ATI is primarily a high school community.* That said, because ATI is an integrated, mixed-age environment, we are open to accepting exceptionally mature 8th-grade students or 13th-year students seeking a structured, supportive community within which to achieve their goals. There are no strict age cut-offs.
*The St. Louis campus accepts students entering grades 7 through 12.
Are there any entrance exam requirements?
There are no entrance exam requirements.
What are the entrance requirements?
The most important criterion for admissions is suitability for the environment. We are seeking students who, when given greater autonomy and support, are interested in and capable of doing much more than they could in a standard educational environment. See more on our Apply page.
Does ATI accept students mid-year?
When space is available, we are happy to consider applicants mid-year. Because our program is tailored to the individual student, mid-year transfers for students that are a good fit for ATI can work very well.
How does ATI prepare students for the real world?
The world of work in the 21st century rewards world-class talent in people that can successfully collaborate with others, take initiative, solve problems, and add value to an organization. ATI is more fundamentally focused on each of these elements—nurturing excellence in one's chosen domain(s), deep collaborative skills, fundamental problem-solving skills, and “value added” orientation—than perhaps any other school.
How is ATI different from other schools?
Students may customize their paths and work toward their personal goals to a considerably greater extent than is typical in either traditional or non-traditional schools, both within core courses and outside of core courses.
Each student has a personal mentor entirely focused on helping them achieve personal and professional goals, including health, balance, and excellence in their chosen domain.
Students are treated, and are expected to treat others, as mature, responsible, considerate, and caring adults. The peer culture at ATI is exceptionally supportive and positive.
As a community, we support the creation of entrepreneurial value for ourselves and others.
As a community, we are deeply committed to the thoughtful consideration of diverse ideas.
As a community, we are deeply committed to the notion that each of us is responsible for taking initiative for the life we want to lead right now.
Is ATI a college prep school?
For college admissions and life, the most effective strategy is deep commitment and passion, not jumping through hoops. At ATI, superb college prep is achieved while a student focuses on the goals that matter most to him or her. For those who are focused on college, ATI offers a highly successful college prep strategy based on the model outlined in Cal Newport’s best-selling book How to Be a High School Superstar. The fundamental strategy is to achieve great SAT scores through daily deep, relevant, intellectual engagement (our Socratic Humanities and Mathematical Problem-Solving classes); achieve a few great AP scores to demonstrate ability; and engage in exceptional, personally meaningful projects—these impress admissions committees more than would a laundry list of “extracurricular activities.” Core classes are designed to be relevant and explicitly applied within each student's chosen domain, while personal projects build a student's confidence and expertise in their field.
What is a typical day like?
The core school day at most ATI campuses runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Thursday, with optional sessions from 9–10 a.m. and 4–5 p.m. on each of those days.* The 10 a.m. start is aligned with research from the American Academy of Pediatrics demonstrating the value of a later start to the day for adolescent physical and mental health; the later start also accommodates a longer commute to support those students coming from farther away. Fridays are dedicated to internships, apprenticeships, projects, and independent work. Many students choose to stay at school each day from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. For more, including sample schedules, check out our Student Life page.
*Times can vary by location.
Is there busing?
No, we do not offer busing, but we do support families in coordinating carpooling, as many of our students will have a longer commute.
How do you evaluate students?
Students at ATI are evaluated on their progress relative to course and personal goals. Quarterly, families receive detailed narrative reports from each class describing how the student is doing relative to their goals, what strengths they can continue to leverage, what challenges they face, and providing support for next steps to success. Our evaluations are focused on individual student growth rather than comparison to other students, provide more information than standard grades, and instill a growth mindset over a fixed mindset.
What is a typical class size at ATI?
ATI classes include mixed-aged groupings of students, in order to tailor each class to the needs and abilities of our students and to promote mentorship and a supportive peer environment. Many classes have fewer than 10 students, and some may have 10–15 students. Occasionally, in order to group students based on their needs and interests, classes may be slightly larger than 15 students.
Are the ATI campuses interconnected?
The ATI campuses are a network of micro high schools. Each ATI campus has its own faculty, leadership team, campus, and community. We believe strongly that individualized education is most successful in small school environments where students are truly known. However, our students also benefit from connections to our larger network. Students at any ATI campus have the opportunity to join online courses with faculty members and students across our network, can connect with a professional mentor on another campus, or work with a peer who shares their focus or interest.
Who are your faculty?
