Frequently Asked Questions

Listed here are several questions students and parents often ask about our different study programs.

What is unique about the Castle Rock programs?
How does CRI differ from other study abroad programs?
Will my home college recognize credit from CRI?
How much does it cost?
Can I use my financial aid to help pay for CRI?
How do I apply?
Who is eligible to apply?
Can recent high school graduates apply?
What is the application deadline?
How many students are enrolled each session?
How competitive is the admission process?
Where do the students live?
What sort of outdoor activities are part of the program?
What if I don't have any outdoor adventure experience?
What kind of equipment would I need?
What kind of academic courses would I take?
How hard are the courses?
Who are the professors who teach the courses?
Do you have a summer session?
How can I find out more about the Castle Rock Institute?
What's the best thing about Castle Rock?

What is unique about the Castle Rock programs ?

The Castle Rock Institute programs integrate several mutually enhancing components-- regular outdoor adventure activity, off-campus small-group living, interdisciplinary courses in the Humanities, and professor-led international study (to Australia or New Zealand). With its emphasis on the outdoors and commitment to high-level academic instruction, it is the only school in the United States offering this sort of integrated (domestic and study abroad) educational experience.

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How does CRI differ from other study abroad programs ?

Several things distinguish CRI from other study abroad programs. First, most of your time abroad (in Australia or New Zealand) is spent in remote areas of the country and not on a college campus in a city. Secondly, the program is led by professors who have organized the academic and experiential components of the trip, and finally, outdoor adventure activity is an integral part of the expedition. For more information about the CRI international study abroad program please click here.

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Will my home college recognize credit from CRI ?

When you enroll at the Institute you will take four courses (for a total of 16 semester credits) in the Humanities that have been approved and accredited by Brevard College. Enrolling at CRI is essentially transferring to Brevard College for a semester, a 4-year liberal arts college accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. After completing the program, you will receive an official transcript from the College indicating your grades for the semester. Many schools accept transfer credit (for example from a study abroad program) on a case by case basis, so the final decision regarding credit rests with your home institution. Nevertheless, most students will receive 4 semester credit hours in each of the following 4 subjects: Religious Studies, Philosophy, English, and Art. Over 50 colleges and universities have accepted transfer credit from the Castle Rock Institute.

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How much does it cost ?

The comprehensive fee for a semester covers the costs of instruction, room and board, outdoor equipment and trips, ground transportation, and books. In other words, it covers everything you will need except personal expenses and transportation to Brevard, N.C. The estimated fee for the 2005-2006 Thematic Humanities programs is $13250. The fee for the Leadership programs is $14250, and the fee for the international Environmental Studies programs is $15500 (excluding international airfare).

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Can I use my financial aid to help pay for CRI ?

Yes, many colleges and universities allow their students to transfer all or some of their financial aid to off-campus or study abroad semester programs. For example, several forms of federal financial aid ordinarily apply. Your financial aid office can tell you how much aid you can devote to a semester at the Castle Rock Institute. Finally, the Institute awards a limited number of tuition grants and loans each semester. Click here for more info about the different forms of financial aid available.

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How do I apply ?

Contact us for an application form. Fill it out and return it along with a short writing sample, a letter of recommendation, and an official transcript from your registrar.

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Who is eligible to apply ?

If you are a college-aged student who has completed high school, then you are eligible to enroll at Castle Rock. There are no academic prerequisites for enrollment, and you can be majoring or planning to major in any subject. Expressing yourself in written form is central to work at the Institute. Therefore, it is helpful to complete the "English composition requirement" (or its equivalent) at your home college or university before applying.

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Can recent high school graduates apply ?

Yes. Many of our programs have included students who have recently graduated from high school but are taking time off (a "gap year" semester or interim semester) before attending college. These are students who selected Castle Rock because they wanted something more personal and meaningful than what ordinary college life provides, but also who were ready and excited for the challenges of the Castle Rock program.

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What is the application deadline ?

