Frequently Asked Questions

What's the idea behind the Integrated Global Studies School (IGSS)? IGSS is a place where we create a small learning community. We have the luxury of integrating our curriculum thematically and of allowing students great autonomy and leadership in the development of the curriculum.

What sorts of students will benefit from the Integrated Global Studies School? IGSS is designed for students who are intrinsically motivated, who will flourish in a small learning environment, who want to influence the path and content of the curriculum, who enjoy experiential, hands-on learning, who make connections in their learning across academic disciplines, and who want the opportunity to affect the world outside of New Trier in positive ways.

As a small school-within-a-school, how does IGSS benefit students? Our students benefit by interacting regularly with six faculty members and working in a small, familiar learning community. IGSS encourages active academic work by connecting learning to students' daily lives. Furthermore, in a smaller learning community like IGSS, students and staff have increased opportunities to develop and showcase their abilities in traditional academic modalities as well as through creative outlets.

How does the IGSS experience impact admission to college? We know that the IGSS student will stand out as unique and highly-prepared for a college education. Through the variety of their classroom and "outside world" experiences, the self-directed nature of their projects, and the global issues with which they wrestle, IGSS graduates present attractive and compelling student profiles for college admissions offices. The IGSS staff has consulted with and will continue to work with New Trier's Post-High School Counseling department ensuring that each IGSS student is properly represented to the colleges to which they apply. Our graduates are attending an impressive variety of colleges, ranging from large state schools to small liberal arts colleges to prestigious universities (Complete list on our home page).

Who should apply? Students who are already academically successful and students who have not yet had great academic success will both be welcome to apply, and can experience great success in IGSS. One important factor is the student's interest in the content and style of this program. IGSS is structured to allow students to push themselves as far as they desire, and to allow students to find what motivates them most and pursue those interests. We are looking for students who are intrinsically motivated and who flourish when given self-directed projects.

Are there prerequisites for admission to IGSS? To enter IGSS as juniors , students need to have completed 2 years of English, World History, at least one year of Science, two years of Math, and 2 years of a Modern or Classical Language by the beginning of their junior year.

There will occasionally be openings in IGSS for seniors. These students need to have completed World History, United States History, three years of English, two years of math, and two years of Science including Biology by the beginning of their senior year.

When does IGSS meet? Where? IGSS currently meets 6th through 8th periods every day on the Winnetka campus. Our classrooms are on the 3 rd floor in the new wing of New Trier (rooms W322, W324, and W326).

Are there New Trier programs or courses in which IGSS students are not able to participate? IGSS does not conflict with any after-school activities, or Early Bird or Summer School classes. There will be classes, primarily those offered only once a day, in which IGSS students will not be able to enroll. All IGSS students are encouraged to enroll or continue enrollment in Spanish or Chinese, which will allow them to continue these language sequences throughout their high school career. Students studying other languages can still be a part of IGSS, but may encounter scheduling conflicts with MCL classes only offered during IGSS periods. IGSS students may be enrolled in no fewer than four and no more than six majors at a time at New Trier.

How many students are involved in IGSS? The amount of students fluctuates. Typically, there are approximately 65 students in the program.

What subjects do students complete within IGSS? Juniors and seniors receive full credit for English, Social Studies, and Art. Senior IGSS fulfills the Civics requirement as well.

What are the experiential activities like? Students are encouraged to find authentic experiences that connect with their IGSS coursework. These might be internships, site visits, field studies, or service projects. The Integrated Global Studies School will include an experiential learning component for all students.

Do students stay in IGSS once they are enrolled? While individual student needs and learning paths will change, students are enrolled in IGSS with the assumption that they will continue from junior to senior year. We believe this continuity is key to the school's vitality as a small learning community, as older IGSS "veterans" will impart some of the most valuable lessons of the School to newer IGSS students.

Will IGSS students be with the same peer group all the time? No. Students meet and learn in groups that vary from day to day. Juniors and seniors will be mixed every day, and we do not divide students based on level placement.

How are Special Education services handled in IGSS? Students with Special Education services may be part of IGSS, but will need to access those services outside of the IGSS daily schedule. We believe that the small nature of IGSS will facilitate students of all sorts finding meaningful faculty and staff assistance.

How does the transcript for an IGSS student differ from that of another student? Classes taken in IGSS are listed just as any other class on the student's New Trier transcript. IGSS students receive an additional Student Profile and a transcript addendum, a series of lengthy qualitative assessments written by IGSS staff in conjunction with the student.

Are letter grades assigned in IGSS? Students complete IGSS classes for High Honors (4) or College-Prep (9) credit. All students receive a lengthy written evaluation of their work in each class. Students and parents receive frequent substantive feedback and indication of their progress from the IGSS staff. Students have the option of translating narrative assessments into letter grades for the purpose of their college transcript. Students who opt not to take letter grades will see a "++" on their NT transcripts next to their IGSS classes.

How might the IGSS experience compare to interdisciplinary programs like English-History or American Studies? While EH and AS also coordinate and at times integrate the work of several disciplines, the continuity of three dedicated periods and of the multi-year program enhance the integrity of this small school, and encourage the development of significant relationships. The extended period of time and diverse group of faculty involved in IGSS allows for the emergence of a vibrant, bonded learning community that is unique at New Trier.

How does a student become part of IGSS? Students apply for IGSS before their registration for Junior or Senior year. IGSS staff select students based on teacher recommendation, the student's application, and personal interview.

How do the annual IGSS themes work? Each year, the Integrated Global Studies School is guided by a conceptual theme. Past themes include "Our Relationship with the Planet", "Justice on this Planet", and "Prisoners of Perception." The themes guide curriculum choices, elective offerings, and experiential activities for teachers and students of each year group. Each year's theme will be created through collaboration of the entire school, (juniors, seniors, teachers, and IGSS Leadership Corps) during the spring.

Will the relationship between teachers and students be different in IGSS? While all teachers at New Trier serve as facilitators of student learning, IGSS teachers have the opportunity to spend much more time with their students. We spend three periods a day with our students, and the IGSS senior teachers have the opportunity to work with the juniors for an entire year before they are IGSS seniors. Built into our program are many opportunities for one-on-one mentorship, bonding, and individual feedback.

Do similar small learning communities exist in other high schools? Many local schools offer similar interdisciplinary programs, and New Trier representatives have studied and visited nationally-recognized small schools. We are one of the few to offer this small school experience within the structure of an established large school.

How does IGSS take advantage of technology? Like all New Trier students, all IGSS students have iPads. Because of this, we have our students utilize technology in as many ways as we can think of: they create movies, podcasts, websites, blogs, eBooks, and electric journals. In IGSS, technology is a tool used to enhance student creativity and engagement.