Attendance-- Why is it so strict?
Mandatory Attendance-3-Day Policy
Odyssey is an intense summer program where a large amount of material is covered each day. When a scholar misses class-time, they are affecting their group’s productivity in addition to their own. Also, all expenses to attend the program are covered by our donors. As such, Odyssey is contractually obligated to report attendance to grants or related parties. Plenty of research shows poor school attendance negatively affects a scholar’s ability to perform academically. The same holds true for Odyssey’s intense academic enrichment environment–which is project-based by design. Odyssey expects scholars to take attendance as seriously as their school’s attendance policy.
If a child arrives late or is picked up early, that this time of absence will be added up and tallied as part of my child’s overall absences. Excessive tardiness or early pick ups will contribute to a child’s overall attendance and is, therefore, an important piece of a child’s participation that can affect a child’s good standing in the program. To excuse an absence, an authorized doctor’s note in the event my child is sick and unable to attend will be expected. Absences due to an illness that is not followed up with a doctor’s note cannot be excused. Doctors appointments, vacations, or other programs that conflict with Odyssey’s summer dates, should be scheduled around the scholar’s academic day.
Lastly, a crucial point: a child must successfully complete the entire program in order to be invited back with priority placement for subsequent summers. If a child leaves during the program to participate in vacations, other programs that conflict with Odyssey’s summer dates, or have otherwise anticipated participating in other programs/activities that may put a child’s good standing in jeopardy.
Visit our Admission Page for detailed program dates and deadlines.
How do I sign up my child?
All students will need to complete an online enrollment application — whether they are returning or new. Odyssey does not automatically re-enroll any student for any reason. Scholars must express interest year after year. However, returning scholars will experience a longer enrollment period with priority placement. All participants will also need to submit their most recent report card and student ID number. New students are required to submit one New Student Recommendation Form and a short essay (appropriate for each age group). Odyssey highly recommends having these additional documents prepared BEFORE the application process is started.
Visit our Admission Page for detailed application information and deadlines.
How much does the Odyssey program cost?
Odyssey’s applications are always free to fill out. Accepted or returning Odyssey scholars are charged a $35 registration/acceptance fee for each student accepted into the program annually. The actual cost per student, including transportation and meals, is significant — nearly $3,000. These expenses are covered by the generous donations and contributions of local foundations, businesses, and individuals; the Atlantic Public Schools; and The Westminster Schools. In order to receive this massive scholarship, applicants must fill out an anonymous demographics questionnaire while filling out their online application.
Fees--How do they work?
Odyssey’s applications are always free to fill out.
NEW OR FIRST TIME APPLICANTS: Applicants do not submit any payment unless they have been accepted into the program. Odyssey’s application form asks each applicant, regardless of status, how they would like to submit their payment–in one (1) or two (2) installments. This email to submit payment will only be sent to the primary contact if the student is selected to participate. New scholars will have more than a month (mid-March through April) to submit their $35.00 acceptance fee. This fee may increase to $50.00 per applicant in the final weeks leading up to the program (typically in May) in order to encourage new scholars to accept their invitations, solidify the final rosters, and give wait-listed scholars the opportunity to fill any spaces available.
RETURNING SCHOLARS: Any scholar wishing to return must complete an online form and submit their payment BEFORE the deadline. Odyssey automatically invites back successful scholars. We cannot auto-enroll any scholar without parental consent. Odyssey cannot fill out applications or enrollment forms on a family’s behalf for any reason. Returning scholars receive extended enrollment periods (mid-October to mid-February) every year. The enrollment form will not send the link to pay until the form has been completed AND submitted. The payment link will then be emailed to the primary contact listed on the form and will include the option chosen by the guardian to pay in one (1) or two (2) installments. To pay in two installments, the first half will be withdrawn the same day and the second installment is auto-withdrawn exactly one month later.
Odyssey is dedicated to ensuring all who wish to participate, have the opportunity to do so. If financial difficulties become a concern, we highly encourage families to contact the office BEFORE the deadline. Proactive families who contact us before the deadline can typically avoid the late fee.
What can Odyssey do for my child?
Odyssey is proven to boost your child’s reading, writing, and math scores in just one summer’s program. Your child will head back to school in the fall ahead of the game and have you questioning “what is summer slide?” Our Odyssey scholars regularly check back in with us during their school year to express their gratitude for “getting ahead” as they discover their Odyssey instructors have already introduced them to topics and coursework their peers have not yet seen.
