Upper School

Self-Reliance & A Strong Work Ethic

McLean’s Upper School students are busy preparing for college—learning to appreciate fine literature, engaging in the study of cultures throughout history, solving complex problems in AP calculus and science, and expressing their ideas in essays and research papers. Some are benefiting from the study of computer science, technology, and robotics.

Others proudly celebrate their jazz combo ensembles, quality dramatic and musical performances, computer graphic designs, and art displays. And all are prepared for college and next steps, thanks to a committed, conscientious faculty that knows our students and helps them to know themselves.

Upper School expert teachers continue to offer embedded support for bright students, including those with dyslexia, anxiety, ADHD, and organizational challenges, while still delivering a rigorous college preparatory curriculum. Students are equipped with the strategies to best support their own learning and further develop their self-awareness and self-advocacy skills. The work of “learning how to learn” is very much a part of daily life, with students identifying how they learn best, and taking action on what they need to be successful.


Upper SchoolParent to Parent

How Do I Know My Child Will Be Prepared for College?
How Is The Social Environment In The Upper School?
Is There Academic Support In The Upper School?
Is The Upper School Curriculum Rigorous?

HighlightsUpper School

  • Community building through writing and implementing a student government constitution, creating and supporting an honor code, and participating in service-learning projects both on and off-campus.
  • Senior projects and experiential learning opportunities.
  • Comprehensive college counseling program and admissions at more than 220 colleges and universities in the past five years.
  • Competitive athletic program including conference championships and undefeated seasons.
  • A vibrant social calendar including after school and weekend activities, spirit weeks, a fall dance, senior farewell, and junior/senior prom.
  • CORE Program to guide all students through a sequence of executive skill building, social-emotional learning, and contextualized investigation of the world around them as they develop their personal identities and pursue an understanding of their place in local and global communities.

Upper school student mixes paints on palette

Q and AUpper School Support

What academic support is offered in the Upper School?

McLean faculty members have extensive knowledge of best practices in working with diverse learners, and all students benefit from the flexible educational styles used by our teachers. Along with the teachers, the Coordinator of Learning Services creates a Student Learning Profile℠ for each student and an Academic Achievement Plan for students when necessary.

Students also receive additional support from faculty in one-on-one or small-group tutorials during the school day. Accommodations such as extended time on tests and exams, laptop computers, class notes, and speech-to-text software are all available. When appropriate, students may also receive readers and/or scribes for tests and exams.

Does the Upper School offer independent or experiential learning opportunities?

Yes! Qualified juniors and seniors may enroll in courses at local colleges and universities, along with online AP classes, if schedules and course obligations permit.

Some students may also choose to pursue a passion or interest outside of school, such as EMT training. In addition, senior projects provide opportunities for independent study and internships.

What social/emotional support is provided in the Upper School?

Self-advocacy is a hallmark of McLean, and our Upper School Counselors work as part of a multidisciplinary team to create a safe and respectful environment where all students may learn.

Students become confident that they can handle tasks they encounter by working closely with their teachers and using the strengths of their particular learning styles. The advisory program also provides consistent social-emotional learning activities that are a cornerstone.

Additionally, our required CORE program for all grades creates deliberate and purposeful opportunities to support and guide students through executive functioning skill building, social-emotional learning, and contextualized investigation of the world around them as they develop their personal identities and pursue an understanding of their place in local and global communities. 

Summarize the College Counseling process.

Our comprehensive college counseling program helps students identify and select schools that best match their academic strengths, learning styles, and personal interests. McLean’s college counselors meet regularly with juniors and seniors to review the college application process—researching schools, planning visits, writing essays, and practicing interview skills.

In addition, the counselors work with individual students and their parents or guardians to help families navigate and manage the college admission and financial aid processes. Students learn to use SCOIR to manage their college applications.

How does the Upper School prepare students for college?

We take our college preparatory role seriously at McLean, and all we do – beginning as early as Lower School – is geared toward helping our students become confident, capable learners ready for the world.

Our gradual release approach means that throughout their time at McLean, students receive various, appropriate levels of scaffolding and support – as well as self-advocacy skill building – with the goal being independence by the time they graduate and go on to college.