The HMI Advantage

We have all heard the phrase “Junior year is important for college.” Junior year is important and HMI plays a central role in each student’s college journey. A semester at HMI helps students not only prepare for and stand out during the college application process, but sets them up for success during their years at college and beyond.

“Middlebury is always excited to welcome HMI alumni. They are confident, mature learners, and they know how to communicate, collaborate, think creatively, and problem-solve. HMI students are aware of a world that is greater than themselves, and they are prepared to make a difference in it.”
Greg Buckles
Former Dean of Admissions, Middlebury College

Students leave the HMI Semester ready for the college process

HMI alumni know more about who they are, what they hope to study, and the environments in which they thrive. The HMI Semester plays a central role in the college applications of most of our alumni. Over 75% of our alumni request a letter of recommendation from an HMI teacher; over 80% of students write their college essay about their time here. HMI allows students to differentiate themselves from their peers in increasingly competitive college admissions pools.

Our goal is to keep students engaged in the college search while at HMI so they return to their sending schools with the same advantages as their peers. During their semesters, students:

  • Take standardized tests, usually on our campus (AP exams, SATs, SAT II’s, and the PSAT)
  • Sit for sessions with experienced college counselors from our sending schools (spring semester only)
  • Visit either Colorado College or the University of Colorado, Boulder
"HMI students have transformative experiences through the unique combination of residential, wilderness and academic programs. These powerful moments prepare them for the rigors of college life and 21st century leadership."
Billy Corbett
Former Assistant Director of Admissions, Dartmouth College

Most frequently attended colleges

Over the past five years, HMI alumni have most frequently attended the following colleges:

  • Colorado College
  • Middlebury College
  • Bates College
  • Whitman College
  • Bowdoin College
  • Colby College
  • University of Colorado Boulder
  • University of Vermont
  • St. Lawrence University
  • Skidmore College
Families are encouraged to use the breaks in our semester calendar to schedule college tours. Furthermore, HMI alumni often make arrangements to meet up with older HMI alumni—people for whom they feel enormous affinity—who attend those colleges.

Standardized testing dates are the same at HMI as elsewhere in the country. All of our students should consult with their school college counseling offices to make a testing plan that includes the HMI Semester. Students who attend during our fall semester take the PSAT at HMI. Students attending our spring semester can choose from a variety of standardizing testing options. Here are some frequently-chosen routes for spring HMI students:

  • Many students take the SAT in December and the ACT in January, before coming to HMI. This allows students to study with a tutor or take prep classes through the fall.
  • The spring ACT test date often falls during our spring break, making it an option for many students.
  • We offer all students the opportunity to take the SAT during the May test date. Some of our students choose to take SAT Subject Tests on this date as they will have just wrapped up many classes that align with subject tests.
  • Many students take the ACT, SAT or SAT Subject Tests in June after finishing HMI; our semester intentionally finishes before these test dates, allowing time for intensive review.
  • Depending on scores and individual circumstances, our recently-minted alumni often will take the standardized tests again in July, August or October, giving them time to report these scores to colleges by the early decision deadline.

Families regularly ask us about school-sponsored preparation for standardized testing at HMI. Standardized test prep is not part of our program for several reasons. First, we care about balance for students. During our semester, students are already very busy engaging with their peers and teachers, and partaking in our wilderness curriculum. Adding test prep into an already full schedule would reduce the effectiveness and outcomes unique to our program. Second, our alumni report that the periods before and after their semester at HMI, as well as school breaks, have afforded sufficient prep opportunities for standardized tests. Finally, our alumni report that their scores from the standardized tests they took before or after the HMI semester—with the benefit of test prep—were roughly equivalent to those from tests they took at HMI. They attribute this to the benefits of a lower-stress atmosphere surrounding standardized testing at our school. These points notwithstanding, many students do prepare for standardized tests at HMI by communicating with tutors online or using independent test aids. We find this approach works well for our students and their college profiles.