High School of American Studies at Lehman College
Students looking at US News and World Report rankings may be surprised to learn that the top ranked high school in New York isn’t Stuyvesant or Bronx Science, but rather a different specialized high school in the Bronx–High School of American Studies at Lehman College(HSAS). As the only specialized high school with an explicit focus on social studies, The High School of American Studies at Lehman College is ideal for those who are passionate about history, political science, sociology, or any other social science. HSAS’s program focuses on providing students with opportunities to engage with history through experiences, such as trips and seminars, and to bring the past to life through the study of primary sources, multimedia, and creative teaching methods. By partnering with Lehman College, students at HSAS have access to course offerings rivaling the largest specialized high schools, with a tenth of the students. HSAS is a small, tight-knit community, with robust academics, varied extracurricular opportunities, and a terrific home on Lehman College’s campus.
- Enrollment 411
- College Matriculation 100%
- Graduation rate 99%
According to their official site, HSAS’s goal is to “prepare students for admission to highly competitive colleges and for a wide range of careers in politics, law, journalism, business, science, mathematics, and the arts.” Students are required to take three years of AP US History, two years of AP World History, and to complete other core social studies classes such as economics. While their concentration is on social studies, HSAS also gives students opportunities to take Advanced Placement courses in English, Calculus, and Spanish Language. The level of participation in AP classes is a large reason why HSAS was ranked the #1 school in New York in the most recent US News and World Report.
With an emphasis on social studies, HSAS prides itself on their teachers’ instructional delivery of history. Classes focus on developing students’ abilities to analyze historical events and question common historical interpretations. Students are tasked with not merely learning historical details, but understanding the untold stories surrounding the events and analyzing situations from myriad perspectives. As described in the course catalog, classes focus on the “grey” areas of history. In order to properly analyze these events from many angles, teachers have students go beyond the text book and analyze primary documents, literature from the time period studied, and academic secondary literature. Students follow their personal academic interests and acquire college-level research skills by completing individual research projects. When appropriate, students participate in seminars and trips to historical sites in order to acquire authentic experiences outside of the classroom.
Students in their 11th and 12th grade are allowed to take one class at Lehman College per semester. Students enrolled in these classes are treated as college students and are no longer directly under the authority of the DOE. By accessing Lehman’s extensive course catalog, students at HSAS are able to take classes rarely seen at a small school. Besides the course offerings at Lehman College, students have access to a wide range of high school level electives, particularly in history and English.
Beyond academics, there are various clubs, groups, and sports opportunities for students to participate in. Athletics teams exist for both boys and girls in track, basketball, softball, and tennis. HSAS students are driven in both academics and sports. Seven of the 11 varsity teams are Division A, and half of students partake in student athletics. There is also a coed bowling team.
In addition to team sports, there are a limited amount of clubs students can join from Model UN, debate club, Spanish Honor Society, drama club, to yearbook, chess, and community service clubs. For those interested in physical fitness, there are clubs for soccer and running. The administration is highly supportive of students who participate in social justice causes. Indeed, HSAS’s website frequently highlights the activities of the students, including school walkouts over gun safety.
Student life at HSAS is described as a family. With low class sizes, students and teachers have unique opportunities to develop strong relationships over the years. While former students note that the school’s culture is competitive, many students also note that students at HSAS have good interpersonal relationships.
HSAS is located in the Bronx, on the campus of Lehman College.
While the campus is somewhat distant to central NYC, it is easily accessible via car or public transportation. Train stops at Bedford Park Boulevard via IRT No. 4 or the IND “D” line are a 5-minute walk to the campus. In addition to its accessible location, HSAS’s position on Lehman College’s campus is a major benefit. Students at HSAS have access to the college’s top-notch facilities including library, gym, cafeteria, and theater, all of which are accessible by student ID. Access to these facilities gives students the option to research, work out, eat, and interact with college students and enjoy comforts that are not bound by funding restrictions of the public school system.
This small school is ideal for students who want a rigorous education with a proclivity toward the social studies and social justice. This is a chance to belong to a family atmosphere where caring teachers build relationships and take the time to truly get to know their students. HSAS best prepares students who desire a future in social studies-related fields of study or interdisciplinary studies. And importantly, college credits can be earned conveniently through Lehman College, giving students a jump-start on college, before the end of high school.