So You Don’t Look Like A Fool


Matthew J. ’19 at the High Mountain Institute

Irene Madrigal, Staff Writer

It’s the day after the end of winter break and you and your friend are in the cafeteria grabbing some lemon poppyseed muffins, when you notice a person you’ve never met before talking to some of your junior friends. You walk up to the group, and discreetly, but not so discreetly, ask her how the holiday was, and it becomes apparent to you through their holiday description that they’re not some middle school teacher you’ve never met, but a student like yourself. You try to act like you haven’t just seen her for the first time–even though you’ve been in the Upper School for over 4 months–and eventually you fall out of the conversation. That’s when you notice the bright white words etched on the front of their green sweatshirt–Chewonki. Chewonki? You have absolutely no idea what Chewonki is–a school, a town, you even think it could be some weird anime reference–so you once again kindly question her as to what the hell it means.

“Chewonki is a semester away school in Maine, where I spent this past fall,” she replies, trying not to laugh at your oh so apparent ignorance.

Now you could have avoided all that if you’d just known what a semester away school was. Don’t worry though. You don’t need to do any outside research–that’s what I’m here for. Semester away schools are, quite simply, a school that high school students attend for one semester! You couldn’t get that from the name?

Okay, yes, I’ll admit, it’s a bit more complicated than that. To make your understanding of semester away schools as easy as possible, as well as giving you all the details on the application process I will clearly list everything you need to know below:

  1. Semester schools are offered solely for juniors, so if you’re not a junior or a second semester sophomore–in which case why are you reading this–then you’ve still got time so don’t panic!
  2. They aren’t anything like regular school–big shocker, right!
  3. All semester schools have a specific area of study that they focus on. These topics cover a wide range from environmental science, politics, oceanography, art and design–this would be the point where you’d think I’d say etc. but there’s only 13 semester away schools, so I’ve really already listed them.
  4. Although there are 13 semester away schools–only 6 have a partnership with our school: The High Mountain School, Maine Coast Semester at Chewonki, Island School, Mountain School, Oxbow School, and the School for Ethics and Global Leadership. Maybe not 13, but definitely still plenty of options.  
  5. I could proceed and list the specifics of all the schools, but then this article would be so long you’d never finish reading it, and then I’d lose so my job, so instead I’ll conveniently add the link to the official Semester Away school here:
  6. Do NOT read about the other semester schools listed–otherwise you’ll get very disappointed.

Now for how you can apply. YES you do have to apply, you don’t just get to go there–hence the emphasis on the website that the schools are for talented people–which I have no doubt you are all because why would you be here then. It’s really quite simple.

  1. During the first semester of sophomore year you’ll meet with representatives from the various school’s and then be asked to have a meeting with Ms. Bediako–check the admission office to find her–and your parents. It’s a super chill meeting, really just to see which schools you’re considering.
  2. After you’ll need to write a letter to Ms. Bediako and Ms. Moore about why you want to go to each semester school. Try not to use cliches like, “going away will be the ultimate experience of a lifetime. I’ll forever be changed by going away.” Just be original!
  3. Your application is approved! Congratulations. Now you must actually apply to the schools. If I learned anything from applying to three schools last year, time management is so important! Don’t leave the application for the week before. I’m not saying that has been my experience but…
  4. Moving on: it is then time for the long wait. The feeling of dread as the release date of the results approaches. You’re panicking, thinking solely of whether you’ll be spending your junior year in the city or the mountains. Honestly, there’s no need to panic. Worst case scenario and you’re rejected from all schools you get to spend an amazing year at BC.
  5. You got in!!!!! Celebrate, tell your friends, brag to everyone that you were one of the few accepted. Don’t brag to people who also applied. You never know if they got in or not, and they might put you on their burn list if you’re not careful.
Matthew J. ’19 at HMI

If you made it to the end you should now be fully prepared with all the semester away school knowledge you’ll ever need. Don’t worry, you can trust me, I will soon be a semester school alumni when I graduate from SEGL this coming May. Now if you see a student you’ve never met before, no need to talk to them, they’re just a junior who’s come back, and they already have tons of friends.