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How a Small Private School Education Uniquely Prepares Students for College

April 30th, 2019

Nature provides interesting metaphors for life, and one is that of the mother bird giving her baby the not-so-subtle nudge out of the nest. In order to teach her little ones to fly, she simply nudges them off the edge of their nest. It usually takes a few times before the instinct to flutter their wings kicks in. And off they go! Well, sort of. Watching the baby hit the ground is cringe inducing. But watching that baby flutter along — not quite soaring but not falling either — allows us to let out a sigh of relief.

We humans are a bit more complicated. And yet, the idea that college readiness is all about academics is similar to the idea that soaring is all about ­not falling! Yes, it is a given that students need to be well-prepared academically to be accepted into college, but they will need the mastery of many more life skills in order to thrive and rise to their fullest potential — to soar. A small private school education uniquely prepares students for these skills.

Perhaps the most important factor associated with this preparation is due to the smaller class size that allows for a full immersion of the benefits associated with an individualized education. A primary challenge associated with public high schools and large private schools is the larger class size. When a teacher is assigned 30 to 40 students per class, it is impossible for that teacher to maintain the awareness and agility that is required to meet the needs of each individual student. It is precisely this individual attention that is needed at this delicate stage of human development to help students achieve their potential, especially as it relates to critical life skills such as effectively managing stress, time management, project management, and the development of emotional and cultural intelligence.

The mission of Selwyn School is to cultivate global citizens who embrace complex challenges with empathetic and innovative thinking that advances the human condition. To accomplish this, we must go far beyond academic excellence. We must ensure teens are given the individual attention and nurturance to develop the ability to parse out the nuances associated with complex challenges and the courage and confidence to try new ways of thinking and doing in order to arrive at new and innovative solutions.

A Selwyn high school education gives students the opportunity to apply the critical lessons of our challenging academic curriculum to real-world questions and projects. Our experiential learning approach helps students better understand and appreciate the material and improves retention. Our expanding outdoor education program is a prime example of this approach, extending a hands-on, collaborative approach to cross-disciplinary topics. 

Deep, meaningful learning only occurs if the lessons are conveyed in a way that speaks directly to each student. To accomplish this, Selwyn individualizes our teaching, changing as each student changes over the course of four years. Weekly teacher evaluations consider each student’s strengths, needs and learning style and constantly fine-tune our focus. Again, Selwyn’s size is a critical advantage here, empowering us to know which students want a dive deep into ancient Greek philosophy and which require a little extra support to conquer geometry. Each student is taught to his or her fullest potential.

Selwyn understands the competitive nature and academic rigors of higher education and professional careers. Beginning their freshman year, the Upper School Research Program guides each student through an annual project designed to prepare them for university-level research expectations.

Selwyn is uniquely equipped when it comes to rigorous academic preparation to lay the groundwork for college and life beyond. More than academics, colleges and companies alike cite a concerning shortage of competencies among graduates in skills that are critically important. These competencies, captured in our Portrait of a Selwyn Graduate, inform every aspect of an Upper School student life at Selwyn. Selwyn prepares your student to understand and respond effectively to obstacles. We work tirelessly to instill a sense of confidence, build a community and develop leadership that sticks with them throughout their lives. Our graduates complete a portfolio of group initiatives and learn the ability to work effectively with all manner of global customs and cultures. We do all of this within an environment that is respectful to all, unflinchingly honest and compassionate toward others regardless of differences. Learn more about this transformative model on our completely updated website and discover the value of a small private high school education.


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