page tools :
The Urban School
of San Francisco
1563 Page Street
San Francisco, CA 94117
415 626 2919

Next Steps Blog


The Urban Advanced Studies Curriculum

by Susan Lee
Director of College Counseling

The Urban School curriculum provides an exceptionally strong foundation in college preparatory subjects. Many of our classes have distinctive features that set them apart as particularly challenging and comparable to college-level work. These classes are developed by the Urban faculty and are not limited to the College Board Advanced Placement curriculum.

This year, we have decided to use one designation for all of our most rigorous classes – the Urban Advanced Studies curriculum – or UAS. We will no longer label classes on our transcript as honors or AP, but rather UAS. The designation however, will not change the fact that they are recognized as honors level courses by colleges and universities across the country, including the University of California.

Because many schools offer College Board Advanced Placement courses as a way to define their most rigorous curriculum, “AP” has become part of the language of selective college admissions. There is an impression that AP courses are necessary to be considered for a selective college. College Board AP, however, is only one kind of honors class.

Many schools, like Urban, offer few or no AP courses and continue to have students accepted to highly selective colleges. In fact, more and more schools – and colleges – are moving away from emphasizing the standardized curriculum of the College Board AP program. Urban is a member of a new organization, the Independent Curriculum Group, which works with secondary schools across the country to help them move beyond standardized curriculum. Head of School Mark Salkind serves as the chair of ICG’s board of directors.

After discussing the UAS designation with almost every college representative that has visited Urban this year, we are confident that this formalization of our advanced level coursework more clearly articulates the curriculum and values of Urban…and will help our students in the college admissions process. Colleges want to know what the most rigorous curriculum is at a school and appreciate it when this is clearly presented. Students are evaluated within the context of the school and are encouraged to take as challenging a course load as possible, based on what is offered at the school.   

A sampling of comments from college reps who visited Urban this fall:

“Why WOULD a school like Urban have AP courses – it is not in line with the mission of your school.”

“LOTS of schools do that – this is nothing new.”  

“I wish I had taken some of these classes. “

“We are finding that even students who do well on AP tests know how to pass tests, but they are not prepared for our (college level) curriculum.”

For more information about Independent Curriculum and college admissions and what other schools are doing, visit the Independent Curriculum Group website.

Posted by Kristen Bailey on Thursday November, 5, 2009 at 05:11PM


Choose groups to clone to:


Susan Lee
Co-Director of College Counseling
415 593 9511

Lauren Gersick
Co-Director of College Counseling
415 593 9512

Leslie Schaffer
College Counseling Assistant
415 593 9519

© All rights reserved   //   Sitemap   //   Terms of Use/Privacy Policy

email page print page large type small type
powered by finalsite