Education Matters—Sanford School's Private School Blog

Benefits of an Advanced Placement (AP) curriculum

Posted by Lynn Casto on November 11, 2016 at 5:01 PM


When selecting high schools, multiple factors weigh into a family’s decision: size, location, strength of program, and programmatic choice, to name a few. The presence of an Advanced Placement (AP) curriculum within a high school signals a respected level of educational excellence. AP courses offer rigorous college-level content within a secondary school setting.

A school with an AP program may provide many benefits to students and families: 

  • Students develop the habits of mind and skills required to be successful in college courses while still in high school.
  • In-depth study of a particular field often leads to students discovering a passion and pursing that field as a major in college.
  • College admissions officers often view students who score well on AP exams as being more prepared than those who have not experienced AP to handle college-level academics thus predicting a higher rate of success in college.
  • Students within the AP program are viewed by college admissions officers as willing to pursue challenge, hard-working, and self-motivated.
  • AP provides a standard measure by which students applying to college can be compared. Students can distinguish themselves within an elite group of students.
  • Students who score well on AP exams may receive college credit for their high school course work.
  • With enough credits accumulated through AP, some students are able to graduate a semester or a year early, decreasing college expenses for families.
  • Earning introductory college credit through AP credits may open room in a student’s schedule that would allow the pursuit of elective courses in an area of interest or room for a minor study.

The AP designation offers a benchmark for academic excellence and teacher professional development. For a school to offer the AP designation, the teachers of the course must complete the audit process and be approved by the College Board. Schools must provide adequate resources to AP students and professional development to AP teachers. In addition, the teacher’s content must be approved by the College Board in order to be authorized to use the AP designation.

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Topics: Education, College Guidance, Academics

What Makes a High School Writing Program Successful?

Posted by Brianna Smale on October 25, 2016 at 5:30 PM


Writing is the foundation of much of what students will do in school and in their post-academic lives. As such, it is important to find a school that has a good writing program. A strong writing curriculum allows for flexibility so students can learn in multiple ways and encourages them to stretch and reach. We see the following as the key components of a successful writing program.

Writing Is a Process
For high school students writing essays, the process begins with selecting a topic. They look at what they want to discuss, why it’s important, and how they might approach it. Students should use concept maps for brainstorming so they can see the connections between their ideas as they work to build arguments.

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Topics: Education, College Guidance, Academics

Applying to College: Advice for Students and Families

Posted by Catherine Kaser on November 24, 2015 at 3:00 PM
Casey Zimmer, Director of College Counseling at Sanford School, shares thoughts designed to  create a favorable outcome for college-bound high school students and their families.

Q: Word on the street is that it's harder to get into college now than it used to be. Truth or myth?

A: The most selective schools are receiving more applications than ever, so their acceptance rates continue to decline; however, every college is seeking students. If we look past name-branding, there are plenty of great schools out there! The key to finding schools that will be a great fit is for each student to have the self-awareness to determine what factors and practical considerations, including affordability, matter most. Communicate these things to the school guidance or college counselor, who has the current knowledge and experience to help steer students toward some great options and resources. No matter where students attend college, what matters most for their future success is what they do once they're there.

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Topics: College Guidance

Liberal Arts and STEM are not Mutually Exclusive

Posted by John Ramsey on November 17, 2015 at 3:00 PM

The term “liberal arts" is used a lot but often misunderstood. STEM, an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, is the latest buzz word in education. To hear people talk about these two concepts, they seem at odds with one another. But are they really?

Liberal arts is a shortened version of liberal arts and sciences. It refers to a philosophy of education embraced by many American colleges and universities. A key point here is that the sciences are an important part of a liberal arts education. For example, a biology major in a liberal arts program will devote about one-third of his or her overall college curriculum to biology. The other two-thirds, spread over a wide range of disciplines, offers educational breadth and is the hallmark of a liberal arts education.

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Topics: College Guidance, STEM