By SUSIE URSTADT ‘20
On January 15th, 2019, a handful of sophomores will send in their applications to three semester schools: Chewonki, City Term, and The Mountain School. This year, a peak number of around fifteen students in the Class of 2020 will have attended a semester program. Right now, there are five students at Chewonki Maine Coast Semester, as opposed to only one student who was there the fall semester of 2017. André Heard, Associate Dean of Students, shares that, although the numbers fluctuate year to year, “with the help of some late applications, [Milton] had a peak year.”
In past years, Heard has found that when the number of semester school and School Year Abroad (SYA) applications increases, the class as a whole must be looking for a change in scenery. Heard says that “all three semester programs are competitive” and that “under normal circumstances, we won't send more than six to any one program.”
Erinma Onyewuchi ’20 shared that as she was applying to semester schools, she decided on City Term because it’s her only opportunity to “live in New York City without paying rent.” Of of the 15 students attending semester schools this year, 10 are boarders, showing that, perhaps, this group is more likely to take the risk of attending a semester school.
Application numbers also vary by gender. Out of the people attending semester schools, only one third of them identifies as male, making the majority of Milton students attending semester programs female boarders. As for why the numbers increased, Sarah Acker-Krzywicki ‘19, who went to Chewonki in the fall of 2017, said that increase could be a result of “increasing stress levels or because people are getting burned out faster” or because “Milton is just encouraging more experiential learning and encouraging people to push their comfort zones.”
Lucheyla Celestino ‘19, a boarder in Millet, thinks that the number of applications increased because as more people attend, younger students have more people to talk to and are therefore more informed about semester schools. For example, when Celestino was a sophomore, there were only one or two juniors who attended semester schools, but when the current juniors were sophomores, there were more semester school alumni to talk to, possibly creating a pattern of growth.
Overall, as semester schools become more well-known, application numbers will inevitably rise due to many reasons, one being that students are experiencing more burnout. However, according to many students, it seems that there is no common reason for the increase in semester school attendance rate other than the rise in awareness.