Culver Academies - Review #16
About the Author:
|Years Attended Boarding School:||1998-2002|
|Sports and Activities:||I played hockey for all 4 years, served as Unit Commander(among other leadership positions), participated in various intramurals, community service organizations, French Club, the Student Admissions Organization (campus tour guides for prospective students), and also acted as a peer tutor.|
|College Enrolled:||Milwaukee School of Engineering|
|Home Town, State:||Chicago, IL|
1.) What do you think makes your school unique relative to other boarding schools?
The school is "separated" into two schools - Culver Military Academy (male) and Culver Girls' Academy (female). For all intents and purposes, however, the schools are one, and the separation is merely for the purpose of distinguishing the leadership styles.Each "school" requires each student to actively participate in student leadership - the boys are put into a military-based system, and the girls are put into a British Boarding School-style prefecture system. Students are responsible for everything from daily inspection / cleaning of the dorms, to acting as a campus receptionist, to serving food in the dining hall, all the way through to enforcing a West Point-based honor code and (essentially) deciding the fate of fellow students and whether or not they may remain on campus.
2.) What was the best thing that happened to you in boarding school?
The best thing to happen to me was to get over the first 6 weeks my freshman year. With the military system, the first 6 to 8 weeks are always the toughest - you aren't allowed to go home, and you have all sorts of extra rules and restrictions that you need to follow. I actually wanted to drop out after two weeks, to be honest. However, it's all set up so that you get the hard part over right away. As a group of new students, you're all forced "in" together, and you're all required to get through the biggest obstacle on campus together at the same time. More than anything, it brought me closer with my friends.Oh yeah - and I also liked the hockey, if I haven't mentioned that already.
3.) What might you have done differently during your boarding school experience?
I would have taken more advantage of the different sports and activities around campus.
4.) What did you like most about your school?
You can't pick just one thing about Culver. Some people say it's the leadership system that prepared them for college. Some people say it's the [fill in a sport here] team that they were on, and some people say that it was the opportunity to be around such a diverse student body day in and day out.If I had to choose, though, I would say that I didn't experience the full-on Culver effect until I reached college. The biggest obstacles most college freshmen need to overcome are homesickness and time management. I had already learned to overcome both of those things by the time I reached college, and so I had a tremendous head start in college.
5.) Do you have any final words of wisdom for visiting or incoming students to your school?
Take advantage of everything that's offered to you. You're not alone on campus - people are ALWAYS there for your help and support. Even though it may not seem like it sometimes, the teachers and student leaders are there because they want you to succeed.Most of all, remember all of the good times you have - we alumni miss it every living day, and I still have dreams I'm back on campus as a student.
1.) Describe the academics at your school - what did you like most about it?
I liked the fact that, in addition to our designated academic counselors, the teachers themselves took special interest in our academic progression from year to year. The small class sizes were a huge plus, as well as the outstanding facilities for the lab sciences (biology, physics, chemistry). Having the opportunity to go through various design projects in physics and chemistry actively prepared me for those courses in college. Also, having the opportunity to take various AP classes was another instrumental factor in my success at the college level.
1.) Describe the athletics at your school - what did you like most about it?
The hockey program is nationally recognized as one of the top programs year in and year out. There is every conceivable sport available from Hockey, to Basketball, Baseball, Football, Tennis, Track / Cross Country, Swimming / Diving, all the way to Rugby, Polo (the kind on horses), and crew.The facilities are second to none - a full-size indoor track, an amazing fitness center / weight room, a separate weight room for the football team, a separate weight room for the hockey teams, two ice rinks (one of which is used as a second indoor track and tennis courts in the offseason), a softball field, a newly renovated baseball field, dedicated soccer fields for the boys' and girls' teams, a newly renovated football stadium, a lake for the crew team,... the list goes on and on. The training staff is superb, with everything from student trainers (for basic taping, ice bags, etc) to (from my last count) three Certified Athletic Trainers on staff for injury prevention, treatment, and strength & conditioning training.Each student is required to participate either in an interscholastic sport, an intramural sport, or some other daily extracurricular activity (such as the speech / debate teams and theater).The athletic department is structured to mimic a Division I college athletic department in terms of the amount of practice and the amount of coaching / support available. It wasn't until my college built a brand-new state-of-the-art $29M athletic facility my junior year that the facilities even started to compare to Culver's. Their facilities still have a long way to go to fully catch up to the lofty standards that Culver set for me at the age of 14.
