The Outdoor Academy is a fully-accredited semester boarding school for 10th and 11th graders nestled in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Built upon our four cornerstones of intellect, craft, environment, and community, our dynamic and honors-level curriculum is integrated with wilderness experiences, environmental education, and creative arts.
At OA, your honors-level classes will be small and personalized, your academic teachers will also be wood carvers and whitewater experts, and your 27 new classmates will become lifelong friends.

Quick Stats (2021-22)

Top Rankings

The Outdoor Academy ranks among the top 20% of private schools in North Carolina for:

School Overview

Religious Affiliation
Grades Offered
Grades 10-11
Year Founded
1995
Summer School Offered
Yes
Summer Program Details

Student Body

Total Students
28 students
Student Body Type
Co-ed
% Students of Color
5%
State avg.: 21%
Students by Grade
The Outdoor Academy Student By Grade

Academics and Faculty

Total Classroom Teachers
10 teachers
Student : Teacher Ratio
3:1
National avg.: 13:1
% Faculty w/Advanced Degree
99%
Average Class Size
10 students
List of Courses Offered
Advanced Courses
Environmental Science, Literature & Writing, PreCalculus, Spanish, US Environmental History, World History
Matriculation DataMatric. Data
Classroom Dress Code
Casual
(Comfortable, outdoorsy, prepared)

Tuition and Acceptance Rate

Admission Deadline
Feb. 15 / rolling
Yearly Tuition Cost
Tuition Notes
Tuition is for one semester and includes all relevant charges and fees. Need-based scholarships are a priority, and over 50% of our students receive financial aid. Our gear lending library is also available for student use on wilderness expeditions.
% on Financial Aid
50%
Average Financial Aid Grant
$8,000
Admissions Director
Katie Rowlett
Admissions Associate
Julie Holt

Extracurriculars

Total ExtracurricularsTotal Extra-curric.
11 extracurriculars
ExtracurricularsExtra-curric.
Club or Organization:
Communication & Conflict Resolution, Environmental Awareness, Leadership Development, Yearbook

Arts and Music Programs:
Appalachian Crafts and Skills, Art Classes (ceramics, textiles, stained glass, embroidery), Blacksmithing, Woodworking

Recreational Athletic Programs:
Backpacking, Rock Climbing, Whitewater Paddling

School Notes

At The Outdoor Academy, we expand our classroom beyond the four walls of a traditional high school. Hands-on, experiential academics with real-world applications let our students get their hands dirty and engage in learning that is truly meaningful. 

Imagine a high school semester where your classes are:
  • Inquiry-based. In math, you and your teacher will investigate algebra`s real-world uses instead of just looking for answers to equations. You might develop a statistical analysis of campus energy usage or research the uses of logarithms in meteorology, always asking "Why does this matter?" instead of just "What`s the answer?"
  • Hands-On. In science, you will read a recent journal article on biodiversity, then head out into our 182-acre campus to apply what you`ve learned by studying human impact on our forest`s natural life
  • Personal. In English you will read works from a diverse set of authors, exploring the varied relationships humans have with place. You will simultaneously uncover the roots of your own relationship with place and with home expressing this through the many creative writing pieces that are staple of this course.
Our campus is nestled in one of the most beautiful and biologically-diverse ecosystems in the world, and that environment will become your classroom. The mountains, rivers, and forests of Western North Carolina provide a living laboratory for Environmental Science, a template for studying "sense of place'' in Literature & Writing, a source for materials in Wood Carving, and an opportunity to problem-solve on backpacking treks. 
Profile last updated: 07/29/2021