The Castle Rock Institute operates a rolling admissions policy. Consequently, it is never too late to apply, but since sessions can fill up quickly, it is wise to apply well in advance of the particular semester you want to enroll. Our summer adventure programs do have an application deadline.

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How many students are enrolled each session ?

Currently, each of the three Castle Rock semester programs can accommodate up to two groups of 8-12 students. When multiple groups enroll, they operate separately thereby ensuring a group size optimal for seminar-style classwork and outdoor activities.

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How competitive is the admission process ?

While the spaces available for each session are limited, most qualified students who apply early are accepted. Sessions do fill up, but at times we have cancellations, and we are able to admit students at the last minute.

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Where do the students live ?

The Institute is housed in a comfortable lodge surrounded by 200 acres of private forest in the mountains of western North Carolina. With a view of the mountains, a kitchen, dining and computer facilities, the lodge includes four large student bedrooms, each with a bathroom, lofts, and desks. This lodge serves as the home base for the Institute's academic and wilderness activities. When traveling overseas, accommodations range from camping, to hostels, to hotels.

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What sort of outdoor activities are part of the program ?

Each semester session we take several overnight backpacking trips, multi-day rock climbing expeditions, and day-long mountain biking tours. We also spend time paddling (in canoes, rafts, and kayaks) on local lakes and white water rivers. In addition, there are frequent opportunities for short day hikes, group challenge activities, and ropes-course events.

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What if I don't have any outdoor adventure experience ?

All of the Institute's outdoor adventure activities are designed to accommodate a variety of skills and experience. Even if you've never rock climbed, for example, we will provide you with the equipment, instructors and natural setting necessary to learn the basics. On the other hand, the program will provide plenty of challenges, even if you are especially experienced in a particular adventure activity. Our leadership program is specifically designed for more advanced outdoor activity enthusiasts.

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What kind of equipment would I need ?

The Institute will provide everything you need except personal gear such as clothing, a sleeping bag, and a good pair of hiking boots. For example, we will furnish tents, cooking equipment, backpacks, mountain bikes, various boats and river gear, climbing equipment, and so forth.

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What kind of academic courses would I take ?

Each Institute program conducts four courses: one in Religious Studies, one in Philosophy, another in Literature, and another in Studio Art. All four courses, however, focus on a common theme, issue, or idea drawn from the Humanities. "Nature" is the theme for the international study abroad program, and "leadership" (of course!) is the theme for the Leadership program. The theme for the domestic humanities program varies annually.

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How hard are the courses ?

Courses at the Castle Rock Institute are 300-level, and are intended for sophomores and juniors in college. They aim to provide a theme-based introduction to the four academic disciplines represented, and do not have prerequisites. At the same time, they include regular reading assignments, written work (e.g., a personal journal, short essays, and papers), class presentations, and exams.

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Who are the professors who teach the courses ?

The courses are taught by "Institute Senior Fellows." These are professors from other colleges and universities who apply to spend time at Castle Rock. Each has teaching experience and holds a Ph.D. (or terminal degree) in the discipline they teach. With no more than twelve students and always at least four professors, there is a 3:1 student to faculty ratio. The Institute also hires local wilderness guides and instructors. For more information about our staff, visit our staff page.

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Do you have a summer session ?

Yes, we offer two 30-day summer sessions held each year, one beginning in June and the other in mid July. If you are interested in attending a summer session of CRI, please click here.

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How can I find out more about the Castle Rock Institute ?

The best way is to speak with us by phone, and we'll be able answer all your questions. To help with this, you can simply click here, enter your phone number, and we'll give you a call immediately (even after business hours).

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Otherwise feel free to contact us at any time. We'll be happy to help.

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What's the best thing about Castle Rock ?

A semester at Castle Rock is amazingly educational, in the best sense of the word. It's incredibly challenging (physically, personally, and intellectually), but also rewarding and fun. Castle Rock replaces the ordinarily fragmented experience of normal college life with something meaningful, with something balanced and whole. Read what past students have said about the program and you'll see why.

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