My feelings about SMCA are mixed, I enjoyed my high school experience, but at the same time I despised most of my peers and their values. I'll be the first to respect other viewpoints (and one of the few at SMCA), but the majority of the student body doesn't care about academics and even fewer still knowledge itself. I've had many teachers who were beyond excellent, but there are those who should not be teaching. The social studies department has two teachers who aren't coaches. The math department is excellent for children at Pre-AP and AP levels, but the basic kids get the short end of the stick. The English department is one of the few departments that is superb all around. Most of the students have shallow, saccharine personalities and care more about how they look than anything else. I love the college counsellor and she is one of the best and does all she can, even if only half a dozen students each year care to attend nationally acclaimed colleges. Even though they own lake homes and bought their kid an Audi, the parents are cheap on their kids' education. Education is not valued by these kids and their families as much as money.
I have two children that attended SMCA this year. One graduated this year, one will graduate next year, but NOT from here. I am sure it will take countless extra hours to get back where we need to be for college level courses. Teachers are very kind, but also very discouraged because there is NO discipline system whatsoever. These kids do and say as they please. They use their phones all day long during every period. It is very hard to teach ,even if you may be qualified, when no one is paying attention or one is constantly trying to reprimand to no avail. Same with the dress code issue, seriously, either have one a strcit one you are going to follow (EVERYONE will follow) or can it. Nobody seems to have any authority to make anything happen. Very frustrated! Do not be fooled by their awesome sale staff. I will tell you they do their job very well! All the clubs etc they tell you exsist do not. Help center is marginal at best. And to think this is something we paid for...twice!!
the school was great, until they decided to enforce this new "uniform". instead of giving the students the customary plaid skirt and polo, the school decided to make the students buy their own khaki pants and button downs. the majority of the school would prefer the standard uniform because now we have to go and try to find appropriate uniform requirements. it wouldnt seem like it would be a big deal, but it is almost impossible for the students to try and find appropriate dress. when making dress code decisions, the administration should have taken a poll or something because letters were sent from the sophmore class regarding this issue, and they ignored them completely. even after numerous complaints from parents, the school would not even consider changing to a real uniform.
I think it is true to say that your experience in anything is directly related to the effort you put into it. We have 2 kids at SMCA. Our experience has been nothing short of wonderful. We are very active in the activities of the school and attend events (sports and the arts) whenever we are able. we volunteer often. Like any environment there is diversity at all levels. Clearly an academically focused environment, it has made our kids much better students. That's why we are there. The family environment is hardly pretentious. That's what makes it very special for us. Yes, extracurricular activities are important at the school which reflects their importance to our/your child. It is a great source of our SMCA family interaction. I like to describe the environment by saying "there is no place for the students to hide". Hopefully it will challenge your kid to be a better student and person too.
I must say that I was shocked to read a few of the posts regarding SMCA as we have had the complete opposite experience. I have two children currently attending and one who will attend next year. The teachers have been very accommodating to my child who has ADD and have offered to meet with him before school, during lunch, after school or whenever he needs it.The academics are rigorous and they will be more than prepared for college. Athletics is an important part of SMCA however academics is number one.
St. Michael's is a great school. We would not hesitate for an instant to send our kids there again. We have had children at Westlake as well, SMCA was a better choice. Just as with anything in life, you get what you put into it. If you want good grades, you will have to work hard. If you want to excel in extra-curricular activities , you will be similarly challenged. If you choose not to get involved in the many organizations and activities offered at SMCA, blame no one but yourself. The school does require discipline, and if your child, or even you as a parent, don't believe in following rules and recognizing that there are consequences to actions, perhaps a public school may be best for you. The education, study habits, and friendships our children have gained and made while attending St. Michael's has made their transition to college much easier and their college grades are a true reflection and validation of the value of the education you get at St. Michael's. Teachers and administrators have shown considerable care and concern and the families which we have met have become true friends, and have been there for support when we have needed them.
My family has had an amazing experience at St. Michael's. We have one graduate, a senior, and a junior.--eleven total years of wonderful experiences. The faculty and staff love their students and therefore become like family. It is always a treat to see these happy kids released from class at the end of their day, scurrying to so many after school sports and activities. We have loved every day at SMCA!!
The name SMCA is less of associated with academic success and more with social status. If you do not live in the Westlake area, do not have an iPhone and do not have your own car, you will not be accepted by the majority of students. The school has a very elitist student body and even most of the teachers as well. This elitist nature really does effect the experience. If you are not one of the rich families at SMCA, do not expect most of the teachers to care about your success. If you do not play any sports at all, be prepared to have a horrible high school experience here anyway. Athletics at SMCA is the most funded extracurricular, while other extracurricular programs (such as band and tech) are left with very little. This school is obsessed with it's reputation and administrative decisions are made for the better of the school, not the student.
