College Preparatory: Introduction
In our recent annual survey, 42% of our students and 52% of our parents said we were primarily a “college preparatory” school. The second highest group said we were a school that develops the whole child; and the third highest group said that we were an international school.
One of the parent’s comments was quite insightful; he said, “It depends on how you define the term college preparatory.” which I thought was a good point.
The term “college preparatory” is somewhat vacuous, like “excellence in education.” It can mean almost anything to anyone. So, in our brief time together, I thought I’d take a moment to define what SMA means when we say that we are college preparatory.
College Preparatory: Definition 1
Some schools call themselves “college preparatory” because they provide the high school credits that colleges would prefer to see on a transcript. SMA doesn’t view it that way. College preparatory for us means that students are “college ready,” not just getting credits.
To be “college preparatory,” SMA focuses on the development of the whole person. It says in Luke 2:52, that Jesus ” . . . grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.” That’s what we mean by college readiness; we mean a student is mentally, physically, spiritually and socially ready for the college environment.
College Preparatory: Definition 2
College prep for other schools is a code word for “elitist.” If you are wealthy enough or well-connected enough, you can then enroll in a school. When adolescents head off for college, however, they are exposed to a wide-array of beliefs, personalities and cultures. So, we do not believe that cloistering them in little make-believe bubbles prepares them for college or for life.
As you walk the halls of the Academy, you see that students from all over the world. There is a rich blend of cultures, where students attain real life experiences in the shelter of Christian adults with traditional values. SMA is “college preparatory,” NOT because it is elitist, but because it is truly a melting-pot.
So, for SMA “college preparatory” isn’t just a synonym for “high school graduate.” Neither is it referring to some elitist “bubble” to which only the well-connected and wealthy can apply.
College Preparatory: Definition 3
The third most common definition that people use for college preparatory is that it focuses exclusively on top-tier universities.
In my 16 years at San Marcos Academy, I am proud of our graduates that have graduated or are currently enrolled at Harvard, MIT, West Point, the United States Air Force Academy, the McCombs School of Business at University of Texas at Austin, the Texas A&M School of Engineering, Baylor University and the list goes on and on. In addition, our graduates often leave with 32 semester hours of college credit.
Yet, SMA does not have tunnel vision; we don’t develop students who are just “book smart.” College readiness, we realize, also involves a strong work-ethic, a clear moral compass, a vibrant faith in God and wisdom.
At SMA, we are all about transforming lives through the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and helping each student reach his or her full potential. So, when someone asks you, “Is SMA a college preparatory school?” You can confidently answer, “Yes, they prepare students to be mentally, physically, spiritually and socially ready to perform at whatever level of college they are capable of achieving.”
–By Robert Bryant, Academic Dean
Note: This is the first in a series of short video blogs (vlogs) designed to connect current and prospective parents with the Academy staff in exploring various aspects of the “Academy Experience.” In Episode 1, our Academic Dean identifies what “college preparatory” means in the context of our unique campus culture.