The Outdoor Academy is not just a semester school.

It is a community of engaged learners eager to discuss environmental philosophy or a moving passage from Braiding Sweetgrass. It is a 180-acre learning lab in one of the most bio-diverse regions in the country.

It is a classroom of students who have chosen adventure over routine and challenge over comfort. It is a team of faculty dedicated to helping you learn and grow into your best self.

It is a family of life-long friends and traditions much larger than any of us alone.

The Outdoor Academy is not just a semester school. It may just be the best semester of your life.

July update: We are currently accepting new applications for Fall 2021 and Spring 2022 on a rolling basis. Begin your application today, or request more information to discover how you can make a semester at OA a reality!

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Expand your Classroom...

The Outdoor Academy admits highly-motivated sophomores and juniors from all private, public, charter, and homeschool networks. We seek enthusiastic learners looking to step out of their comfort zone and embrace their independence. Students admitted to The Outdoor Academy have demonstrated a commitment to high academic standards, responsibility, and are interested in learning new ways to live and work with others in a close-knit community. Students at OA will be living in rustic settings and exploring wilderness environments. However, no previous wilderness or outdoor experience is required!

Virtual Open House and Information Sessions: attend one of our virtual info sessions to learn more about our program and have all your questions answered by our admissions staff and faculty members. Register below to attend, or contact our admission staff directly to coordinate a time that works for you. 

Important Dates and Deadlines

Fall 2021 and Spring 2022 applications are currently available on SchoolDoc. Students generally apply for the following school year semesters during their 9th or 10th grade years.

  • Currently, we are in our rolling admissions period and applications remain open. When the semester fills, we will continue to accept new applications, and those accepted will be placed on a waiting list. We welcome new inquiries throughout the year!
  • Our initial priority application deadline for the Fall 2021 and Spring 2022 semesters was February 15, 2021. Students who submitted an application by this deadline received admissions decisions in mid-March.

*Update May 2021: financial aid remains available in the current rolling admissions season. Please be in touch to talk more about scholarships and to make a semester at OA a reality for you next year. 

Apply Online

Our application can be completed entirely online using the SchoolDoc portal. After registering and completing the initial application form, you will be instructed on how to submit the remaining application pieces (see details below).

Submit our online Application today!


Completed Applications will include the following information:

      1. Application Form
      2. Completed Short Essay Questions
      3. Creative Presentation. Submit a collage, an original work of poetry, visual art, or a video. Anything that will give us a glimpse into the non-academic side of you – your inspirations, hobbies, talents, skills, and interests.
      4. School Transcripts from the past two years of school and a copy of a recent Writing Assignment from an English or History class.
      5. Two Teacher Recommendations. Send the teachers a link to this online form.
      6. Parent/Guardian Questions

Once your application is complete, the Admissions Director will be in touch with you to schedule a short interview.

If you have any questions, please call the Admissions Office at 828-877-4349 (828-808-3501 for texting) or email us at


Virtual Admissions Events

Attend a Virtual Info Session for a short overview presentation followed by Q&A with the OA Admissions team and select members of the community. Our Spring Open Houses will include a more in-depth look at our program’s four cornerstones from faculty and alumni, and we highly encourage all prospective Fall 2021 or Spring 2022 applicants to attend at least one of these sessions. This is a place to learn how a semester school works, discover why the Outdoor Academy may be the perfect school for you, and get all of your burning admissions questions answered! Click on the date to register and receive the link to the Zoom session. If you miss a session, we are also happy to provide a recording. 

Upcoming Monthly Info Sessions:

Our Spring 2021 Virtual Open Houses have already happened, but we will update this page again late summer once our Fall programs are scheduled. Stay tuned to our Instagram and Facebook pages for updates on all virtual admissions events and other OA happenings.

We host alumni events, presentations, and local gatherings all over the country. As we are following government recommendations on social distancing and limiting travel, we are currently only conducting virtual events and presentations. Please schedule a video chat or phone call, or email the Admissions Office if you would like to meet with us on your schedule. We are happy to call, Zoom, Google Meet, or email with you any time!

If you would like to organize an event in your area or a presentation at your school, let us know! Our Admissions team will help you host, organize, advertise, and prepare. We’re also happy to send you promotional posters and brochures from OA to put up in your town. Just send us an email, and we’ll get back to you right away.

Visiting Campus

***  Until further notice, our campus is currently closed to visitations in order to protect OA’s current semester students and staff from Covid-19 exposure. We are happy to walk you through a virtual tour with recorded classes, a dorm tour, and footage from around property so that you can tour our amazing campus from wherever you call home. 

In addition to two Open Houses every semester, we welcome families to visit campus anytime that works best for them. Currently, this can include a virtual tour or even calls with alumni and current/past parents from your area. This is truly the best way to get a “feel” for OA , so contact our Admissions Office to coordinate a time to visit or meet with us from wherever you call home!


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