and help keep track of their progress. 

These documents cover several areas, from student self-assessment of strengths and weaknesses to learning preferences and goal setting with action steps for success. “My first week at Vermont Academy, I began working with my advisor on my MAPS plan. It was a great way to start thinking and talking about my future and the classes that interest me,” says alumnus Will Svensson. 

The MAPS programme is housed in the Center For Learning at Vermont Academy, responsible for student growth and learning.

Lake Forest Academy

US schools

At LFA, students own their education. Source: Lake Forest Academy/Facebook

Just 30 miles north of Chicago is the beautiful Lake Forest Academy (LFA). A boarding school for children in grades nine through 12, LFA guides young adults through a well-rounded, student-centric education that extends beyond the classroom curriculum, centering around rigorous academics, a global outlook and Midwestern values.

LFA’s curriculum is individualised, tailored to each of its students to create a safe, challenging and inspiring learning experience. LFA believes that students own their education. As such, each is given a multitude of choices, from classrooms to sporting spaces, co-curricular lineups and more. As students progress, they broaden their horizons with lessons in Biochemistry Research, Web Development, and Human Rights while completing a four-year programme designed to prepare them for college and beyond.

The school wishes for its students to leave the campus as inspired, global citizens who will delve into an area of study and flourish. This is done by cultivating a deeper sense of global awareness and understanding. Students are always encouraged to explore beyond campus — be it virtually, physically or philosophically.

Artistic aspirants have a place here too thanks to an Arts Concentration in Music, Theatre or Visual Arts. They master their craft through after-school lessons, programmes, and practice time — all of which are in-depth, and often delivered through one-to-one instruction.

Idyllwild Arts

US schools

Idyllwild Arts Academy is perfectly situated a short distance from Los Angeles. Source: Idyllwild Arts Academy

Nestled on 205 acres of pristine pine forest located in the renowned arts village of Idyllwild in Southern California’s San Jacinto Mountains, Idyllwild Arts is home to children, pre-teens and teenagers who come to hone their talent and develop new skills. Here, almost 300 students from over 30 countries pursue artistic excellence.

Diverse yet intimate, multicultural yet deliberately secluded, ambitious yet supportive — these factors let the arts become the greatest teacher of humanity, to the boundless advantage of Idyllwild Arts students.

“Each year, hundreds of summer campers and academy students travel 5,200 feet into the mountains to Idyllwild, California,” shares Pamela Jordan, President and Head of School. “Once here, they walk onto a picturesque campus with dorms, charming classrooms, practice rooms and studios all surrounded by beautiful wooded terrain.”

The academy is a creative sanctuary for those who want to blaze their own trail, map their own path, and be surrounded by the majestic and untamed. Just two hours from Los Angeles and San Diego, Southern California’s only boarding arts high school offers a variety of majors — Music, Visual Arts, Creative Writing, Fashion Design, Theatre, Dance, Film and Digital Media — along with college-prep academics.

Classes are small and seminar-style, providing the ideal setting for teachers to impart their knowledge and guide students to create the world anew. They teach individuality and spur students to pursue their private dreams for the public good. 

*Some of the institutions featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International