High School FAQs - SLO Classical Academy
Inquire Visit Tour
San Luis Obispo Classical Academy San Luis Obispo Classical Academy

SLO classical academy high school


To live within limits, to want one thing, or a very few things, very much and love them dearly, cling to them, survey them from every angle, become one with them—that is what makes the poet, the artist, the human being.

– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Our university model high school is designed to emulate the atmosphere of a collegiate, intellectual, supportive academic community. Class sizes are small (most no more than 16), allowing for strong student/faculty rapport and seminar-style/discussion-based learning. SLOCA High School students have a high degree of freedom, but are expected to take responsibility for their education, both at school and at home. These values are reflected in and reinforced by our three day-per-week school schedule (MWF). While we are formally in session three days per week, students have a rigorous workload and study hard to succeed. For this reason, we ask students to factor in 1 hour of independent studying for every hour spent in the classroom per week. The average SLOCA high school student spends 15-20 hours per week on homework.

SLOCA High School is not homeschooling. Parents can be as involved or hands-off as necessary, and even in cases where parents are involved in assisting students and helping them stay organized, all student work is evaluated by teachers, who provide the complete curriculum and do all grading and assessments. That said, some students may need some additional parental support in the 9th grade year as they develop good study habits and organizational skills.

Classical education at SLOCAHS encompasses three guiding principles: the Rhetoric Stage of the Trivium, Great Books, and the Socratic Method. While these classical teaching techniques have been proven to prepare students exceptionally well for college and beyond, we are adamant in our belief that learning is a worthy end in itself, eschewing the “race to nowhere” mentality prevalent in many college prep schools. By studying Rhetoric, Great Books, and the Socratic Method, students encounter opportunities for personal as well as intellectual growth—in the form of character development and wisdom— without which the knowledge we acquire lacks context and true purpose. For more info about Classical Education, please visit our Educational Model page.

An education that requires students to think independently, write confidently, and reason effectively is one of the best ways to promote success in any career field. This is especially true these days, when employers don’t want to train new workers but expect them to hit the ground running. Our graduates are strong writers and thinkers with training in reason, logic, and rhetoric. Most of all, our graduates love to learn. This desire to learn and grow, coupled with the skills mentioned above, gives us the confidence to know our students will be able to navigate the great unknown of their adult lives.

SLOCA is an independent, non-sectarian organization unaffiliated with any particular sect or creed. We promote and respect differences in our community and encourage each student to explore and grow within his or her family’s philosophical or religious tradition. As a part of their education at SLOCA, students engage with a variety of philosophies, ideas, beliefs, and texts, and are expected to be able to discuss these diverse movements with sensitivity and respect.

While some say large high schools are beneficial as they expose students to “the real world,” we have actually seen that our environment, while small and nurturing, simulates adult life in meaningful ways. Students are expected to cooperate and be in community with a variety of students across ages and backgrounds. Perhaps most importantly, the environment at SLOCA is one of healthy but high expectations, respect, deep relationships, and professionalism, without the distractions common to large schools such as drugs, violence/fighting, technology distractions, bullying, displays of sexuality, and alcohol.

SLOCA has a 7/1 student to faculty ratio. Small classes have numerous benefits. Teachers develop close mentoring relationships with students, monitor student progress effectively, and provide excellent classroom management. This leads to a more peaceful, engaging, productive environment for students. Teachers can grade effectively, plan really cool lessons geared toward stimulating classroom discussion, and provide detailed, individualized feedback on intellectually stimulating projects and papers. At SLOCA, our curriculum is designed with small classes in mind. 

Absolutely! Our math and science curriculum covers everything a standard math and science curriculum would cover, and more. We have a fully equipped science lab, and experienced, capable faculty with advanced degrees. Our graduates have gone on to major in chemistry, computer science, environmental science, engineering, and pre-med in college. We currently have alumni heading into fields such as nursing, computer science, and geology.

SLOCA students read a lot of great literature. All books are carefully selected for their literary and historic values. Over the four years of high school our reading list includes works by Homer, Aristotle, Plato, Marcus Aurelius, Horace, Virgil, Lao Tzu, Sophocles, Seneca, Shakespeare, Chaucer, Augustine of Hippo, Francis of Assisi, Dante, Machiavelli, Daniel Defoe, Charles Dickens, John Locke, Voltaire, Jane Austen, Herman Melville, Walt Whitman, Henry David Thoreau, Victor Hugo, Mary Shelley, Willa Cather, Leo Tolstoy, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Flannery O’Connor, John Steinbeck, and more! See our Reading List page for more information!

