The Stanford University Online High School (OHS), formerly EPGY OHS at Stanford University, is a private independent school for gifted students located within Stanford University. While the OHS operates as a six-year school, serving students in grades 7-12, because of the ability of the students, many are younger than the standard grade 7 entry age of 12, and courses are offered at the university-level as well as at the high school level. The current director is Kathlyn Gray, who is resigning at the end of the 2014-15 school year. Jeffrey Scarborough serves as the Director of Curriculum, Tomohiro Hoshi as Director of Instruction, and Summar Aubrey as Director of Student Life and Community.
The OHS used to be part of the wider offerings of EPGY, and was operated as a program within EPGY. With the restructuring of EPGY into Stanford Pre-Collegiate Studies, the OHS became fully separate in its administration from the legacy components of EPGY. The OHS always had a separate and more rigorous application process than the online individual courses offered by EPGY, and the OHS community has the tight-knit identity one would expect of an independent school.
In April 2005, EPGY Executive Director, Raymond Ravaglia, proposed the idea of expanding EPGY's online course offerings into a full-fledged online school. This informal proposal, made to the Malone Family Foundation of Englewood, Colorado, was well received and the Foundation requested a full proposal. Over Summer 2005, Ravaglia fleshed out his ideas into a full-blown design for an online school for gifted students. In January 2006, EPGY received a substantial and generous gift from the Foundation to develop the school. Formally called "The Education Program for Gifted Youth Online High School at Stanford University," it is typically referred to as the EPGY OHS or Stanford EPGY Online High School, often just "OHS." The OHS officially commenced on September 7, 2006, gathering students in grades 10-12. The Online High School accepted thirty students for the inaugural year and projects an enrollment of up to six hundred full-time equivalent students in the years to come. In 2006 the Online High School received official accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). The OHS was approved as an online provider by the University of California in 2008. Ninth grade was added for the 2008-09 academic year, and with the 2009-10 school year, supported by an additional gift from the Malone Family Foundation the EPGY OHS was able to add a middle-school component for students in grades seven and eight. In January, 2015, OHS became the first online school to be accredited by the California Association of Independent Schools (CAIS).
Until the 2014-15 school year, OHS used Saba Centra in order to host its classes, but switched to Adobe Connect for the 2014-15 year.
Although both gifted education and online learning have existed (independently) for quite some time, EPGY OHS is the first to synthesize these two into a diploma-granting, independent high school with both secondary and post-secondary level classes. According to the OHS website, it is a unique idea in the sense that it attracts many kids and offers more classes outside of the normal EPGY range, with a central theme of argumentation and discussion in the writing and humanities courses and enhanced mathematical content in the natural and social science courses. OHS also uses a more college-like schedule, with both seminar and directed study courses and more time devoted to studying outside of the classroom environment. OHS also recognizes and accepts that students will want to continue taking courses at their local high schools, as is indicated on their website, and thus allows for a "joint enrollment" program for such students.
Stanford OHS offers classes in eight major subjects: English, Social Sciences, Laboratory Sciences, Mathematics, Computer Science, Music, Summer Residential Courses, and Core Sequence. Of these eight, the first six disciplines offer both Honor and Advanced Placement classes. The OHS also offers university level classes in English, Social Sciences, Laboratory Sciences, and Mathematics.
The Stanford OHS is founded around the notion that all courses should be seminar courses. In Seminar courses, web-based video conferencing technology is employed so students can listen to prerecorded lectures and engage in discussion seminars with their instructors and peers in a virtual classroom. These classes typically include prerecorded lectures in addition to supplement the group interaction. Such recorded lectures are typically between fifteen and thirty minutes long, although exceptions are common. Seminar classes meet twice a week (either on Monday and Wednesday or Tuesday and Thursday), and such classes are seventy-five minutes long.
The Core Sequence of classes, as stated in the schoolâs profile, is âCentral to the EPGY OHS academic programâ and that the sequence âembodies the tenets of our mission.â The four courses offered in the Core Sequence cover subjects in science, history of science, political theory, and philosophy. The first year studies biology and statistics, the second year studies the history of science, the third year political theory, and the fourth year studies critical reading and philosophy. These classes emphasize the ability to ask conceptual and foundational questions, think critically about the situation, and practice rigorous and logically informed reasoning.
The Core classes from an important part of the OHSâs graduation requirement: all graduating students must have taken at least one core class per year they were enrolled as a full-time student in the high school.
Summer Residential Courses
Every summer in early August, OHS students have an opportunity to live in supervised Stanford dormitories and take Summer Residential Courses with instructors. These two week periods, called Summer at Stanford, provide a brief taste of college life and the Stanford campus and serve as valuable bonding time for the community and its students. Students at the OHSâs Summer Sessions are offered Labs and Seminar classes. The Summer Session Labs complement the labs that students do during the school year, and in some cases are required for the AP lab component of a given class. Six seminar classes on research methods, leadership, and writing styles are also offered at the Summer Sessions, offering students opportunities absent during the regular school year.
The OHS community is vast and close-knit, with over 50 student and teacher run clubs available, ranging from debate to film to multiple student publications, including a student newspaper. Additionally, the school offers a fully functional Student Government, composed class representatives, board chairs, and executive senate members charged with helping grow and foster the community, who function under the Student Body Constitution.
In addition to the many virtual aspects of student life, students often meet with their classmates all around the globe, including a yearly meet-up during MIT's Splash Weekend, where the school's Homecoming takes place, the California State Latin Convention every March, summer language immersion trips, and the school-hosted graduation weekend in June.
Application and Admissions
The application packet as of 2009 has ten short essays and one extended essay; a parent questionnaire to get the Admissions Committee to know the student better; two student work samples; and various other items. Students can apply as full-time students (four or more courses), part-time students (two or three courses), and single-course students, as well as specific-course students. Applicants are evaluated by an Admissions Committee that considers academic records, samples of student work, including application essays, standardized exam scores, letters of recommendation and if feasible, a student interview. Additionally, students should be prepared to provide information regarding examples of online successes and involvement in summer programs, academic competitions, extra-curricular activities, community service hours, and essay responses to biographical inquiries. An explanation in support of an applicant's gifted qualification is also required. The applicant is also given an opportunity to present any additional applicable information to the admissions office.
The tuition at the OHS is $3,875/$3,825 for a single course, $11,390 for part-time enrollment (up to three courses), and $18,350 for full-time enrollment (four courses or more) as of the 2015-16 school year.
The OHS summer program hires undergraduates, recent graduates, and graduate students to work during each summer as counselors and teaching assistants. Residential Counselors (RCs) are selected for their ability to work with young people in a residential setting, and for their academic qualifications. This arrangement allows for the social and academic portions of the program to be tightly integrated.
- OHS website
- Stanford Press Release
- Education Program for Gifted Youth at Stanford University
- San Francisco Chronicle article on OHS
- EPGY Summer Institutes website
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