Success Academy High School of the Liberal Arts: Frequently Asked Questions
Success Academy – April 24, 2020
At Success Academy, the high school experience is intellectually demanding and deeply engaging. Scholars tackle sophisticated, collegiate-style academics, discover and develop their talents, and forge special bonds with peers and faculty as they grow into informed, thoughtful citizens. But many of our middle schoolers are wondering: What is life as an SA high schooler really like? We compiled some of the most frequently asked questions from middle schoolers across the network to help shine some light on the SA high school experience.
College Access & Persistence
Beyond the Curriculum
Is SA HSLA just like SA middle school, only with more work?
While some aspects of SA HSLA will be familiar to incoming freshmen — the high expectations, the respect shown to both teachers and scholars, the obsession with books and reading — this will be a whole new educational experience. We emphasize independence and push scholars to invest in their own interests and passions. The courses are very rigorous, preparing scholars for college work but also prioritizing engagement and scholar interest. Scholars come to SA HSLA from across the entire SA network, so there are a lot of new faces and new friends!
Does everyone at SA HSLA do STEM? Is the school mostly focused on the arts?
The high school offers a “liberal arts” education, which means we focus on honing intellectual prowess across four key subject areas: the natural sciences, social sciences, arts, and humanities. There is an emphasis on scholar choice within core subject areas, so scholars can pursue the topics and tests that best set them up for college degrees in their area of interest.
It is important to understand that SA HSLA is a college preparatory high school, much like elite private high schools and specialized high schools. On average, students can expect 18 hours per week on homework: about 2 hours per weeknight and 4 hours per weekend day.
Currently, our classes are 55 minutes long, but there will be exciting changes to our schedule next year. Be on the lookout for a future HSLA webinar where we will review this and many other exciting improvements. There are no regular half days.
English classes tend to be smaller in size, but most other classes average 32 students. Teachers offer office hours that are optional for students, but highly encouraged as a habit that the most successful college students exhibit.
Are there free periods?
Underclassmen do not have “free” periods, but will dismiss earlier than upperclassmen, usually. Upperclassmen will have independent work-time when they are not enrolled in SAT Prep classes.
SA HSLA is a true liberal arts high school. Our focus is on offering a rigorous and robust academic core curriculum. If you are interested in pursuing a career in law, business, entrepreneurship, nursing or any other field, it is important to use your dean or advisor as a resource. Taking a course does not prepare someone to become an expert in any given field. Identifying and honing the habits required to be successful in that field is far more effective. Lawyers must be strong writers. Business leaders have mathematical prowess. Entrepreneurs use every opportunity to create something new. And so on. It is also a good practice to consider how you can translate your passion into a leadership opportunity, as many of our scholars who are founding leaders of clubs have done.
College Access & Persistence
Emphatically, yes! From our low student-to-advisor ratio (12:1) to our extensive academic and extracurricular programs, our entire high school design is centered on preparing our students to persist in a rigorous college environment. We provide crucial SAT prep — our current seniors earned an average SAT score that was 200 points above the national average! So far, every graduating senior from SA HSLA has been accepted to college.
The key to unlocking college access is our unparalleled level of individualized college counseling through our College Access & Persistence team. Your college counselor will guide you and your family through the college application process to match you to the college or university where you can maximize your graduation outcome and find your financial fit. College counseling formally begins in 11th grade, but our doors are open to all HSLA students, and many ambitious underclassmen proactively schedule meetings with the College team.
We prioritize supporting scholars through the complex financial aid process. We strategically match scholars to colleges that will be a financial fit for their families, and coach our scholars to advocate for themselves with Financial Aid offices. By request, the College team will also support scholars through external scholarship applications to ensure that they submit strong applications.
Scholars can earn college credit while at HSLA. We offer over 10 Advanced Placement courses, which are certified by the College Board’s internationally recognized college-level curriculum. Most colleges and universities give college credit for introductory courses based on passing AP scores. Students enrolled in AP courses at SA-HSLA are required to take the external AP exam at the end of the year, and students often earn college credit for their passing scores on AP exams.
Beyond the Curriculum
Currently, we offer: Visual arts, photography, filmmaking, chess, band, choir, theater, theater technology, conservatory and commercial dance, basketball, track and yoga. We are hoping to formally add debate to our roster, but some of our scholars have already attended prestigious tournaments with exciting results!
Underclassmen will take 3 electives (including academic electives like art history, computer science or engineering). Upperclassmen will take 2 electives, with an option to take a third. Much like college, students may spend the first few weeks of the year adjusting their schedule. If you would like to switch your schedule, you should consult with your advisor.
Typically, forming a student-led club will require a brief description of the club, a petition with 10 student signatures, and identifying a staff advisor.
Do you have any clubs or classes that could fulfill community service?
Any student can choose to start a club. Currently, our Humanitarian Club is one of the most active in the school. They typically meet twice a month on the weekend to volunteer throughout the city.
All scholars who are in good standing and who meet the minimum GPA requirement — 80 percent — are encouraged to apply to SA Summer Experience. All admitted participants will have their application fees, program tuition, and room and board fully paid for by Success Academy! Scholars have the chance to attend collegiate, artistic, and outdoor leadership opportunities both locally and across the country. We are very proud of our Summer Experience opportunities and have spent years curating our expansive list. At this point, we do not intend on subsidizing programs outside of this list and encourage students to thoroughly review the options we’ve identified.
Every year we add more and more trips! This year we’ve visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Brooklyn’s Waste Management Treatment Center for our Environmental Engineering course, the NY Federal Reserve, Chicago on Broadway and others. We also have monthly advisory competitions where the winning advisory groups can choose their team’s outing. Some have gone to family dinners, ice skating, the movies and more! We even sent a lucky group of sophomores to Chatsworth in England, where they met the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire!
How many SA high schools are there? What are the plans for future expansion and would students have a choice of which SA high school they attend?
Currently there is one SA high school, with plans to open additional schools in the future. When that time comes, we will try to honor specific high school location preferences, as we do for middle school, but these decisions are contingent upon available seats in each school.
What materials do I need to purchase for the first day of school?
All students start the year with a high school starter kit that includes notebooks, pens and pencils and other necessary materials. High school uniforms will need to be purchased to begin the school year.
What does the consequence policy look like?
The consequence policies adjust as students matriculate from underclassmen (freshmen and sophomores) to upperclassmen (juniors and seniors). Underclassmen follow a similar Kickboard merits/demerits system found in our middle schools that lead to detention. Upperclassmen do not earn merits/demerits, but may earn detention for egregious behaviors. The suspension policy is similar to ones found in our middle schools. Scholars are required to abide by the SA Honor Code, which means they are honorable and honest, on and off school campus. Scholars who observe violations of our Honor Code are expected to come forward. Those who witness violations but do not come forward are also subject to disciplinary action.