Too often, highly-motived students begin to lose their natural luster for learning while in traditional classroom settings. At Odyssey, scholars take charge of their own learning potential and engage in a cross-disciplinary curriculum that reinvigorates a child’s natural ability to learn. Scholars learn how robotics is related to art, math, and science. Running for elected office is about science, civics, speech, and innovation. Rather than segmenting a child’s learning, scholars are encouraged to integrate learning from across all their classes to solve real-world problems.
How long does the Odyssey program last?
Each week, for all grade levels, consists of five activity-filled days (Monday-Friday) beginning at 8:30 AM.
- Odyssey grades 1-6 is a six-week program dismissed at 4:45 PM
- Rising 6th graders participate in Tom’s Club which is a STEAM-centered “after-school” program from 2:45PM-4:45PM
- Odyssey grades 7-8 is a six-week program dismissed at 2:45 PM
- Odyssey grades 9-11 runs for five weeks dismissed at 2:45 PM
- Odyssey’s Rising Senior program is four weeks in length dismissed at 2:45 PM
- Seniors participate in a 3-day out-of-state college tour (See more in the FAQ “What is the overnight Senior Trip?”)
Important Note: Odyssey scholars and their families must make a commitment to attending Odyssey daily. Students cannot miss more than 3 days of the program, regardless of whether or not the absences are excused. This dedication helps students reach their full potential and gain the most from the Odyssey summer program. It also ensures scholars do not burden members of their project-based groups, who will have to pick up the slack. If you know that you cannot participate in the entire program, please do not submit an application. Scholars who do not complete the program, for any reason, cannot reapply.
How long has Odyssey been around?
Founded in 2001, Odyssey has been serving the Atlanta-area for more than a decade. We are an official partner of Atlanta Public Schools and The Westminster Schools, and a member of the National Partnership for Educational Access.
Odyssey is a certified 501(c)3 and all donations are tax deductible.
Are there other Odyssey locations?
Odyssey is hosted on The Westminster Schools campus in Buckhead. While “Odyssey” is a common name, we do not have any other locations at this time.
How do the scholars get to and from The Westminster Schools?
Rising Grades 1-6: Odyssey contracts yellow school buses solely for Odyssey scholars in rising grades 1-6. Buses will pick up the younger Odyssey students at designated elementary schools within the metro-Atlanta area. Odyssey tries to reach the broadest area within the Perimeter as possible. We cannot, however, guarantee any particular school will be a designated pick up location, and Odyssey will not establish these locations until spring before each program.
Rising Grades 7-12: Middle and high school students will receive weekly MARTA cards to get to the Arts Center MARTA Station and then take a yellow school bus provided by Odyssey to The Westminster Schools. Odyssey has designated staff members every day to meet students each morning at the ARTS MARTA station and dismiss them at the end of each day.
Other options: Parents may also drop off/pick up their students on campus, and older students with a valid license are allowed to drive themselves. Odyssey does not authorize Uber/Lyft/taxi ride for students. Commissioning such a ride is not condoned by Odyssey or Westminster and will be carried out at the parent or guardian’s own risk.
What if my child didn’t complete a year, but wants to re-apply?
A scholar that did not successfully complete a summer at Odyssey, or skipped a summer, is welcome to re-apply but must re-apply as a NEW student. The student will need to be accepted on their own merit, in the same pool as other new applicants. For example, a student who missed more than three days and therefore did not successfully the program may reapply in a subsequent year, but will need to re-apply as a NEW student selecting the New Student Application. You may use the “Notes” section of the application to express your interest in returning or any other reason you may be applying as a new applicant.
Please keep in mind that a student who was dismissed for poor behavior or disciplinary charges may not re-apply. Offenses such as stealing, bullying, fighting, property damage, or sexual harassment are grounds for expulsion, and a student who engages in said activities cannot return to Odyssey. Students who have been suspended at their own schools must indicate such on their application. Odyssey does not discriminate against students who have been suspended and have selected successful scholars with suspensions on their records. However, the selection committee will weigh the student’s overall ability to learn from his or her mistakes.
I have a RETURNING student and a NEW student. What do I do?
Odyssey gives priority placement to returning students. As long as a student successfully completes the Return Student Enrollment Application and returns it to Odyssey with payment by the posted deadline, they will be enrolled into the program.
