- Summer Term
- Apprentice Program
- High Peaks Adventure
- Adult Programs
- Educators Expedition
- Lake County Backpacking Trip
Frequently Asked Questions
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Is HMI a four-year high school?
HMI is not a traditional four-year school. Students attend for just one semester and then return to to their sending school. Students attend the HMI during their junior year of high school although a small number of seniors participate each semester. For high school graduates, we offer the HMI Gap.
Is HMI an accredited school?
Yes. HMI is accredited by the Association of Colorado Independent Schools, an approved accrediting body of the National Association of Independent Schools. As such, our credits will transfer to any public or private school and are accepted by colleges and universities. In addition, HMI is accredited by the Association for Experiential Education.
Is HMI a wilderness therapy or rehab program? (Answer: No!)
No! Quite to the contrary, HMI works with high-achieving, college-bound students. HMI is not a program for youth struggling with addiction, severe mental health challenges, etc.
What age students are eligible to attend the HMI Semester?
Students apply to the HMI Semester as high school sophomores or juniors in order to attend HMI the following year. Our youngest juniors arrive for the fall semester at age 15 and our oldest seniors arrive for the spring semester at age 18.
What is the acceptance rate? What makes a strong application?
Each year, we receive approximately twice as many applications as we have spots. Applications that stand out are well-written and convey a strong interest in attending HMI. We do not require or prioritize previous outdoor experience in our admissions process. No previous hiking or skiing experience is necessary–just a openness to participating in our extended wilderness expeditions. Finally, while students with strong transcripts often score highly in our selection process, you do not have to be a straight-A student to attend HMI. We do our best to evaluate applicants holistically, taking into account teacher recommendations, personal essays, and the academic transcript.
What is the cost?
For the current HMI Semester tuition and fees, visit the Dates, Tuition, and Affordability page.
Does HMI offer scholarships or financial aid?
HMI offers need-based financial aid for all programs, including the HMI Semester. We do not offer merit-based scholarships or financial aid, except to students who attend Lake County High School in Leadville. We promise to meet the full demonstrated need of every student we accept into the HMI Semester. That is to say, if accepted, and if you qualify for financial aid, we will offer you a financial aid package that makes HMI affordable for your family. Full financial aid packages can include everything up to plane tickets to/from Colorado and free outdoor gear rental.
For more information about the financial aid application process, visit the Dates, Tuition, and Affordability page.
What is the food like at HMI? What if I am a vegetarian or have other dietary restrictions?
HMI serves healthy home-cooked meals that are prepared each day in our kitchen. Meals are prepared by student cook crews that are supervised by our Kitchen Manager or other HMI staff.
For breakfast we often serve toasted bagels, scrambled eggs, pancakes, french toast, or hot cereal. Cold cereal is always an option. Lunch may be sandwiches, soup, quesadillas, tacos or chili and cornbread. A fully stocked salad bar is always available. Dinner is an opportunity for students to design a meal for the entire community. This may be something as simple as meat and veggie lasagna or as complex as a full Panamanian feast (complete with fried plantains).
While HMI programs are in the field, students cook in 3-4 person tent groups. They are provided a ration of bulk food items and spices, along with recipes for how to cook meals on a single-burner stove.
We can easily accommodate vegetarians and students with mild dietary restrictions and food allergies. Students with severe food allergy or dietary restriction should know that, while we do our best to use clean kitchen utensils and cookware to prepare food, we cannot guarantee zero cross-contamination. Our gluten-free options are made and cooked in the same facility and ovens as our regular, gluten-containing food items. We cannot guarantee (without fundamentally changing the nature of our program) that food items prepared at HMI are 100% free of gluten (or other allergens) as there is always a possibility of trace amounts crossing over from other kitchen areas.
Before applying, please be in touch with the HMI Admissions office to discuss any severe allergies or dietary restrictions.
Can you accommodate students with learning differences/disabilities?
HMI supports students with learning differences, such as ADD, ADHD, dyslexia, etc. We are a small school with a high faculty-to-student ratio (4:1) that allows us to provide differentiated instruction and individualized attention to our students. Our classes are active and student-centered; they rely heavily on reading, writing, and group projects rather than tests and exams. This type of academic environment tends to privilege a variety of learners. We also offer extra time on in-class assignments for students who need it. We do not, however, have a Learning Support Specialist on our staff. The students who are most successful at HMI are those who have learned to manage their learning differences with a high degree of independence, as students are expected to be relatively self-sufficient in completing their workload.
Students with an individualized education plan (IEP) or documented learning difference are asked to share related documentation with HMI during the enrollment process. Additionally, families are asked to contact us regarding any special test-taking requirements and, if applicable, submit a letter from The College Board so that we may make proper accommodations during the PSAT, SAT, and AP exams that are administered at HMI.
Do you accept international students? Is international student financial aid available?
Yes, HMI welcomes and accepts international students. HMI is approved by the U.S. State Department to obtain temporary F1 student visas for international students. International financial aid may be available on a case-by-case basis. For specific questions about the international student application process, please contact the Admissions Office at email@example.com or (719) 486-8200, x1.
Do you offer gap year programs? Summer programs?
HMI offers traveling gap semesters for 18-22 year-olds looking to take their learning outside of a traditional classroom setting. The fall semester in the American West and Patagonia focuses on rock climbing, wilderness adventure, and conservation. The spring semester in Patagonia emphasizes outdoor adventure and sustainable development. College credit is available.
HMI offers summer programming for middle and high school students. The High Peaks Adventure is a 2-week outdoor adventure program for middle school students focusing on backpacking, rock climbing, mountain biking, and whitewater rafting. The HMI Summer Term is a 5-week program where high school students partake in extended backpacking expeditions and place-based field studies.