1.) Describe the arts program at your school - what did you like most about it?
I did not actively participate in any of these programs, although the department does try to reach out for all students to participate, including a dance class specifically catered to athletes. Although I do not know much specifically about the facilities (having never been backstage or anything... though I'd had numerous chances to), from an audience's standpoint, the facilities are fantastic. I've also seen that they are expanding on the backstage area to support more studios, etc, and they have installed brand new seating.
1.) Describe the extracurriculars offered at your school - what did you like most about it?
As someone else pointed out, if you have nothing to do while you're on campus, it's because you've chosen not to do anything. There are all sorts of activities from shopping trips and movie trips (South Bend, Chicago, etc), athletic contests on campus, dances / mixers every weekend,... the list again goes on and on.I myself played hockey for 4 years (which basically consumed my life from October through early March) and was involved in a community service organization (Key Club), the French Club, and acted as a campus tour guide.Again, there were also the leadership structures that the schools practiced. The most unique aspect of this school, if nothing else, is this. More than any other school I've seen, Culver gets its student leaders active in initiating change around campus.Also, as mentioned before, the school has a strict West Point-style honor code ("I will not lie, cheat, or steal, and I will discourage others from such actions"). The students are in complete control of enforcing and maintaining this code. If a student is reported with an honor violation, he or she faces a panel of students and peers, and this panel is the group that decides the verdict (guilty or not guilty) as well as the punishment (from a couple of weeks of restrictions all the way to recommending further hearings with the Deans). This judgment by and for peers is just one of the many examples that the students truly govern themselves.
1.) Describe the dorm life in your school - what did you like most about it?
Each student typically shares a room with one roommate, although there are single rooms (and triple / quad rooms) available in certain dorms. Room selection goes by rank / standing within the dorm (in the military system for the boys, and in the prefectural system for the girls).Transferring dorms is rare, although it is possible if necessary.
1.) Describe the dining arrangements at your school.
The dining staff is constantly seeking feedback with regards to the quality of the food and service. They have actively sought improvements in the nutritional value of the foods served. The facilities are again second to none, and the staff does an excellent job of ensuring that the students are served a plethora of various worldwide cuisines.There are set hours (and dress codes, except on Saturday brunches) for meals in the dining hall. There is also a snack bar downstairs that is open on afternoons and weekends.
1.) Describe the school's town and surrounding area.
There isn't much in the surrounding area, although (since it is a resort town in the summer) there are many great restaurants in town. The lack of activities in the immediate area is partially what drives the overwhelming number of planned activities (dances, off-campus day trips, etc). In fact, I think the school overcompensates, but I never complained about being given more choices.
2.) Describe the social life at your school - what did you like most about it?
The social life at school is great. One of the things that is great about the school is that everyone is required to be in uniform (outside of one day a week) if out after a certain time (I think it's 7:00, but I'm sure I'm wrong now). Since there is such a great socioeconomic diversity on campus, the uniforms allow students of all walks of life to blend in with each other. This prevents most (if not all) of the judging that happens at other high schools with regards to clothes, social status, economic status, etc.To sum up the social life on campus, everyone starts off as equals when they set foot on campus. Sure, there are the "clicks" like at any other school (the jocks, the band kids, the choir kids, etc), but that's an inevitable part of adolescence that is mitigated mostly through the leadership structure and the active roles that the students must take in each other's lives.
|6:30 AM||wake up|
|6:45 AM||morning inspection|
|4:00 PM||athletics / study hall|
|7:30 PM||study hall / athletics|
|10:00 AM||Eat brunch|
|12:00 AM||Go to town for a movie, food, etc.|
|7:00 PM||Go to a dance, an athletic contest, etc... there's really no such thing as a|
Alumni Reviews Review School
- Review Description
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Parents considering schools should read New York Times columnist Frank Bruni's book about college admissions entitled Where You Go Is Not Who You Will Be: An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania. Much of what he says applies in the private K-12 world.