New Students need to ensure they are diligently completing the application process and returning it with the necessary supporting documents by the deadline in order to be considered.
Having a sibling that is already a confirmed participant of Odyssey, does not constitute special treatment or priority placement within the program. Each student must be admitted into Odyssey on their own merit. For many Odyssey families, this means applying several years in a row before all members gain acceptance. However, Odyssey will take siblings into account when pulling from the waiting list. Meaning: if a child of a household is already attending, Odyssey will likely pull a sibling off the waiting list in the event last-minute spaces are being filled. The rationale being that the family has already committed to the program schedule.
How are students chosen to participate in Odyssey’s program?
Admission is based on a variety of criteria. Each applicant’s ENTIRE application will be thoroughly reviewed, including anything in the “Notes” section of the application.
The typical Odyssey scholar makes primarily B’s and C’s (with a few exceptions). Our goal is to give students the extra help in the summer months so they can excel in the coming school year and improve their chances for college acceptance. These students enjoy being challenged and are goal-oriented; they enjoy extracurricular activities and the ability to learn new skills.
Odyssey is committed to serving students from low-performing or “failing schools,” as identified by The Governor’s Office of Student Achievement Chronically Failing Schools List. Odyssey also actively recruits students who qualify for free or reduced lunch and students who will become first-generation scholars. The selection committee looks closely at the student’s recommendations as well as at the student application, income level, “home” school, and report card — including teacher remarks.
As Odyssey is a thematic, project-based program, students must also work well in groups. Students need to be able to articulately express themselves in their application and a short essay. Essays, or other topics questioned on the application, must be the applicant’s own thoughts and ideas. Essay questions, or another creative medium, are age-appropriate for their grade level. Younger students (R1st-R3rd) may dictate their thoughts to an adult or guardian who is helping in completing the online application.
What kind of grades or GPA does Odyssey expect?
Odyssey looks for the applicant who falls in the “middle-third” of their class (or make predominately B’s and C’s). This is largely because Odyssey serves more than 120 schools each summer each of which has their own weighted grading scale. A straight-A applicant applying from one school, for example, may not be a straight-A student at another school. Odyssey is more likely to look at an applicant’s report card for things such as attendance, instructor notes, behavioral issues, or participation concerns.
Are the odds in my favor for selection?
Competition for Odyssey has been growing significantly over the past 4 years. Overall, the acceptance rate is typically 1 in every 10 applicants. There are typically 250+ students on the waiting-list each summer.
Odyssey Elementary fills quickly and experiences long waiting-lists. Odyssey caps class sizes to ensure scholars have a positive and safe experience while in the program. While these numbers tend to fluctuate slightly, Odyssey youngest classes are typically between 15-36 scholars.
Odyssey Middle School has just over 100 participants each summer, grades 6-8. Class sizes fluctuate between 36-42 scholars.
Odyssey High School typically experiences the most “ease” in the selection process. However, Odyssey will not fill a class to capacity (between 36-42 scholars) if we do not have qualified applicants to fill spaces. Tell the selection committee why advancing your education or being exposed to new career fields is important to you. Odyssey is proud of the 100% high school graduation rates from our Odyssey alumni. All our scholars complete high school on time and are accepted into at least one college or university of their choice.
What if my child has an IEP or failing grades?
Odyssey is an intense, academically-minded 6-week program (5-weeks for Odyssey High). Due to the fast-past curriculum design, Odyssey is unable to slow the pace of learning for individual students. Each and every student will receive one-on-one instruction time and countless hours of peer-focused project-based work.
If you think your child could benefit from this particular learning environment, simply explain your child’s academic concern to the selection committee in the “Notes” section of the application. Our selection committee may follow up with you to get a better idea of individual needs. Due to Odyssey’s unique academic style, scholars with IEPs and strong academic potential often excel in their academic work while at Odyssey. For many, it is the first time they are allowed to learn through daily group connectivity, large-scale projects, and supportive classroom lessons. Odyssey does not discriminate against applicants with IEPs or failing grades.
Can an applicant apply from any school?
Odyssey recruits students from all over the Atlanta area, with some scholars making the daily commute all the way from Henry County. While the selection committee will give precedent to scholars applying from low-income, low-performing, or “failing” schools, applicants may apply from any Atlanta-area school. Keep in mind that transportation is only available within the Perimeter.
