Browse through some of our more frequently asked questions about The Outdoor Academy experience.

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How will OA affect my academic future?


Will I lose ground at my high school if I choose to spend a semester at The Outdoor Academy?


What if my school is on a Block Schedule?


Who teaches at The Outdoor Academy?


What will classes be like?


What can I do when I am not in class?


What do we do on the weekends?


What if I attend church on the weekends?


Do I need any wilderness experience or technical skills?


What's the community like at OA?


How will I stay in touch with my family?


Where do students live?


Who takes care of our campus and our living quarters?


How can my family afford a semester at The Outdoor Academy?


What supplies do you need to attend The Outdoor Academy?


What is the School Store Account?


How will OA affect my academic future?

After our students spend a semester with us, they are better equipped to set their post-high school goals and to find the college or university that meets their needs. Our graduates have enjoyed enormous success after their experiences here – attending schools such as Princeton, Yale, Duke, Emory and Vanderbilt. As sophomores in high school and beyond, students must make new and challenging decisions regarding their future plans. OA is a chance for students to mature and develop self-understanding as young adults, and to make more informed, personally rewarding decisions.

Check out where other OA Alumni have gone to college

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Will I lose ground at my high school if I choose to spend a semester at The Outdoor Academy?

The core curriculum at The Outdoor Academy is very similar to what you find at many challenging private and public schools across the country. Because our classes are small, teachers are able to tailor course syllabi to meet the curricular needs of each student. All incoming students are assessed for appropriate placement in math and foreign language classes, and we communicate directly with faculty from your home school.

Spending a semester at OA will not interrupt your academic progress. We are committed to working with each sending school and student to ensure a smooth transition back to your school at the end of your OA semester.

Click here to read our Curriculum Guide

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What if my school is on a Block Schedule?

OA is on a semester schedule, so typically all of our courses offer .5 credits upon completion. However, if necessary, we are able to provide full block schedule credit for English, Natural Science, World History, Outdoor Education, and Art. The content covered in those courses is equivalent to a year’s worth of curriculum.

For students on a Block Schedule they will need to choose to take either Math or Language during their semester at OA. Because these courses are so content-specific we must dedicate two class periods during your semester to cover one year’s worth of curriculum. Taking either Math or Language for two class periods in the morning would preclude you from taking both while at OA. If you have questions about this, or deciding which course to take while at OA, please contact our Dean of Academics.

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Who teaches at The Outdoor Academy?

The effectiveness of OA and its high academic standards are a testament to our faculty. Our teachers are some of the most passionate educators you will find anywhere. They are trained to teach the core subjects and are experienced in fields ranging from visual art to chemical engineering.

Our leaders have received degrees from Swarthmore College, Duke University, Vanderbilt University, Warren Wilson College, and other highly respected colleges and universities. They are all dedicated professionals who enjoy the outdoors and love working closely with young adults in a variety of settings where students are actively engaged in discussions and their own learning process.

Check out our Meet the Faculty page to learn more.

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What will classes be like?

On a typical day, students will divide their time between a traditional classroom setting and learning on and around our wooded campus in the natural world. Natural Science classes, for example, are frequently taught by streams and ponds located on OA’s campus. In addition, our classes often take students out of the classroom and into the surrounding communities to learn from the people and places that are a living part of the region’s history.

Read our blog for the latest updates from OA Classes and more.

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What can I do when I am not in class?

Students have time every day to participate in a number of activities aside from classes, allowing them to further develop personal skills or interests or take advantage of OA’s natural resources. Popular options include swimming and paddling on the lake, playing tennis, practicing skills on the climbing wall and playing group games such as Ultimate Frisbee. Our surrounding cities, Brevard and Asheville, provide cultural opportunities for students to enjoy such as art festivals. During free time, students often organize their own music gatherings and performances.

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What do we do on the weekends?

Most of our weekends are spent exploring our 180 acre campus and the surrounding natural forests and rivers of the southeast. We will also spend some weekends on campus preparing for our big weekend trips to world class climbing sites and white water rivers. Some of the places you’ll visit are throughout the semester are: Looking Glass Rock, Cedar Rock, Rumbling Bald, the French Broad River, Nantahala River, Lower Green, and Tuckaseegee River. There is also one family weekend early in the semester when families can take students off campus from Friday afternoon to Sunday afternoon.

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What if I attend church on the weekends?

Eagle’s Nest is not religiously affiliated. However, we do have many students that attend OA with a deeply committed and disciplined faith. Because we are away most weekends on wilderness programming, there are not many Sundays available to attend local services. We do try to create structured time on Sunday mornings that we are on campus for personal reflection and prayer at the student’s discretion. We are also able to accommodate students leaving campus to attend religious services with family if we are not on an Outdoor Programs trip, or have academic obligations. If this is a concern for you, or you would like to talk about it more, please contact our Dean of Students to discuss how we can best support you.

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Do I need any wilderness experience or technical skills?