While the academics are excellent for the most part, my daughter's peers are extremely mean to her. She's only staying at St. Michael's for the good education, most definitely not for the rude and cruel people that treat her unkindly. We can't wait to leave. SMCA is extremely clique-oriented, and many people who attend SMCA have admitted that it's full of many horrible, mean, conniving, fake people.
St. Michael's is a great school. The academics are challenging but you will be ready for the future! The parents, teachers and students are very involved in this wonderful community. 70% of the students play sports but if you do not ,there is band and the theatre group is top rate. Our two children love SMCA. Life is what you make it. ST. Michael's makes it great!
I've known many families who have loved St. Michael's. My daughter attended freshman year, and was happy, but I was frustrated by the distance, and the expense. The academics were challenging, but the workload wasn't too bad. She had alot of friends, but I can see how cliquey it could be. Athletics are very important, and those are the popular kids. But they have a great theater director, and a very enthusiastic (perhaps a bit weird) musical director, and if your kid is interested in the arts, it could be a good place. I'm not much into sports myself, so as a parent I became really involved in the wonderful Arts Guild, which was great. really Finally the finances became too much, and my daughter decided to apply for the Global Studies program at Austin High, and once she got accepted, we gave our notice.
St. Michael's has some fantastic students, exceptional teachers, and outstanding athletics. Notice the word some. The theology department is particularly inefficient, especially the sophomore morality class. I can honestly say that taking theology at St. Michael's only pushed me away from my Catholic faith and I regret that. I came to St. Michael's as a freshman in high school and felt very welcomed at first, but then the cliques were formed and I was left on my own. Basically, if you don't play football or volleyball you're not popular and you will fee; the effects. The students aren't rude about it, but they just ignore you most of the time. Alcohol and drugs aren't a huge problem, but they are readily available to those who want them.
If you are considering sending your child to this school I suggest that you investigate it heavily. We did not and we regret it. We moved in from out of town and because we are Catholic and heard good things from a couple of people we sent our son there. At first it seemed OK and my son was happy but something was just not right here. The teachers many times do not seem interested in helping the kids and even though they mention the word "Diversity" in their mission statement this means they only accept the liberal side of diversity. Traditional students with Traditional views may have problems at this school. Many students end up leaving this school. Approximately 40 % of the Freshman class left before Sophomore year last year. Many of his friends have left St. Michael's and they all are thrilled to be gone.
St. Michael's is extremely stong in both academics and athletics! The music program is a bit weak, but nonetheless, sound wonderful each time they perform. Some of the student body is a little clique-y, and if you come from a different school than everyone else, it can be a little hard to make friends- I know I've had some trouble making friends this past year. The parents, teachers, and staff are overall very kind, loving, and caring. St. Michael's is a tough school, but that's why it's called a college preparatory school- it prepares you for the future! I do like St. Michael's, but I wish the student body was a little more accepting to outsiders.
SMCA is a great all American school. Some of the teachers are inconsitent with grading policies while others are rigid with ridiculous policies that the administration allows. Learning differences are not embraced and that is apparent with the declining student population. The learning centre is a good idea, but in practice the director does not understand the differences between each student. Sports and other activities are well attended, received and accepted. High expectations of kids are good - but they need to learn to embrace differences and work with children to make them as successful as possible. I really wish they would figure out how to be more inclusive with different learning / test taking styles.
Students are awesome. Faculty is committed. It is a wonderful community.
SMCA is an amazing school. Most teachers really care about the students and it shows. There is a lot of student spirit which is great. Two things which need improvement - the English teacher need to be consistent (in grading, expectations, setting expectations) and it would be nice if there were more student activities. One final thing - the charity work required to graduate is a blessing, but SMCA should not require the kids to do 10 hours for 'less fortunate'. Just let them volunteer for things they are passionate about!
St. Michael's is more hype than substance. While there are some excellent teachers at SMCA, the administration seems to do its best to get in the way. The best teachers seem to be hindered and the incompetent ones are praised. The office administration and school head spend too much time worrying about the small stuff and don't seem to delve into more pressing issues.
St. Michael's Catholic Academy is the #1 prep school in the Hill Country. They are no-nonsence, disciplined but fun school. Our children love it!!
The best private Academy in Austin Texas. A Catholic High School teaching Catholic values and preparing young men and women to be some of the best scholars in Texas.
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