Our faculty are leaders in their chosen fields, but in addition to expertise in an academic domain, our faculty offer real-world experience, having launched companies, led nonprofits, and demonstrated their leadership and achievements across industries and geographies.
What role does the student's mentor play in the life of the family?
High school represents a time of natural individuation for teens as they begin to take on more responsibility for their lives and make decisions with lasting impact. At ATI, teens are supported in strong decision making by their mentor, a member of the faculty who meets with them each week to check on how they are doing across academic, personal, and professional domains. Both parents and students are in close communication with the student’s mentor, allowing parents to know that their teen is being supported and cared for. This provides the student with an adult mentor who can help them to grow and to communicate effectively as they go through the necessary process of individuating and asking for increased autonomy.
What is the social experience of the ATI community?
Our community is exceptionally warm and welcoming, and because we are a small school, students truly get to know each other and develop strong lasting friendships with each other and with their guides. Students participate in a rich social environment and enjoy activities from dances to game nights, camping trips, and a prom, as well as participation in leadership opportunities and student clubs.
Is ATI accredited?
ATI is in the process of becoming accredited. With respect to college admissions, ATI focuses on superb SAT performance, AP performance, and great projects as the primary basis for competitive college admissions. ATI’s founder, Michael Strong, previously created a high school that deliberately did not seek accreditation in order to maintain program flexibility. Nonetheless, our college admissions strategy led to graduates being accepted to some of the best universities in the world, including Bard, Bennington, Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and Parsons School of Design. At ATI, we are designing our accreditation application strategically to ensure that it does not reduce our ability to personalize your teen’s educational experience.
Is ATI a for-profit school?
Yes. ATI's founder, Michael Strong is a leading proponent of Conscious Capitalism and Social Entrepreneurship and co-authored Be the Solution: How Entrepreneurs and Conscious Capitalists Can Solve All the World’s Problems, along with John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods. Michael has designed and implemented innovative high school models in both for-profit and not-for-profit realms. San Francisco’s ATI is the first in a planned national and international network of for-profit high schools to be founded on the ATI model.
How does the ATI model compare with Montessori?
ATI and Montessori schools are both based, fundamentally, on the idea that students benefit from developing and acting on their own internal motivation, in an environment that meets their developmental needs and supports them in pursuing their interests. While individual Montessori schools achieve their potential in varying degrees, ATI is fundamentally aligned with and supportive of the Montessori philosophy. Because ATI is a high school model highly focused on personal achievement, we believe that ATI is the perfect school for children who have attended Montessori schools and are ready to transition into the adult world.
How much is tuition?
ATI provides each family with a tuition rate sheet in order to allow families to plan their budgets for the duration of their student’s time with us. The tuition rate sheet that is active at the time you finalize enrollment with your tuition deposit guarantees your student’s tuition for the initial enrollment year and the following four years. Ask our admissions team for the current tuition rate sheet.
Does ATI provide financial aid?
ATI offers significant financial aid based on need, and will work with families to help them afford attending ATI. The financial aid application is designed to be fast, simple, and confidential and is facilitated through a third-party vendor. You can learn more about our application process and apply for financial aid here.
When is tuition due? Can we pay the tuition in installments?
Your tuition deposit is due upon acceptance to the program and reserves your student's placement. Tuition payments are due in 10 installments on the 1st of each month, August through May. Please see your tuition rate sheet for details.
Do I need to pay a tuition deposit every year?
No. The tuition deposit is paid once, upon initial enrollment, and is rolled over to the following year until a student graduates or leaves the school. The deposit then covers the student’s final month of tuition and any outstanding fees, and any remainder is returned to the family.
Are there any other material costs that I will need to factor in?
Students should have their own laptops, which are a fundamental personal work tool. As a baseline, Google Chromebook or equivalent is suitable. All required coursework may be accessed via the web. Students should expect to bring lunch or funds to purchase lunch off-campus. Occasionally, there may be optional off-campus trips, such as camping, that may involve modest fees. There may also be opportunities for overseas travel during summer breaks for an additional fee. Finally, students enrolled in makerspace courses may wish to employ certain materials that require additional material fees. For example, a student may design an object in a costly material that they wish to use in three-dimensional printing.
Is there any benefit to paying all of the tuition up front?
Yes. We offer no-risk single- or multi-year prepayment options for families who wish to take advantage of associated tuition reductions. Please ask our admissions team for details.