FAQs

We do our best to provide thorough and clear answers to all of the questions that prospective families ask. Below you will find four categories of FAQs to browse. Just click an arrow to see the questions and answers. Not seeing what you’re looking for? Give us a call and we’ll do our level best to provide an answer. We may even add it to this page!

Admissions FAQs

Q. How is Shortridge Academy different from other schools?

As an innovative transitional boarding school within a therapeutic community, Shortridge utilizes research-informed, strengths-based approaches in our work with students and families. This contemporary orientation focuses on developing strengths rather than prioritizing a reduction of problems. Nurturing the development and improvement of skills, such as better family communication and positive decision-making, and building and maintaining healthy relationships are key to our program. We do this in the context of a more normalized, engaging environment than other schools.

Second, within clear boundaries around safety and security, we engage and partner with students on topics that are of interest and importance to them in their daily lives, while at the same time intentionally working toward developing strengths. Our team approach allows us to assess a student’s strengths and progress across multiple areas. A student’s team consists of their therapist, academic advisor, residential mentor, and family; input from other Shortridge staff informs a student’s progress as well. Developing their individual treatment plans (called Positive Development Plans) and updating the dress code, dorm life, leadership opportunities, and recreational activities are all areas where we collaborate with students.

Third, we support and promote authoritative parenting approaches within our milieu. This is an evidenced-based parenting style that involves scaffolding students with both high degrees of nurturing support and appropriately demanding challenges. Authoritative parenting includes rational discussion between parents and youth, active listening, and the setting of boundaries that adjust as students become more responsible. This approach is brought to life on a daily basis and manifests in our technology policies, rules around relationships, privileges, food, and leadership expectations.

Q. Where are students typically coming from before Shortridge Academy?

About 80% of our students come from a wilderness therapy program, 15% come from a Residential Treatment Center or higher level of care, and the last 5% will come from home after completing an intervention such as IOP, partial-hospitalization, etc. These interventions equip students with the insight, coping mechanisms, and skills to be successful in our level of therapeutic and academic care.

Q. What is the length of stay for students at Shortridge Academy?

Our minimum length of stay is 4 terms, which reflects an academic year (roughly ten months) in order to take full advantage of the therapeutic and academic curricula and opportunities for rehearsal of skills to be used after Shortridge. Individual lengths of stay are determined by progress made toward academic objectives, personal and family goals outlined in the Positive Development Plans, and the timing of transitions to next schools. Our model is designed to be a transitional school for students to build skills, increase their sense of self, and excel academically so they can be successful at their next setting. We do not want to keep a student at Shortridge for longer than they are in need of our supportive environment. With that being said, some students and families elect to stay longer and on occasion an accelerated stay can be entertained.

Q. How do you engage and partner with students on those topics?

Every student is assigned to one of three residential life committees that meet weekly. The committees are student-led and staff-supported and are structured as such. Students occupy the positions of committee chair, vice chair, and secretary/treasurer and are responsible for coordinating and developing weekly agendas, running meetings and taking/sharing notes. Each committee tackles a general area of residential life such as community service, leadership roles and responsibilities, privileges, and activities. After the committees meet, the entire school convenes and committee chairs report out what their committee discussed and is working on. This process not only engages students and gives them some ownership of their time with us but also fosters the development of strengths, particularly effective communication skills, mature decision-making, planning and organizing, and completing a task.

Q. How do you partner with parents/guardians?

Strong partnerships between Shortridge and parents are critical for successful outcomes. Our staff make continuous and intentional efforts to improve communication and partnership with families. We are grateful to Shortridge families who collaboratively engage with us to work through challenges as well as celebrate the many successes our students regularly achieve. Please see our family agreements outlined in our Family/Student Handbook.

Q. What does your approval process look like?

When a family, educational consultant, or referral source inquires about enrolling a student they will be connected to our admissions team. The team will request documentation and additional information to inform the review process. Documentation includes psychological testing/educational testing, transcripts, connection with current therapist, and completion of our online application. Once documentation is received, it is reviewed by our admissions team, medical director, clinical specialist, and academic director to determine fit. Often student and family interviews are conducted as part of this process. If deemed appropriate, your family and/or referral source is notified and the next steps can begin.

Q. How long is your approval process?

We recognize the process of choosing the next step for your student can be overwhelming and long. Our admissions team does our best to connect with the review team to provide you with a timely answer. This can vary depending on how quickly connections and documents are received. We do our best to be transparent throughout the process and inform families of updates and where we are in the process within 48 hours of receiving all required information.

Q. Can my student enroll any time?

Yes. We offer rolling admissions as well as an all-year round academic calendar. This provides us with the flexibility to have your student enroll at any time. Enrollments are conducted Monday through Friday typically starting between 10am and 2pm.

