In recent years, several boarding schools have emerged in the private boarding school market that integrate the traditional boarding school vision in an urban environment. Schools, such as, American University Preparatory School (AUP) in Los Angeles and The Whittle School and Studios in Washington, D.C. have invested in campus locations with central or approximate locations in the city. This trend in boarding school education has tremendous opportunities and advantages for U.S. and International high school students. Here are several ways that these schools leverage the traditional boarding school vision in an urban environment.
- Urban Education in a Boarding School Urban education is a term used mostly by researchers and a few private schools to describe how inner-city diversity impacts education. As a private boarding school in an urban location with an international student population, the cultural mix is unprecedented in a private school environment. AUP students have access to inner city resources, organizations, entertainment, cultural venues, and most importantly diverse teachers with a variety of skills and professional experiences. AUP, for example, has committed to offering courses from local professionals in the entertainment, cultural, and technology industries. In other words, our diversity does not stop at our student body.
- Urban Lifestyle Boarding students living in an urban setting are not nestled away in a valley on a large bucolic rural campus. Instead, these teenagers have views of skyscrapers, freeways, urban art pieces, and they feel the pace of a 9-5 lifestyle. At night, instead of imagining far off galaxies in the distant stars, their imaginations soar in the valence of the thousands of lights and vistas of high-rise buildings. Also, within a few city blocks of the AUP campus, our California boarding school students encounter Hollywood film crews, LA Metro subways, motorized scooters, marches on City Hall, Disney Hall concerts, Presidential motorcades, and weekend cultural events in any of the local ethnic districts. These urban students are able to gain confidence and inspiration from their environment.
- Urban Citizenship As high school students, students are at an age where they are forming their identity and their social groups. While the school community is the first priority for most schools, at an urban boarding school, students see their identity developing on a larger stage. At AUP, our students engage the idea of personal citizenship and responsibility to their communities. Whether the community is the school, the city, or one’s nation, these high school students have a unique opportunity to explore a core value of education. As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “The practical side of good citizenship is developed most successfully in school because in miniature one is living in a society, and the conditions and problems of the larger society are more easily reproduced and met and solved.” At our urban boarding school, students have a community spirit that goes beyond the walls of the school community.
- Community Service in an Urban Environment Many of the top boarding schools pride themselves on extensive community service options. Community service exposes students to communities and issues impacting the world and teaches students to be service minded. Here in DTLA, there are no shortages of issues nor civic-minded organizers addressing these issues. AUP does not have a volunteer community service program because service is not optional nor extracurricular, it is a responsibility as a citizen. On a weekly basis, all AUP students participate in our DTLA Community Impact program. This program is a core element for their Seminar and Research project leading to the AP Capstone Diploma.
- Colleges Notice Urban Students Colleges recognize boarding students for their exposure to diverse cultures; for their ability to access resources; and for their academic readiness. AUP’s students apply with applications that describe the trials and tribulations of living in an urban environment, of balancing the demands of an urban lifestyle with their college-preparatory subjects, and of their random encounters with professional mentors in their field of interest. We have already seen evidence that AUP students stand out. See our list of college acceptances for details.