Upper School: 9th - 12th Grade

Our upper school serves students in 9th through 12th grade and focuses on providing a safe and challenging environment that prepares students emotionally, socially, and academically for life in college and beyond. Our high school students also provide a great deal of support to USL by mentoring our younger students.

Academic Highlights

We believe that keeping young adults constrained on a high school campus, even one with many electives and opportunities to explore their interests and keep them engaged for 35+ hours a week, does them a disservice. This is insufficient preparation for a self-directed and successful path through college and beyond. High school is not preparation for life; it is life.

University School Upper School students aren’t like your typical high school students. Academically, they are comparable to high-achieving students across America. What distinguishes them is their civility and direct experience with life beyond a school.

In contrast to their peers at traditional high schools, USL seniors applying to colleges and universities having experienced 100+ field trips. They have talked to religious leaders at 15 or more houses of worship, met representatives of the 4 major political parties, traveled all over America, heard from a wide range of speakers of all ages and occupations, and had multiple job shadow experiences to learn more about potential career interests. They have visited 10+ college campuses across America and both sat in on classes and completed classes at a college with all of the different ages, religions, and viewpoints that one could expect.

USL seniors have seen and experienced the world and all of its diversity and possibilities in a way that is not possible at a traditional high school. When half of South Carolina students are losing their S.C. Lottery scholarships in their first year of college because of inadequate academic and/or social and emotional preparation, we have forged a better way.

Upper School Trip

Each year, our 9th-12th graders are invited to explore the world beyond our classrooms on a multi-day, overnight trip that brings to life many of the subjects that they have studied in school. Destinations vary from year to year, but we always include a tour of a college campus to introduce students to future academic opportunities.

College Counseling

Our Upper School students benefit from the ongoing guidance of two experienced college counselors. Don Burkard, B.A., M.A., and recently retired from College of Charleston, as well as Roger Smith, B.A., M.A., J.D. help our students navigate the sometimes confusing and stressful college selection and application process.