Urban School sees record number of applicants for 2014-15 school year

It’s official: Checks have been signed, and the students of the class of 2018 are committing to coming to The Urban School of San Francisco. This year’s admissions season saw a record 616 applicants, the most in Urban’s 47-year history and a whopping 80 more than last year.

Why has Urban suddenly become so popular? One possible explanation is Urban’s educational model. “More schools (both middle and high school, local and national) are implementing educational practices that Urban has been doing for many years, in some cases, decades,” wrote Bobby Ramos, Urban’s director of admissions, in an email to the Legend.

“More middle schools, many of which send students to Urban, have started block scheduling. Three independent schools that opened recently chose block scheduling as their scheduling format,” Ramos wrote.

“Also, a few of our colleague high schools have recently started 1:1 technology programs, either laptop or iPad … but compared to Urban’s mature and fully integrated technology approach, these new tech programs will take some time to catch up.”

The class of 2018 mingles in Urban’s back garden during an event for incoming freshmen, sporting fresh Urban gear and “Urban class of 2018” pennants.

While Urban’s tried-and-true approach to nontraditional education may partly explain the surge in applications, some Urban students also are recognizing a change in culture.

When Xander Beberman (’14) was applying to Urban in 2010, he was led to believe “Urban was a ‘slacker school’ and was filled with kids that just smoked pot all the time. I was partially convinced, considering when I shadowed I ended up doing all of my shadow’s work for him.”

Students in the incoming class of 2018 reported new stereotypes of Urban at their middle schools. Leah Baron (‘18), an 8th grader at Marin Country Day School, noted that at her middle school, Urban was associated with “competitiveness to get in and athletics.”

With a new building scheduled to open in 2017, and more applicants than ever, it is hard to compare Urban to the tiny single-building school it was when it was founded in 1966.