HOWEVER, Odyssey STRONGLY recommends that applicants with a commute of longer than 30 minutes tell us in their application how they plan to transport themselves to and from the program daily.
Homeschooled applicants are also welcome to apply.
When will I know if I'm selected?
All applicants will be notified of their status by mid-March. In rare cases, applicants may receive correspondence from the selection committee as early as the end of February. We highly encourage the applicant to continue to check their email for updates or contact Carissa Engelbert for recruitment questions. Odyssey promises to inform students of their status as early as they are available to allow for students to make appropriate summer plans.
What to expect if you're placed on the waiting-list?
First of all, congratulations! Odyssey applicants who receive “wait-listed” status have WONDERFUL applications worthy of acceptance and Odyssey simply ran out of space. Please know that Odyssey’s selection committee greatly values your work and thinks you will be a wonderful addition to the program.
Odyssey will continue to pull from the waiting list up until the THIRD (3rd) day of the summer program. Odyssey cannot admit any new scholars past the third day. Odyssey will email wait-listed applicants first and only make follow-up calls if an email has not been responded to within a reasonable amount of time (72 hours).
Odyssey asks applicants or guardians alike not to contact the office about their position on the waiting list. Odyssey does not “rank” wait-listed applicants. Each empty space will be filled by an applicant similar to the individual who declined their invitation.
All of Odyssey’s applicants on the waiting-list will be emailed when applications for the following year become available. We highly encourage all waitlisted applicants to submit another application the following year.
What is the overnight Senior Trip?
As part of their summer curriculum, Odyssey’s Seniors take an all-expense paid, out-of-state college tour trip to 5-7 colleges and universities along the East Coast. These tours are not determined until the spring before the program but have historically included: Tennessee State University, Vanderbilt University, Fisk University, Savannah State University, Austin Peay State University, Belmont University, and many many more. These are in addition to the local colleges and universities visited during day-trips. Scholars may visit nearly a dozen colleges and universities in their 4 weeks with Odyssey.
Odyssey’s Seniors will ride a charter bus to the out-of-state location. They will be expected to meet on campus the day of departure around 6:30 AM and will return after dark on the final day. Odyssey’s High School Director carefully selects several colleges or universities to tour during this trip, but will also ensure fun-filled activities along the way. Odyssey will cover all necessary costs of this trip including meals. Scholars will stay in dorm rooms to experience real-world expectations of college life and have countless opportunities to converse with current students, admissions representatives, and more.
This senior trip is required for scholars. Missing the trip will count toward a scholar’s overall attendance.
Is Odyssey a year-round program?
At this time, Odyssey’s core programming occurs over 6 weeks in the summer.
Odyssey offers Rising Seniors the opportunity to partner with a college-prep mentor. Odyssey’s mentors are Atlanta-professionals from all walks of life. Odyssey Seniors have access to their mentor’s expertise throughout the school year for additional support while preparing their college applications.
Multiple members of my household are applying---What should I expect?
Odyssey maintains that each scholar gains admittance based on their own merit. This is why each student submits an individual application regardless of how many applicants are applying from the same household. Odyssey does not offer a precedent to any scholar for any reason–regardless if they already have members of their household attending. It is not uncommon for a family to applying several years in a row to gain admittance for each member of their household.
Odyssey DOES keep in mind family members when pulling from the waiting list, however. If one member of the family is already attending, Odyssey will keep their siblings in mind when filling any open spaces as the family has already committed to the program and can more easily accommodate last-minute notifications of available spaces.
One recommendation submission is a required piece of a completed application. Recommendation requests are sent through the Admissions system, Odyssey cannot accept recommendation letters or other forms of outside recommendations. The individual completing a student’s recommendation will be asked to submit their opinion on several factors and leave their comments at the bottom of the form.
Odyssey does not send applications that are missing recommendations to the selection committee. Recommendations will be accepted to up ten (10) days past the deadline. Out of fairness to students who have been applying since November, we cannot extend this deadline for any reason. If recommenders have any concerns about the process, they must contact Odyssey main office before the deadline to resolve.
Acceptable Recommendations: An acceptable recommendation comes from an individual within the Atlanta community who has known the applicant for at least one year. Odyssey loves reading recommendations from coaches, teachers, administrators, public leaders, youth leaders, music instructors, and more. Chose an individual who can speak to the applicant’s work ethic, ability to work in groups, and has observed the applicant’s accomplishments.