Q. Can I come visit campus?

Absolutely! We love to have families and students visit our campus once they’ve been approved. In fact, it is highly encouraged. We can also accommodate virtual tours for those who are unable to travel or have a time constraint.

Q. How is technology used to promote positive development academically and therapeutically?

Technology serves a variety of purposes at Shortridge Academy. Students use their assigned Apple laptop in class, to complete academic and therapeutic assignments, and for approved and appropriate entertainment. Students and parents connect electronically to stay in communication and work on family issues, therapeutic assignments, and improved communication. Students and parents get to practice new strategies such as boundary setting around emailing and computer use from the beginning of the program. A more “normalized environment” allows for this technology to be used for approved and appropriate entertainment during free time. Laptops are not allowed in the dorms, and there are “no-tech” times throughout the day and during some class time. Filters are in place to block inappropriate websites and social media.

Q. Do you have on-site medication management?

Yes, our Medical Director can prescribe and adjust student medication while monitoring closely the effects and follow through accordingly.

Technology FAQs

What is remote device management technology?

Remote device management technology is often referred to as mobile device management, or MDM, and is a cloud-based system for configuring computers, tablets, and smartphones. Administrators can allow or prohibit specific applications on the managed devices, install software such as content filtering, or video conferencing software, and even manage computer preferences and settings.

Why do students need devices at the school?

Students use laptops for a variety of purposes, including academics, therapeutic assignments, connection to family, artistic expression, and simply for a bit of normalcy. Classes rely heavily on computers for research, writing, content delivery, virtual labs, etc. Technology fosters collaboration and contribution between staff and students, the hallmark of our Authoritative and Positive Youth Development model. An electronic music device will be given to each student for access to their music playlists. Overtime, if a student demonstrates a readiness to practice having access to more technology, their team might make the recommendation for the student to partake in the “phone program”. This would allow an individual student access to a personal phone which is managed by our technology team. Overtime as the student demonstrates responsibility and readiness, they might have access to additional privileges including communication, games, and social media.

What about social media?

Social media is a broad category. For some young people, social media is used appropriately as a way to stay connected to family and friends. Also, social networking platforms are often used to create connections between students at next placement schools and colleges. Quite often Shortridge students have had problems using, or over-using social media. And for some parents, the term “social media” conjures a negative image only of Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook. For those students and families, our MDM can exclude selected social media platforms. Of course as students make positive change, so too can access to technology.

Can students use technology in the dorms?

Parents often want to know what the rules are regarding technology in the dorms. With the exception of quarantine time, laptops aren’t allowed in the dorms. Even during quarantine periods computers are only available during designated times. Electronic music playing devices are permitted in dorms.

Student Life FAQs

Q. How does Shortridge promote a healthy and positive community?

We strive to promote a healthy and positive community by focusing on positive and healthy relationships. Critical to both Positive Youth Development and Authoritative Parenting approaches are healthy and sustained relationships between adults and adolescents. Shortridge utilizes staff-led, student-driven committees to collaborate on topics of residential life (activities, privileges), academic life (schedule, field trips), and leadership positions. Shared experiences provide opportunities for positive connection and fun. Examples include trips, Field Day, dances/celebrations, community meetings, and spontaneous on campus activities. Students are also encouraged and prompted to utilize assertive communication skills and conflict resolution tools “in-the-moment” by peers and residential mentors. Additionally, therapists support healthy communication and relationship building during groups. 

Q. How does Shortridge measure student progress?

Shortridge does not rely heavily on a level system to measure progress. We use data collected at enrollment by multiple reporters including staff, students, and families to develop an initial Positive Development Plan. At several other junctures while a student is at Shortridge, therapeutic instruments are administered to measure progress toward goals and to help guide revision of the individual plan. In addition to providing the framework for student progress, these therapeutic instruments are part of Shortridge’s formal program of evaluation.

Q. What other leadership opportunities do you offer students?

In addition to elected leadership roles for committees, students can serve in leadership positions within one of our ever-changing activity-based clubs (e.g. foodie, volleyball, rock climbing). Additionally, semester-long positions of dorm heads, dorm supports, and assistants are in place in each dorm room. Each of these positions is student driven and staff supported.

Q. Do students really have a say in everything?

In relation to safety or clinical issues, the adult professionals are in charge and are the decision makers. A limit in these areas (such as not allowing intimate contact, times for “lights out” allowing for proper sleep, no drugs or cigarettes) provides the scaffolding to a healthy, strengths-based community. Students are actively involved in decision making on topics of personal preference where there is little or no research backing a particular direction. An excellent example of such a topic is physical appearance during “non-business hours.” Hair length, hair color, facial hair, and jewelry are all topics of great importance to young people but about which there is little evidence that any particular policy impacts students’ future success.

