As we complete the first week of classes of the Winter Term, many students and faculty are adjusting to new courses, new class rosters and a new 'feel' for each course.
The trimester system on which Proctor's academic year operates provides three distinct terms, as Chuck describes in his most recent Chuck's Corner.
Each term nearly ten percent of students return from off-campus programs and others depart for a term abroad. As my advisee commented when Head of School Mike Henriques welcomed those students returning from off-campus programs during assembly on November 29th, "It's crazy how the community changes so much each term. It's never the same as it was before."
No one knows this feeling of an ever-changing community better than Academic Dean, Doug Houston, whose responsibility it is to ensure academic schedules match course offerings as students have the ability to shift to different courses each term.
Independent term electives, like Leadership and Ethics, Lessons of the Vietnam War, Moderinism, and the Bible as Literature (among many others, you can see the entire grid of course offerings here), as well as off-sequence courses offered in Chemistry, Algebra 2, and PreCalculus provide ample scheduling opportunities for students.
While off-campus programs provide unbelievable learning opportunities, Doug notes, "The challenge for us is to keep each student on track in their core classes for college placement. We want them to have the experiences abroad, but not to have it impact their final transcript in any way."
Much of this responsibility for keeping students on track falls on advisors. Multiple times a year, advisors work with their advisees to develop and update a "Four Year Plan" to map out a student's time at Proctor. By identifying desired terms abroad and backward planning from a student's end goals academically, advisors, parents, and students can be sure credits are earned in a timely fashion.
To help with this process, off-sequence offerings and summer study programs through individual departments allow students to remain 'on track' academically while engaging in abroad programs.
Similarly, from the college application/admission perspective, Proctor has worked incredibly hard to give credence to the academic component of its off-campus programs. By ensuring academic rigor while studying abroad, college counselor Mike Koenig notes, "Proctor’s off-campus programs often makes a student standout. Stepping outside the boundaries of the traditional classroom places students in powerful living and learning environments designed to integrate academic and collaborative learning with the daily hands-on experiences. Students who are willing to take these academic risks experience are well suited to handle the rigors of college life."
This combination of on and off-campus efforts to help students retain competitive academic schedules while still living once in a lifetime experiences during their high school years has created unique academic experiences for students. One that arguably prepares students for life after Proctor more effectively than a strictly classroom based academic experience.
Thanks to Eli for gathering these clips of what students who were off-campus this fall had to say about their adjustment back to life on campus:
A trimester system serves a number of purposes for Proctor with the greatest benefits coming from the flexibility of offerings we are able to provide students.
With three terms of study abroad options, students are always coming and going from campus.
While this provides some logistical challenges academically, Proctor has adapted its course offerings to serve the 30% of the student body that studies in an off-campus program each year.
Off-sequence classes and independent term electives are just two of the ways Proctor adjusts its curriculum.
The hard work of advisors and the Academic Dean's office ensure each that student who leaves campus to study will remain on track academically.
Eli had a great term on Ocean Classroom and has a competitive academic schedule ready for him this winter.
Zoli is in the same boat (no pun intended), having returned from Ocean Classroom and jumped right back into his planned academic courses.
The adaptability of Proctor's curriculum to individual academic journey's serves students exceptionally well as they seek to get the most out of their Proctor experience.