An education should prepare students for more than just a job. It should prepare them for life — ideally, one well-lived.
Opportunities — many and high in quality — make this possible. They do not need to be confined to the classroom. Learning can and should take place in studios, on stages, in the fields, and even beyond the country. Curricula must be expansive enough to cover beyond subject matter expertise, but they should also promote key soft skills like critical thinking, problem solving and effective communication.
Thankfully, many US schools are renowned for offering and promoting not just the above, but far more as well. They are aiming to develop graduates who will wow admissions officers and employers with their versatility, resilience, grit, and pleasantly lengthy CVs. If this is the kind of outcome you seek for your child, consider these schools providing well-rounded academic experiences in the US:
Rabun Gap-Nacoochee School
Preparing young people for college, career, and a lifetime of leadership and service since 1903.
A global community of learners from 56 different countries. 100% college acceptance to top universities in the US and around the globe. One of the top arts programmes in the country and a championship-level athletic programme.
These features define Rabun Gap-Nacoochee School, a private, coeducational day and boarding school for grades Pre-K through 12. Rabun Gap’s 1,400-acre campus is a two-hour drive from Atlanta, Georgia and surrounded by stunning views of the Appalachian Mountains.
Rabun Gap is one of the only schools in the US with a Circus Arts programme. Dubbed “Cirque,” the programme combines theatre performance, acrobatics, and dance. Cirque teaches students circus arts skills including Spanish web, aerial silks, trapeze, German wheel, aerial lyra, tumbling, and acrobatics. More importantly, Cirque enables students to harness their talent as they create an original and unique storytelling experience.
Rabun Gap’s unique applied learning curriculum offers hands-on experiences and real-world applications to prepare students for life after high school. A dedicated team of college counsellors work closely with students on their four-year plan. Students have earned acceptances to some of the top global institutions including Harvard University, Yale University, Berkeley, Georgia Institute of Technology, McGill University, the University of St Andrews, King’s College London, and more.
Rabun Gap’s vibrant and caring boarding community is a supportive space for students to learn and grow. Step beyond their classrooms and they have an abundance of natural rural beauty to explore within a safe environment. To learn more about one of the top private schools in the South, click here.
North Cross School
At North Cross School (NCS) — an independent, nonsectarian, college-preparatory school located in Roanoke, Virginia — boarding feels close to home but is far from ordinary. Your child will be safe and cared for, with plenty of social opportunities to enrich their academic experience. They live in apartment-style dormitories located in a downtown setting with walking access to over 25 restaurants, an art museum, shops, walking/biking trails, hiking trails, a gym, and more. It’s a short drive to some of the best mountain biking, hiking, and other outdoor attractions in the southeast as well.
However, NCS is more than just a school for children from early childhood (age three) through 12th grade to live and learn in harmony. It’s a place where students do more than achieve intellectual and academic growth – they gain personal integrity, empathy, and responsibility to self and community as well.
A focus on teaching students to ask the right questions – and to ask often – makes this possible. In small classes, they get to dive deeper into subjects in individualised lessons, guided by teachers who speed up or slow down as needed. The goal is to teach each NCS student to mastery, not to pass exams.
Its Upper School offers a wide range of classes and Advanced Placement, or college-level, classes – 18 in total. Three graduation distinctions in Global Studies, STEM, and Fine Arts complement what students learn in classrooms. They get to travel (for example to Washington, D.C. for the March for Women’s Lives) and add a global perspective to their knowledge; complete a senior project and join activities related to STEM; and capitalise on artistic opportunities and events in and outside of school.
Situated in South Dakota, Freeman Academy welcomes students of all backgrounds. Its goal is to enrich them with a well-rounded education that encourages creativity. After all, cultivating imagination is a central aspect of learning here.
Passions are sparked for learners in grades nine to 12 through the integration of knowledge from mathematics, English, the sciences, social studies, and theology. The combination aims to shape students who are intellectually active, curious, thoughtful, and reflective — all the traits they would need to pursue their post-graduation aspirations confidently.
Outside the classroom, students are mastering the sports of basketball, cross country, football, golf, soccer, track and field, volleyball, wrestling and more. Those with the urge to perform do so through drama lessons while budding arts sharpen their visual arts skills.
With such rigour comes the need to unwind every now and then. Thankfully, Freeman Academy’s boarding programme acts as a home away from home. Each dorm can house 16 students in two-bedroom suites that come with built-in desks, closets, private showers and sink vanities. When students are in the mood to interact, they do so in an expansive community dining room or the living area.
Bishop Carroll Catholic High School, Pennsylvania
Situated in Ebensburg, Pennsylvania, the Bishop Carroll Catholic High School educates students in spirit, heart, mind and body. They believe that by striving for excellence in these four pillars, students will lay a strong foundation in building a rewarding life both as students and productive members of society.
Bishop Carroll’s academic programme was created with the intention of guiding students towards the development of their skills and capabilities – spiritually, morally, mentally, physically, socially, and emotionally. Programmes cover Religion, English, Mathematics, Computers, History, Science, Language, Business, Fine Arts, Physical Education, and a suite of general electives.
Extracurricular activities are a vital part of the signature Bishop Carroll experience as well, each set in place to further enrich school days. Students can choose from over 30 activities, clubs and organisations — such as the award-winning Drama Club.
However, what truly sets this school apart is the way it takes parent perspectives into account. “As a school community, we believe that children flourish in their learning and growth when parents and educators join together in a partnership that is characterised by clearly defined and shared responsibilities, open lines of communication, trust, mutual respect, and a common goal: doing what is best for the student to develop the whole child,” confirms head of school Stephen B. Cotchen.
*Some of the institutions featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International