Our elective offerings change each year. Check out our Classes Overview webpage for a selection of electives we have on rotation, and read descriptions in our Course Catalog.  Additionally, we offer a Winter Term at the end of Sem 1 and a Spring Term at the end of Sem 2 which provide an immersion experience into one full-day, short-term elective course. Examples of classes offered include: Textile Art, Digital Animation, Woodworking, Film Studies, Harry Potter Sacred Reading, The World of Tolkien, Oral Rhetoric, Psychology, Food: We Are How We Eat, War and Society, Mesoamerican History & Cultural Experience, Marine Biology, Zoology, History of Baseball, Steinbeck’s California, and SLOCA Survivor.

We have several competitive athletics options for high school students. We are members of CIF (California Interscholastic Federation) and the Coast Valley League. Being part of these organizations opens up possibilities for us to play with many more teams. We offer the following SLOCAHS sports options – co-ed: cross-country, track and field, football, and baseball; for girls: volleyball, basketball, beach volleyball: for boys: basketball, and volleyball.

As of 2016, we are pleased to offer a full suite of A-G Certified Courses. Please reference our Course Catalog for a full list of courses and information on how our graduation requirements and course offerings align with A-G.

AP is an exam system that funds the College Board, an organization that offers college admissions services and examinations. While AP courses have both benefits and drawbacks, we think AP courses are best suited to schools that need to provide a richer, more challenging academic experience for a high-achieving/advanced segment of their populations. At SLOCA, all our classes are both rich and challenging, with many courses taught at the university level. That said, high AP exam scores do allow some students to test out of college courses. For this reason, AP courses are designed with the purpose of preparing students for these exams. In addition to moving along at a clipping pace, AP courses involve regularly drilling for standardized tests, something necessary to prepare students to pass these exams. Given what we are excited about (e.g. promoting an intrinsic love of learning), the AP system — especially teaching to a test — just doesn’t jive with our philosophy.  If you want a college professor’s view on AP tests, check out John Tierny’s article in The Atlantic. It’s eye-opening, to say the least.

Yes. While we will not likely change our philosophy or curriculum to meet the demands of the testing agencies, students interested in testing out of college courses can still take the AP exams without having taken a certified AP course. Exams SLOCA students may do well on (with proper study and preparation) include: Biology, Literature, English Language, and World History.

Many SLOCA Honors courses have been certified by the UC/CSU system, and these courses offer a GPA boost for every course taken by students applying within the CSU and UC system. For example: a SLOCA student with a 3.9 SLOCA GPA who had several Honors courses was granted a 4.3 by Cal Poly due to her Honors course load taken sophomore through senior year. We do not offer GPAs higher than a 4.0 on our transcripts; however, this is an increasingly common practice among many private schools. Universities rarely accept GPAs self-reported by schools. Rather, the colleges recalibrate each applicant’s GPA based on grades, credits, course load, and rigor. 

SLOCA students have been accepted to Arizona State University, Baylor University, BIOLA Torrey Honors Program, Boston University, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Calvin College, University of Dallas, UC Davis, George Fox University, Gonzaga University, Hillsdale College, University of Houston, CSU Long Beach, Montana State University Honors College, University of North Carolina, University of Notre Dame, Point Loma Nazarene, University of Richmond, St. Olaf College, UC San Diego, UC Santa Cruz, Seattle Pacific University, University of Washington, Westmont College, Wheaton College, and many more. For a complete list, see: SLOCAHS College Acceptances 2013-2023.

We have received consistent feedback from our graduates and their faculty that they were adequately and amply prepared for the demands – both personal and academic – of college life. Our graduates have a firm grasp of time management, are self-motivated, are accustomed to seeking help and mentorship, and have ingrained habitual study habits and discipline. 

SLOCA High School, like all of SLO Classical Academy, is accredited by the Western Association of Schools & Colleges (WASC).

Ridiculously fun.

We certainly hope so! We think what we have here is pretty special, and we would love to share what we have to offer with anyone who shares our values (or is willing to try them out!)

ready to apply?

learn about academics at SLOCAHS: