I paid a visit to Culver Academies (Culver, IN) last week and I intend to share my thoughts about that visit very soon. (That is, as soon as I get my head wrapped around everything I learned and saw, I’ll commit it to keyboard.)
But this morning I’m in Colorado Springs and on my way to the Fountain Valley School, another high school with a top equestrian program (they earned IEA national championships in 2007 and 2010), which I suspect may bring up a question for readers; that is:
If you’re the Equestrian College Advisor, why all the high school visits?
The short answer is, first and foremost, that every college student comes from somewhere (namely, a high school), but the long answer will (I hope!) be a little more enlightening.
There are a lot of cool high schools in the United States that are actually set up like mini-colleges and have their own equestrian facilities on campus. I’ve visited a lot of these schools during my college admission days in an effort to recruit students and, the more I got to know them and understand what they’re able to offer to students that maybe other, more traditional high schools aren’t, the more interest I had in being able to help students utilize these academic avenues on their path to college.
Am I a boarding school expert? Not at all. Am I of the opinion that every student who rides is going to fast-track their collegiate equestrian career by attending one of these schools? Hardly.
Here’s what I do believe:
For some students, a boarding school environment is ideal for their learning experience in middle and/or high school. In addition, for some students who are very serious about their equestrian aspirations and goals, a boarding school environment that incorporates top-level coaching, travel to competitions, and high level academic support while they’re expanding their abilities in the saddle, can be a perfect arrangement.
Think about it – instead of having to make special arrangements with your public or private school to travel for weeks at a time to a very important competition with your horse (and having to explain along the way why this is an important competition and what exactly happens at a horse show in the first place), you simply go to the competition. While you’re there, your coaches work with your teachers and counselors back at school to make sure that you’re on track with the rest of your classmates.
Easy, right? For some students, it can be – and having the best of both worlds is what they seek in their high school experience.
In addition, nearly every boarding school I’ve visited does a summer program (read: summer riding program) that incorporates their instructional staff, facilities, and often even their horses and can offer a student who may not have the financial wherewithal to attend that school year-round as a regular student the opportunity to ride in that environment for a week or for several weeks during summer break to expand their equestrian horizons. (Similarly, many colleges and universities run summer programs as well, therefore presenting students with another option for exploring different equestrian possibilities during their school holidays.)
In summary, if I’m familiar with these schools and their programs (the academic, the equestrian, and the summer!), I’m better able to serve my students, whether they have questions about high school, summer programs, or that “right fit” future college.
(Want to know which boarding schools I’ve been to and might be right for you? Contact me and let’s chat!)