by Maeve O’Brien ’16

Junior Drew Harper is taking an alternate approach to his senior year of high school: he’s attending United World College (UWC) in New Mexico. UWCs are two-year IB diploma schools, located in 15 different places around the world.

The admissions process is both competitive and intense, involving a written application, Skype interview and on-site interview. Usually the UWC committee receives about 600-700 applicants from the U.S., and they only accept 50 students. Each grade has about 125 students total.

The 50 students who are accepted to UWC from the U.S. also receive Davis scholarships, which pay for their tuition, room and board and part of their undergraduate degree at one of ninety universities.

The academic structure of this school is rigorous; students take six courses in a social studies, science, math, art and two languages.

UWCs also have a different social atmosphere, with every student rooming with someone in a different grade from a different country.

Harper is excited to live at UWC and establish friendships with students from around the world.

“I hope to gain a more global understanding of my education and of the world in general,” Harper said. “In UA we have a homogenous community. At a school like [UWC], there’s kids from over 80 countries and they each bring their own view and perspective.”


Last year, Michael Jarrett decided to take a different path to prepare himself for college by graduating early from high school.

Jarrett knew that with his academic standing, he would struggle with getting into a four-year university as an incoming freshman. As a solution, he chose to graduate early and enroll in courses at Columbus State Community College so that he could apply as a transfer student to Ohio State instead of applying as a first-year student.

Throughout this entire school year, Jarrett has been taking full-time courses at Columbus State. This semester, he has also been involved with a part-time internship.

Jarrett’s plan turned out to be successful. He secured another internship for this coming summer, and received admission to Ohio State University, where he will be studying accounting.

Jarrett is very satisfied with his decision to graduate early because of how well it set him up for his future. But, he did have to sacrifice being around friends his senior year.

“I am happy with my decision,” Jarrett said. “However, I wish I would have spent more time with some of my friends that I knew would be moving away after this year.”

In the end, Jarrett benefitted more from graduating early than he would have by staying at UAHS all four years.


Isabelle Durrenberg started playing the violin when she was seven years old, and decided to seriously pursue it as a freshman in high school. Throughout the next three years, Durrenberg drove to the Cleveland Institute of Music (CIM) for private lessons once a week.

The commitment to violin became time-intensive, and Durrenberg ended up taking only five or six classes a day at UAHS during her sophomore and junior years to accommodate the time she needed to spend practicing violin.

Last April, her teachers at CIM unexpectedly asked her if she could try and attend conservatory the following year, which is a college for studying music. Durrenberg then fulfilled three more graduation requirements and completed her capstone by June so that she could graduate early.

She now focuses her studies on becoming a musician, taking classes like music theory and orchestra at CIM, as well as one class per semester at Case Western University.  She also makes time to practice violin for two to five hours a day.

“Violin is a love and a need for me,” Durrenberg said. “It’s a self-expression [and] communication. [This] process has taught me more about myself than I could ever imagine.”

For next year, Durrenberg has a rigorous agenda.

“I intend to continue at CIM and send in applications to some national and international programs and competitions,” Durrenberg said. “Even though some of them are ambitious, it’s good to set goals and have deadlines to work towards.”