The Outdoor Academy

5.00 5 1 (8 reviews)
Tel: (828)877-4349
  • The Outdoor Academy is an accredited semester school for high school sophomores, and select juniors, who are looking for academic success and personal enrichment.
  • We deliver rigorous academics infused with experiential education and wilderness adventure in the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina.
  • With 24 other classmates, our students learn to build small, close-knit friendships and essential life skills that will launch them back to their sending school ahead of their peers, socially and academically.

School Overview

School TypeSchool with Special Program Emphasis
School Membership(s)School Assoc.National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS)
Association for Experiential Education (AEE)
Southern Association Of Colleges And Schools (SACS)
Grades OfferedGrades 10-11
Year Founded1995

Student Body

Total Students26 students
Student Body TypeCo-ed
% Students of Color
State avg.: 18%

Academics and Faculty

Total Classroom Teachers8 teachers
Student : Teacher Ratio3:1
National avg.: 13:1
% Faculty w/Advanced Degree
List of Courses OfferedLink to List of Courses
Matriculation DataMatric. DataLink to Matriculation Data
Classroom Dress CodeCasual
(Outdoorsy and prepared)

Finances and Admission

Admission DeadlineFeb. 15 / rolling
Yearly Tuition Cost$24,200
% on Financial Aid
Average Financial Aid Grant$8,000
Admissions DirectorJulie Holt
Admissions AssociateReily Kennedy


Total Sports Offered3 sports
SportsClimbing, Rock Climbing, Ultimate FrisbeeClimbingRock Climbing,
Ultimate Frisbee

School Notes

  • If you`re hearing any of the buzzwords about 21st century education these days, they sound a lot like The Outdoor Academy. Character. Collaboration. Communication. Creative and critical thinking. These are exactly what The Outdoor Academy has been doing for over 20 years. 
  • We`ve built a school founded upon Four Cornerstones: Intellect, Environment, Community, and Craft. In everything we do, we develop the character required for life-long success by practicing our Seven Principles: Simple Living, Work Ethic, Curiosity, Integrity, Stewardship, Self-reliance, and Gratitude.
  • Our intellectual experience goes beyond just academics to cultivate a life of the mind. OA students come to know their own thoughts and ideas, to take responsibility for their education, and to ask good questions. The question we ask most often is "What do you think "Our environmental education curriculum empowers students to find their place in the world, create practical sustainable solutions, and effect positive change. Our wilderness trips develop technical skills, leadership and teamwork, and a true sense of the unique biome of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The thriving Garden to Table program allows students to help produce our seasonal fruits and vegetables and gain valuable knowledge of gardening, cooking, and food preservation.By intentionally building the connections and personal responsibility necessary to create a close-knit community, OA teaches students to live well together and be their best selves. This is, of course, the heart of what we do and where our principles are really put into practice. Sharing work, meals, and life together requires all of us to do our part, to keep our word, and always to give thanks. An emphasis on craft means not just creating art and doing work with our hands but also expecting quality in everything we do. An afternoon spent hammering at the forge, throwing pots at the ceramics studio, or playing bluegrass on the Cheoah steps creates an awareness of beauty in our lives and develops a sense of appreciation of the process of creation. By emphasizing the craft of hands and minds, OA students learn to take true ownership for their work, their education, and their lives.These cornerstones and principles truly work because of the unique challenges set before them throughout the semester. That`s where we build persistence, resilience, grit. That`s the mountain we climb, the stack of wood we split, the essay where a thought is expressed just right. It`s the place where the student joins the school and is launched into a greater sense of self and place. This is the work we do and have been doing for a long time. So, spread the word: we`re so traditional that we`re cutting edge.

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School Reviews

  5.00 out of 5  (8 reviews)
5  4/7/2017
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  5/17/2016
Writing about OA is never been easy for me. It's like trying to describe your favorite song; no matter how long you spend talking about it, you can never seem to do it justice. The truth is, going to The Outdoor Academy is one of the best decisions I''ve ever made. Well that's what most people say, at least, but it's the truth. Over those four months, I grew into myself. By the end of the semester I had more maturity, more confidence, more independence, and, of course, much more happiness. Leaving your home, or your "comfort zone", takes guts, and that's the first sign saying you''re ready for the OA experience. Leave home for a little while, learn a lot about the natural world as well as your studies, and have a good time. That's what's it's about. It's the OA experience, and the one that has changed my life.
- Posted by
5  5/17/2016
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  2/24/2016
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
5  7/24/2015
OA was the best decision that I have ever made in my life. Before OA, my life was very average and I felt like I did not have a purpose. But since coming home, I have realized my passion for creating a cleaner, healthier, and more sustainable world for my generation and the ones to come. I would recommend OA to every single person I know, everyone should be required to do it! My life was truly started when I left OA and I became empowered to help change the world for the better.
- Posted by
5  8/2/2013
Because of The OA, these young people can now go forward, more richly able to understand the importance of the respect for self and for others and the deep responsibility between the two... They each have new awareness of their own value and the wealth of true friendships. [They can] make decisions which will be true to the person they sincerely want to be... All of the experiences of The OA and your enduring attention have and will continue to help each of your students to develop a "life song," one which will honor the goodness around them always.
- Posted by
5  8/2/2013
We consider The Outdoor Academy to be an educational work of art. Our initial expectation was that OA would be an especially valuable experience outside of academics. Somewhat to our surprise, Zach gained as much academically as nonacademically.
- Posted by
5  8/2/2013
Such a profound experience! The living of great values, the examination and embracing of personal integrity, the special blessings of community living . . . OA provided Nina with strong academic experiences but also those pivotal personal experiences, the high moments, the grand adventures that focus and inspire and enlighten a lifetime.
- Posted by

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Did You Know?
The average private school tuition in North Carolina is $7,664 for elementary schools and $9,369 for high schools (read more about average private school tuition across the country).
The average acceptance rate in North Carolina is 87% (read more about average acceptance rates across the country).