St. Michael's High School

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Curriculum, Rigor, and "College Prep"

Curriculum, Rigor, and “College Prep”


With nine academic departments and more than 90 course offerings, St. Michael’s offers a rich, college preparatory curriculum with many opportunities for students to excel. 


College Prep

At St. Michael’s, the term “college preparatory” means much more than just academic preparation. First, our goal is to prepare students to attend and succeed at four-year colleges and universities across the nation.


Next, we believe academic preparation is only part of the preparation a student must prepare for before going to college. Students need to be prepared in other ways, outside of academics, such as how to deal with failure, prudent time management, social and emotional preparation, and preparing students for a college atmosphere that may challenge them spiritually and morally.


Another example of our unique approach to “college prep” is our school’s emphasis on writing.  Be it math, English, science, or history—students are asked to write across every academic department, not just the English department. This is done to prepare students for a college environment inundated with essays, papers, and research assignments in every academic discipline.



At St. Michael’s, the term “rigor” absolutely refers to breadth and depth of academic study; however, we extend that breadth and depth to the heart and soul as well, not just the mind. We also challenge their hearts from day one, to examine why they are learning, what they are learning, and to see the big picture (God’s big picture). For example, in our theology classes our students often organize coat drives or canned food drives. But, instead of asking our students to run a food drive to feed the hungry and homeless, we challenge them to think about how to end homelessness.


Another example of St. Michael’s approach to rigor is evidenced in our school retreat programming.  Students walk through a series of retreats every year that challenge them about their spiritual journeys, their personal relationships with God, how they interact and serve each other as classmates, and what their role and place is within their family units. School is about learning, and much of the “rigor” that St. Michael’s prides itself on doesn’t come from a textbook, it comes from teaching the heart, not just the head.  It’s about moral and ethical rigor as well.   



There are a general set of requirements schools must ask of their students, but the amount of flexibility a school has to meet, and then exceed, those requirements is often where you find the difference between great, and, well, not-so-great schools. At St. Michael’s, we require students to complete 28 credits of coursework to graduate. At other, private and public schools the requirement often stops at 24 credits. Simply put, St. Michael’s graduates receive a better education because they are required to complete more coursework than other schools in specific areas that we feel are important to developing well-educated and well-rounded students who are prepared for college and beyond. Our students take more classes in areas are more important, and they are physically in school for more days and more contact minutes than any other school in Santa Fe.





"I am currently attending college in Arizona, and I can't tell you how grateful I am for the education I received at St. Michael's. I have been so well prepared, academically."

Lauren '14