Q. Does Shortridge have a dress code?

Clothing, hair, makeup, and accessories should be clean and presentable. During the school day, students should be mindful of dressing appropriately for an academic setting, and evenings can be more relaxed. The clothing agreements are not intended to body shame or control students, but to establish healthy practices for self-presentation and allow space for identity exploration, while also considering clinical issues related to dress, sexuality, self-care, etc. Clothing agreements are intended to help prepare students for a more traditional environment.

Q. What is the structure of the program and how heavily does Shortridge rely on level systems?

Shortridge uses a combination of academic terms and multi-month therapeutic curriculum phases. Academic years are broken into five terms lasting roughly 8–10 weeks each. Between terms, students have opportunities to participate in fun activities or go on their planned home visits according to the visit schedule and phase they are in. Phases are used to outline eligibility criteria for privileges and types of off-campus/home visits but are not used to guide students’ individual academic or therapeutic work. Phases offer students a framework to help manage expectations—both theirs and ours—in areas of leadership and life at and after Shortridge. With each phase comes longer and less structured (over time) home visits where parents and students get to practice or “rehearse” being together, negotiating, and communicating.

Q. What is Shortridge’s view on the use of token economies and consequence systems?

One of Shortridge Academy’s goals is for students to leave the school having internalized positive decision-making skills as well as other healthy lifestyle and relationship skills. Our focus on strengths and the “internalization of skills” yields to a prioritization of individual goals and measures rather than external mechanisms like token economies and rigid consequence systems. We aren’t a school that simply acknowledges external compliance to rules and regulations. It is important to note that incentives and consequences are used when appropriate, such as to promote a safe community or for clinical purposes. These tactics, however, are not our primary vehicle to support the internalization process. Consequences are based on the infraction and typically are a combination of cognitive/introspective assignments along with some behavior-based ones such as an “apology in action” consisting of a community service project.

Q. How are dorm assignments decided?

Our Leadership Committee (comprised of student dorm heads) review new students enrolling with the support of the Clinical Director and Program Director. Age, interests, and previous placement is reviewed to determine the best dorm and roommates for them. The Directors also take therapeutic information into account (without disclosing to students).

Q. What do students do on the weekends? During break weeks?

Aligning with our Positive Youth Development Modal (PYD) on and off campus activities are student driven and staff supported. This means extracurricular activities change as our milieu evolves. Popular activities include: beach trips, skiing/snowboarding, rock climbing, paintball, movies, arts and crafts, soccer, basketball etc. With the exception of our campus closing during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, programming continues during mid-term and end of term breaks. This programming can include the above mentioned activities as well as a variety of additional extracurriculars. Once a student has completed their orientation phase (typically takes 1-2 weeks) they are eligible to attend off-campus trips.

Clinical FAQs

Q. What does therapy look like at Shortridge?

Each student will have 1 individual session a week, 1 family session a week (utilizing a platform such as ZOOM), and two group therapy sessions a week. Individual sessions are focused on processing issues within the milieu, debriefing family and off-campus visits, and reviewing the status of and data from their personalized plans. Groups are typically process groups and focus on conflict resolution between students and overall community-building. Occasionally, we will deliver specialty groups during one of these group times or at other times throughout the year, focused on a theme such as substance use, anxiety, adoption, emotional regulation, and social justice. This format of 2–3 groups per week is typical of a therapeutic boarding school-level of care given the need to balance full-time academics, activities, and recreational time each week.

Q. What are the credentials of the therapists?

We are fortunate to have a variety of master’s level professionals, including social workers, counseling psychologists, and marriage and family therapists.

Q. How and who provides clinical oversight of the program, therapists, and staff?

Our licensed clinical director supervises all therapists and provides clinical direction for the school.

Q. What modalities are your therapists proficient in?

We offer a variety of therapeutic modalities to our students. These trauma sensitive modalities include and are not limited to: Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Mindfulness, Motivational Interviewing, Brain-Spotting, EMDR, Solution Focused Therapy, Family Systems Therapy, and Structural Family Therapy.

Q. How will you determine which therapist my child will work with?

Many different factors are taken into account. We will work with families and current therapists/program providers to learn what modalities, interventions, and styles have worked and not worked in the past for your child. When assigning therapists we are also looking at how your child will work with the current students on the therapists’ team.

Q. What kind of family therapy is part of the program and how often is this provided?

We offer weekly updates and therapy via phone, monthly face¬to-face sessions, New Parent Orientations every quarter, and regular parent conferences.