No! In fact, many of our students have never spent a night in the woods before coming to OA. We have very experienced Residents and Wilderness Leaders on faculty who will teach you everything you need to know about packing for a hike, navigating in the wilderness, setting up camp, rock climbing safely, and maneuvering down white water rapids. There is no expectation that you come to OA with these skills, but you will certainly have them when you leave! It’s also okay if some of these wilderness activities seem scary. We have many students at OA who are able to conquer their fear of heights, sleeping outside, and swimming down rapids. What we are really looking for in an OA applicant is an eagerness to learn, and an excitement for adventure!

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What's the community like at OA?

Our community is filled with incredible experiential educators who love teaching and students who are ready to step out of their comfort zone. Most of our faculty live on campus, so you will see them throughout the day at Community Meals, Work Crew Projects, or just hanging around campus. We also hold weekly Community Meetings where students and faculty discuss how the semester is progressing and together, chart a unique and creative 4 month experience. With only 24 students our community develops very strong bonds with one another. In fact, most of our Alumni remain close friends for the rest of their lives. One of the most rewarding aspects of our community is our Learn, Master, Lead progression. When students arrive on campus they are guided by faculty through all the campus norms, expectations, and community traditions. Gradually, the students begin taking more ownership of these responsibilities and have the chance to exercise genuine peer leadership within the community. By the end of the semester, the Lead phase, our students are taking complete direction of not only the daily tasks and routines, but also the facilitation of community conversations, special activities, and most importantly the 9 day Wilderness Trek in Pisgah National Forest.

Read more about community expectations in our Community Manual

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How will I stay in touch with my family?

Although we do not allow personal cell phones on campus, we do have  a community phone that students use to call family and friends back home. We encourage students to call home at least once a week during their Choice Period, which is a time to take care of personal needs outside of class.  We also strongly encourage students and their families to exercise the lost art of letter writing. Most of our students will say that awaiting a letter and writing home was one of their favorite aspects of the semester, and many students keep those letters for the rest of their lives. You will have either Spring Break or Thanksgiving Break for one week depending on which semester you attend OA. You will also have one Family Weekend in the fall semester, where students can leave campus with their families from Friday afternoon to Sunday afternoon. We typically begin our semester a week later than most schools, and finish a week earlier, so you will also have time, in most cases, to reconnect with your friends and teachers back home before and after your semester.

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Where do students live?

The Outdoor Academy houses students in winterized, wood-heated cabins, all with indoor plumbing and hot showers. Each student has a bed and several book storage shelves. An adult Resident lives in each dorm and is responsible for students during the nighttime and on weekends.

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Who takes care of our campus and our living quarters?

We believe a working community is a sustainable community. OA students and staff are responsible for maintaining the good condition of living quarters and the campus as a whole. Students begin each day with Morning Contributions such as sweeping the cabin or picking up the school laundry, and time is dedicated each week to larger projects, such as splitting firewood.

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How can my family afford a semester at The Outdoor Academy?

We wish to make a semester at The Outdoor Academy feasible for every student accepted. Therefore, we strive to allocate an equivalent of approximately 10% of our total annual tuition income for financial aid, in addition to funds generously provided through endowment. Financial aid applications are reviewed after a student is accepted, and are awarded based on need. Please visit our Expenses and Financial Aid page for application instructions.
In addition to financial aid, we offer no-fee payment plans and are registered with Your Tuition Solution, which offers low-interest loans for private K-12 education.
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What supplies do you need to attend The Outdoor Academy?

We exercise Simple Living at The Outdoor Academy and only ask you to bring what is absolutely necessary for your semester. So, while that does mean leaving a lot behind, it also means you have less to take care of here at OA and more time to focus on what really matters: getting the best possible experience from your academics, community, and wilderness adventures. You can download and print our packing list here on the Student Forms page.

We also ask that you not bring any personal technological devices to OA (iPods, cell phones, laptops, etc).  While this may seem difficult at first, every OA Alumni will tell you it was the best part of their experience. Without the constant interruptions, distractions, and exclusions that come with technology, our students engage with their classes and their community in a rich and intentional way. For many students, it is the first time they have felt true freedom and serenity in their day.

We do have a phone on campus for you to keep in touch with family and friends, and may allow students with individual learning needs to bring a laptop – however, it must be coordinated with our Admissions Director and Dean of Academics before enrollment.

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What is the School Store Account?

The purpose of a student’s school store account is to cover expenses such as books and related materials, art fees, instrument rental, tickets to selected events, a semester t-shirt and semester book. The account will also be used for medical or prescription co-pay amounts or any other amount for medical care that your child’s insurance will not cover. Please note that some local medical care providers will not file insurance, therefore, we will be required to pay cash from your child’s school store account. When that is the case, you will be sent the original paperwork to file with your insurance company.

Please be sure that your child has the personal care items needed when arriving at OA and plan to re-supply his/her needs during Family Weekend and Spring Break. We usually have small travel size containers of shampoo, toothpaste, etc. on hand for emergencies, which can be obtained through the office and charged to your child’s school store account. If other personal care supplies, school supplies, stationery, batteries, or other personal items are needed, we will purchase the requested items locally. There will be a 35% handling fee charged for any special purchase requests made.

The best way to prevent excessive costs from being billed to your child’s school store account is to have him/her come to The Outdoor Academy prepared. When your child arrives, he/she should have all of the items listed on the Packing List including school supplies and cabin/dorm supplies.

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