Guess and check: how the 9th graders chose Urban over Zoom


9th graders in an Urban hallway on the 23rd of September. Photo credit: Luke McKane.

The COVID-19 pandemic changed many aspects of daily life. However, the impact on Urban’s Class of 2025’s high school application process was unlike anything the rest of the Urban student body has experienced. Without in-person visits, Urban’s current 9th grade students never got to see a real day at Urban, something that many older students would say gave them more information about the school than any open house could. So what led these students to make the important decision to attend Urban?
The importance of face-to-face conversations with prospective students is something that can not be understated, yet was taken for granted in the past. To try and offer the Class of 2025 something similar, Urban’s admissions department hosted more interactive events, such as student panels and short lessons from Urban teachers.
“The part of Urban that [was] most memorable to me was probably when we got to meet many of the seniors and the whole panel of students who are helping with admissions,” said Zac Rose ‘25. Rose said that the panels offered a window into “what daily life at Urban was like and that was a big part of the reason that [he] chose to come here.” These student panels not only showcased the daily life of Urban students but also how students viewed the school and their experiences at Urban.
But it was not just the student panels that gave prospective students an insight into the Urban community; it was also the teachers and their unique lessons. During open houses, teachers from every department gave presentations on what makes learning their subject at Urban unique. “[The Urban teacher] talking about the arts was really interesting,” said Jaxon Howard ‘25. “At my old school, we didn’t have arts the same way.” While art classes are not exclusive to Urban, what made Urban stand out to many 9th graders was the teaching style of classes. “It was a little lesson. It was about Medusa,” said Omar Williams Albraldes ‘25, recalling his experience during the English department presentation. “It’s something that I never really got to do at my old school and that was really eye-opening.”
Now that the 9th graders have started their Urban careers, they are beginning to form connections within their own grade as well as with older students. “[I have] learned how outgoing, energetic, and supportive students are at Urban,” said a student in an anonymous survey sent to the 9th grade.
While the experiences of the 10th, 11th and 12th grade students are vastly different from those of the 9th graders, students are bound to find similarities in their reasons to attend Urban so that new bonds can be formed. Upperclassmen can feel excited at the prospect of meeting the new members of the Urban community and continue to show 9th graders their support. One 9th grader said, “the environment here doesn’t feel judgy, and I can participate in conversations without hesitation. The students are also very supportive and enthusiastic, and that just makes my whole experience a lot better.”