Q. How is the family work at Shortridge different from other therapeutic boarding schools’ approaches?

Family work at Shortridge Academy is highly prioritized because we believe the family is a culmination of individual member strengths that influence development of each family member and the family as a whole. For this reason, our family work focuses on utilization of authoritative parenting (partnership/power-sharing) approaches where the family’s strengths are leveraged in promoting Positive Youth Development. Shortridge Academy embraces our family component through this “co-parenting” approach and takes this collaboration seriously from the day of application to after graduation. From initial communication and correspondence, family goals (short and long term) are discussed and drive the creation of the Positive Development Plan and influence revisions based on progress and further needs. Shortridge Academy partners with families, facilitating the identification of inherent strengths, positive attributes, and characteristics while empowering families to recognize the “6 C’s of Positive Youth Development” (Caring, Character, Connection, Competence, Confidence, and Contribution) unique to their student.

Q. What kinds of support are parents/guardians offered?

Outside of weekly family therapy sessions between families and their student, parents are invited and encouraged to attend monthly parent support calls hosted by our clinical team, in addition to utilizing resources shared during New Family Orientation.

Q: Can Shortridge accommodate students transitioning from a residential treatment center in a “user-friendly” way?

Shortridge was designed to serve students transitioning from a short-term, primary intervention program such as a therapeutic wilderness program. However, due to Shortridge’s model of a partnership-based milieu and a more normalized environment than most therapeutic boarding schools, our program can be more palatable than other schools. For example, while our off-campus family and home visit structure is earlier and more frequent compared to other therapeutic boarding schools, a student who has completed a residential treatment program is usually going on extended off-campus and home visits. This can be an issue for some students and families. However, our technology policy, dress code, allowance of digital music players and music of choice, and the number and type of on and off-campus activities are very appealing to students who have been at an RTC where the structure and privileges were more stringent.

Academic FAQs

Q. How many months is an academic school year?

An academic school year is 9-10 months. 

Q. How do you handle rolling admissions?

We have 5 academic terms in a year, ranging between 8 to 10 weeks per term. Our terms run from January to March, March to May, May to August, August to October, and October to December. There is a week-long break between each term. In the middle of each term, we have a short break (four-day weekend) that breaks up the terms into halves. Teachers generally organize their curriculum in two- week to month-long units to allow for students who start mid-term to easily catch up.

Q. How many classes do students take in a term? A full academic year?

Students generally accrue 7–7.5 credits per school year, plus an additional credit if they utilize the Learning Center. Students enroll in 5 classes per term—or 6 if they use the Learning Center—and therefore earn 5 or 6 academic credits in one academic year. In addition, students accrue 1 credit in PE and 1 elective credit in Communication and Leadership Skills per academic year. Lastly, upon completing the program, students are awarded half a credit (.5) in Health.

Q. What if my child completed a full semester prior to Shortridge but his school did not award partial credits?

Shortridge will award partial credits from previous schools even if that school did not. We’ll need a grade report indicating a passing grade at the quarter or semester mark. As stated earlier, however, the student’s ability to complete the full credit in the remaining time will depend on his ability to demonstrate proficiency in the subject.

Q. How are partial credits handled?

We accept any fraction of credits that a previous school has awarded, .25 credit or greater. If a student has earned a quarter credit in a class prior to Shortridge, she will generally be able to complete just three terms here to earn a full credit. However, we reserve the right to keep a student in a class if she is not able to demonstrate that she has the skills and proficiencies needed. Students can complete one class and move on to the next level, even if they have not yet finished other classes. This is a common occurrence at Shortridge.

Q. How many credits are required for graduation?

24 total credits are required for graduation. The breakdown per subject is as follows:

  • English – 4
  • Math – 3
  • Science – 3 (1 life science with lab, 1 physical science with lab)
  • Social Studies – 3 (1 US History, 1 World History, .5 Economics, .5 U.S. Government)
  • Physical Education – 1
  • Health – .5
  • Electives – 6.5

Q. What is the health credit and how is it graded?

Through the therapeutic program, students learn about physical health and nutrition, substance use, and mental health issues. The grade is either pass or fail, and students earn a total of .5 credit over the course of a 9–10 month period.

Q. What is the communication and leadership skills credit and how is it graded?

Students earn this credit through participation in therapeutic groups, seminars, and phase move-ups where students learn and demonstrate vital communication skills (oral and written) and leadership skills. They are asked to reflect on and demonstrate these skills periodically in individual sessions, as well as in their phase applications and move-up presentations. This credit is assessed on a pass/fail basis.

Q. How many credits do students earn per term?

Students can accrue a quarter credit (.25) per class per term.

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