School Reviews

  5.00 out of 5  (10 reviews)
5  
The Outdoor Academy is an experience like no other. It gives teens a chance to be away from their phones and most importantly finds themselves. The faculty at OA truly care about each student's wellbeing and success, they are there because they want to inspire you to learn. If you or your child is considering applying to OA my advice is there is no harm in applying, you wont regret it.
- Posted by
5  
I highly recommend the Outdoor Academy to anyone considering it. I have never had a more positive and engaging experience with education and community. You will meet some of your closest friends there and make unforgettable memories. I will never forget eating Twinkies on top of a cold mountain looking back into the distance at where we started that morning. Trust me, it's worth it!
- Posted by
5  
We visited Outdoor Academy for an Open House a year before my eldest attended. We shadowed classes, and a teacher asked her students to tell us their thoughts. This one boy looked at the kids in our group and said, "just do it. Come here. You won`t regret it." It is an extraordinary place that we feel so fortunate to have discovered - we'd never heard of semester schools. Tonight, both of my sons and the youngest's friend, who also went to OA, spent hours telling stories and laughing together. It is a very special place with faculty and staff who are at OA because they believe passionately in experiential education. It's not easy to make the decision to go away for a semester, but the bonds that these kids make with each other and the adults at OA are lifelong. They loved being without the pressures of social media and their phones, and even though they are once again addicted, I can ask them to put their phones away and they never get angry - they just do it! At OA, they experienced being in classes where the teachers asked more questions than they talked. They became adept at chopping wood, making fires, hiking and camping, paddling and rock climbing. They carved spoons, made knives, repaired stairs, helped in the kitchen, kept their cabin warm with only firewood, etc. They met kids from around the country and forged friendships the old-fashioned way ... by looking them in the eye and learning how to really, really talk! It's truly an amazing place!
- Posted by
5  
I can't say enough about the O.A. experience for our daughter, due to the fabulous wilderness program and the compassionate and inspirational staff. This is the semester experience that every teenager needs to help them find a positive path to their lives, coupled with the complete exit from social media for 4 months, from peer pressure, from vaping, alcohol, drugs, cliques, and stress. OA was such a valuable personal development boost for our daughter and as a result for our family.
- Posted by
5  
I will never be able to stress enough how much this school meant to me. Sophomore year was a very transitional one for me, and being able to step away from all of the chaos that was my high school was incredibly gratifying. Through attending The Outdoor Academy, I have gained a greater insight into not only how wonderful it feels to be a part of such an intentional community, but also how I want to set up my communities in the future. Whether that be in college or in my life in general, Outdoor Academy has prepared me in the best way possible to blaze my own unique trail.
- Posted by
5  
The Outdoor Academy changed my life. There was a strong sense of community, lovely faculty and staff, a beautiful campus, and places to hike. Sophomore year was a great time to go (although challenging at the beginning), I left feeling much more mature and independent and true to myself. The outdoor education was a wonderful way to connect deeper with peers and faculty, and the classes were meaningful and intentional. I will never forget this place, it will always hold a special place in my heart.
- Posted by
5  
Outdoor Academy will forever be one of the communities in my life that I hold closest to my heart. There are not the words in written language to describe the depth of gratitude I have for this amazing semester school. The teachers at OA were at the heart of the experience for me. The pure intentionality, commitment, and care that each teacher possesses gave me some of the biggest role models in my life. To this day I still reflect on the lesson I learned during my semester at OA and the values I solidified that have helped me live a life I am very happy with. The classes are engaging and help students explore ideas on a deeper level. The outdoor programming was spectacular and gave me the gifts of my most cherished adventures. Outdoor Academy is a beautiful place, a gift, and something I will always cherish. I encourage anyone and everyone to consider the school!
- Posted by
5  
My son attended OA four years ago and now my daughter is attending. I consider sending my children to OA to be the best parenting decision I have made. It is difficult to let your child go away for a semester but the benefits to them far outweigh any cost to you as the parent. I wanted my children to experience a different type of learning, the kind in which they would be fully engaged, would develop a real relationship with their teachers, and learn about their talents in a way that traditional school simply can't give them. I wanted them to learn independence and self-reliance. I wanted them to understand what it means to be part of a community and to become more reflective about their actions. I wanted them to disengage for a significant period of time from social media and be able to find the quiet within themselves so that they could turn to it again and again throughout their lives. I cannot say enough to convey what a quality experience OA is. It has given my children all that I hoped for and more.
- Posted by
5  
You''ve returned to us a much more mature, patient daughter than we sent you. Katie's experience at The Outdoor Academy was such an IMPORTANT influence on her life. I was tempted to say that it changed her dramatically, but what it actually did was call forth interests and abilities that were always there but deeply hidden -- so that she is more fully herself now as a result of her time with all of you.
- Posted by
5  
Going to The Outdoor Academy was the best (and hardest) decision I ever made up to this point in my life. There was truly no words to describe how much my OA experience meant to me. It's just something that you have to experience for yourself. Over those four months, I became the person I truly want to be. I grew into a stronger, more confident, more resilient, and just overall happier person while I was at OA. Leaving my home life behind was somewhat hard, but it was always worth it. I'm not going to pretend those four months at OA were easy, but with the support of my teachers and my fellow classmates, I was able to grow enormously as a person. The OA experience is about taking a chance of leaving your "comfort zone" behind, meeting amazing people (both teachers and students), learning a lot academically, becoming comfortable in the wilderness, and learning more about yourself and who you want to be.
- Posted by

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Quick Stats (2021-22)

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Did You Know?

The average private school tuition in North Carolina is $9,120 for elementary schools and $10,160 for high schools (read more about average private school tuition across the country).
The average acceptance rate in North Carolina is 86% (read more about average acceptance rates across the country).

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