When I completed Kroka’s Ecuador semester program in December of 2011, I was not interested in college. I enrolled in Kroka’s program during the fall of my high school senior year after three years of educational frustration. I was looking for a way to get out of the high school system, and I found Kroka’s semester school to be just what I needed to get through my final year. I came out of the eye-opening and challenging semester program – three-and-a-half months of living in community, learning expedition skills, studying permaculture and Spanish language, and sleeping in a sleeping bag under the night sky – and went back to finish my high school career. Although I had grown during my Kroka semester, I was still frustrated to be in school and was not exactly excited by the idea of college. Four more years of classrooms, whiteboards, and homework? No thank you!
When I found out about Sterling during the spring of my senior year, applying was an obvious decision. By then my peers in high school had long completed their college applications, but I was dreaming of working on a farm and traveling abroad; anything that would get me outside and away from the classroom. What I realized when I read the Sterling viewbook was that it offered the opportunity to do all the things I wanted to but with the security of a college community. I applied in late April and started at Sterling that fall. I was grateful for Sterling’s rolling admissions policy and for their enthusiasm about my accomplishments at Kroka.
As a student at Sterling and a Kroka alum, I find that the educational philosophies of the two schools are deeply interwoven. Kroka programs expose students to experiential education through expedition style learning. At Sterling, this manifests in first-year Bounder program where students learn orienteering and train for a winter camping trip together. At Kroka, students on semester programs have a “Big Job” that teaches accountability while providing valuable service to the community. At Sterling, the Work Program allows each student to contribute through hands-on work-learning- service. Kroka students value the small community, and during the semester students actively practice communication with one another. At Sterling we have a weekly community meeting and build a strong network of accountability within the student body.
College is not for everyone. Many Kroka alumni end up living fulfilling lives having never received a college degree. As for me, I’m glad I made the decision I did. For Kroka alumni who want to experience college, Sterling is a natural fit.