School for Advanced Studies' Demanding Program Puts College in Reach For Students

They like to call the School for Advanced Studies the Dream Factory, because it puts the best colleges in reach of kids who come from low-income families.

SAS has five campuses, and no freshmen or sophomores. Every student transfers in for junior year, knowing exactly what they're getting into.

"This is a very demanding program, it really takes a lot of maturity on their part, not only the academic ability but also the ability for them to be able to leave their known surroundings and come into a program that's going to challenge them," explained principal Omar Monteagudo.

SAS has five campuses, all located inside Miami-Dade College campuses, spread all over the county. The school is hot right now. US News and World Report ranked it 26th best high school in the nation. The ranking is based on several criteria, including AP test scores, graduation rate, and college matriculation rate.

At SAS, every student graduates, and they all graduate with an AA degree from Miami-Dade College as well as a high school diploma.

"Depending on the university they transfer to, they have cut 50% of their undergraduate education so in essence, SAS represents a two-year scholarship," said Monteagudo.

That's potentially a huge savings for any family, but it takes a special kid to go to SAS, one who's willing to forego junior and senior year at his or her current high school in favor of taking only AP and college classes.

The ones who choose SAS have their eyes on the top universities. This year SAS is sending graduates to every Ivy League school as well as MIT, the University of Chicago, and most of the state universities in Florida.

"As an educator, these are the kinds of students that you want a classful of, these are the kind of students that you come to work, and you're like, I'm blessed, I'm in academic heaven, I'm in nirvana right now," said counselor and college advisor Eddie Morales.

"Our students are so hard-working, they're always willing to do the very difficult level of work we assign them, they always want to get ahead," said AP Language teacher, Adrienne Pedroso.

But it's not just academics here. The SAS kids form strong bonds from being in the same, unique program together.

"We are helping to mold humanitarians and individuals that are gonna be change agents in society," Monteagudo said.

One measure of that is that over the past three years, SAS leads all schools in Miami-Dade County in Silver Knight winners. The Silver Knight is an award based largely on community service.

So SAS isn't for everyone. Only driven, brilliant students need apply.

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