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Adapting to life abroad can be challenging –– even for adults. That said, nobody would blame a high schooler for getting the jitters. Trying new things, gaining independence, and discovering a calling are always worth it, however, especially if the experience ahead sits on 50 idyllic acres of picturesque land in the heart of Barton Hills, Austin, Texas.

Follow the distant sounds of laughter, cheers, and passionate discussions, and you’ll find St. Michael’s Catholic Academy –– a Christ-centred, college-like campus for students of all backgrounds, between the grades of nine to 12.

To ensure smooth transitions and quick progress, St. Michael’s developed a unique offering for international students who need to improve their English proficiency before fully immersing themselves in the school’s signature programmes. In the process, they get accustomed to a classic American academic environment –– from learning to communicate confidently in classrooms to discovering the benefits of extracurricular activities.

St. Michael's Catholic Academy

Source: St. Michael’s Catholic Academy

Students enrolled in the Bridge Programme will audit  second semester classes in the fundamentals: English, history, science, math, and theology. They will also be able to work on their assignments in a designated study hall. The best part? Grades obtained are not reflected on official transcripts used for college applications — this eases the pressure without limiting their exposure to all St. Michael’s has to offer.

Once students have completed the programme, they are assessed on their English language proficiency. If they pass, they are automatically accepted into St. Michael’s next Fall intake.

“The Bridge Programme was a great experience for me,” enthuses graduate Junqi Li from China. “There is a huge difference in teaching between Chinese teachers and American teachers. It gave me six months to adapt and was so helpful to my success.”

A student experience well worth the wait

The St. Michael’s academic experience comprises five enriching days of seven class periods daily –– each varying in length from 45 to 80-minute blocks . To ensure learning is never repetitive, course instruction is offered on multiple levels.

For this “Differentiated Learning” approach, placement is carefully determined based on each student’s aptitude and performance in each discipline. In terms of content, each advanced course is similar to its traditional counterpart, with the same goals and objectives. However, levels of instructions vary by methodology, degree of difficulty, and volume of information.

St. Michael's Catholic Academy

Source: St. Michael’s Catholic Academy

The academy also offers a suite of Honours and AP courses for students ready for even more rigour. These advanced college preparatory curricula explore various principles and concepts in greater depth, requiring a more independent mode of study from its pupils.

Every week, one class period is dedicated to enrichment activities beyond the classroom, enabling students to pick the minds of advisors or teachers; catch up on homework through group sessions; pay a visit to the Writing Centre; or attend talks conducted by guest speakers.

Learning often extends beyond campus –– and borders –– as well as through academic, cultural, service, travel, and language immersion programmes. The St. Michael’s Winter Term Programme includes foreign exchange, international study, working internships, immersive and experiential coursework, and service for the less fortunate within and outside the US.

Meanwhile, the Global Studies programme focuses solely on first-hand multi-cultural exploration, complementing lessons taught in classrooms. Each trip includes language and cultural study, community service, home-stays, and sightseeing. Ultimately, students involved are changing their own lives while bettering those of others. For example, while some have built homes in the Dominican Republic, others have worked at orphanages in India.

Experience the world in Austin, Texas

Clearly, wherever students choose to take their next academic step, a St. Michael’s experience will ensure they gain the confidence to excel. After all, college prep is a four-year journey here, meaning passions are nurtured, and strengths are identified as early as day one. Advisors, faculty, counsellors, and coaches work alongside families to ensure this, while exposure to athletics and fine arts turn students into well-rounded young adults.

If you’re an international student set on experiencing the American dream, the Bridge Programme should be your first step. Slots are limited, so what are you waiting for? Secure your place now by getting in touch.

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