I attended RLC in the 90's, for grades 9-13 (OAC) and had a wonderful experience. The dorm experience was new to me, but I made lifelong friends with both the students and the houseparents. The small class sizes are an incredible environment for learning, and branching out beyond the curriculum. The teachers I had were understanding, patient, inspiring and dedicated. The location of the school couldn't be more beautiful, on the shores of Lake Rosseau, and it is far enough off the beaten path that there are not many opportunities to "get into trouble". Outtrips were a great bonding experience as well. Each year we did a different trip at the beginning of the year, with a small group of students, and teachers, all of whom were at different skill levels, and it was great! Team work and beautiful scenery. We did Algonquin, Killarney, Tobermory, Sea Kayaking the French River etc., RLC prepared the students for their futures, I believe. Students should expect an environment that promotes learning, and student interaction, and healthy living.
I had some good administration at the school. Our headmaster, was firm, but friendly, our head of academics was amazing, and always encouraged us to push ourselves to achieve greater things, The administration was respected by the majority of the student body. I am sure that the administration respected the students, as there was never any evidence otherwise. Though some disciplinary issues were not necessarily dealt with "fairly" by today's standards, those incidents were learning experiences for the school in general, and they did improve/change policies, pertaining to zero tolerance, expulsion and re-admittance and "probation." I think the responses by administration to problems varied a bit, depending on who the problem was handled by, in a good way, and also in a way that was communicated well with parents/guardians. My parents never complained about a lack of communication.
The teachers were fantastic, engaging, both formal and informal and were quite knowledgeable. I had three english teachers during my time at the school, all of whom were able to make Shakespeare fun, poetry interesting, and really encouraged the students to explore literature outside of the curriculum requirements as well. My 10th grade history teacher, for a unit on archaeology, buried things on campus in a designated area and actually taught us proper technique for a dig! It was amazing! Good communication by the teachers, explaining content, and why it was important, great at providing constructive feedback, and also making time for extra assistance if required. We had more frequent academic monitoring than public school systems, and as such, the teachers were aware "much" sooner if we were not understanding or struggling in any way, and would immediately assist in correcting that, usually with extra help, student tutoring or extra study time.
During my years of attendance, the only weakness I can really attribute to RLC is that there were very few specialized programs available, such as music or dramatics, or technical programs such as drafting. Though with such a small school, there was still many varieties of academics, primarily geared towards university education requirements. The school greatly encouraged academic achievement, and fostered an environment of learning that was perpetuated outside of the classroom. Study habits are a requirement at RLC, and those habits were a great help at post secondary. We were required to study for a minimum of two (2) hours each weeknight, and also had Saturday morning classes. The only way you could skip study in the evenings was to maintain an over 80% average, which is really a great incentive. Students were a "bit" competitive academically, but mostly it was very good-natured. I felt more challenged and supported at RLC than any other school. One of the reasons I was not doing well in the public system was that I was "bored", and RLC encouraged us to learn and expand, and think outside the box, and supported that. It was wonderful to be able to branch out and expand on the curriculum (because with small classes, we were usually done the curriculum well before the end of the term).
Having the ability to canoe/sail/ cross country ski etc is quite great. We had a mandatory sports program during my attendance at Rosseau Lake College, that required the students to join one sport per term. There was a "generalized" Fall/Winter/Spring "Outdoor Program" that usually incorporated a variety of activities for those students that did not want to play a team sport. Team sports in the 90's were Field Hockey, Volleyball and Soccer for the girls, and Soccer, Rugby, Basketball and Hockey for the boys (though we had a few girls play for the boys team). Mandatory activities was actually quite beneficial, both from a socialization standpoint, as well as promoting activity and "healthy living". Our sports teams were quite competitive, despite being quite small, and usually competed in both the jurisdictional area (Muskoka/Parry Sound) in addition to the private school circuit. Students do absolutely receive well rounded experiences at RLC.
During my years of attendance, there were under 120 students at RLC. This was awesome, as you got to know everyone quite well, class sizes were smaller etc. The general atmosphere was quite friendly and inclusive, and all students participated avidly in our school spirit events. I don't think we really had "typical" students, as we had quite a high diversity of both cultures, languages and backgrounds. The diversity at the school was amazing, we had students from Germany, Mexico, Japan, China, Philippines, Korea, Barbados, Native Canadians and from across Canada. I don't recall a single instance where socio-economic background was ever discussed, nor made a difference in student interactions. For the most part, all the students got along, and socialized with most everyone at some time or another. There are the standard highschool age groupings, that revolve of course around social interactions, sports teams, personalities etc. as well as "Sr. students and Jr. students". The friends I made at RLC are still my friends now.
I hated parts of my first year, as I started part-way through the year and felt very awkward, and like I didn't belong. Some of that was coming partway through the year, where existing friendships are already established, but I got through it, and chose to go back, and loved it for the rest of my duration of high school! Sometimes roommates can be difficult, because in high school you're not mature enough to properly deal with difficult situations and personality conflicts, and sharing a room with someone sometimes has to be handled "delicately". Most students were happy, to my knowledge, some were stressed, but I think that is pretty normal for high school, with worries of fitting in, image, academics, athletics etc., that's how and when we learn to effectively manage stress and take those lessons forward into adulthood. Most students were passionate about something... of varied interests.
Parents were involved, and could always choose to be more involved, we always roped a few into events like the "out-trips", and parents can sit on the parent board/committee. Alumni communications, I keep in touch with quite a few, and have since graduating, although on a much more informal basis than through the alumni association. There are groups of us that get together regularly that will frequently plan larger events or meetings, or urge others to come to existing events. I am involved in our new alumni association, which I am very excited about, as it is really promoting alumni contact, mentoring and communication, which I agree should be a priority!
Located in the village of Rosseau, there are very few "off campus" options, other than the General Store for the students. The village is quite small, and quite a distance from the next major town/city. The school has a beautiful campus and enough activities that students are kept busy without having to go anywhere. The location/quiet may be a bit of a culture shock to city based students, but, hopefully they'll love it even though there isn't a Starbucks on the corner.
I do not know the current standards for admission. The admission standards during my attendance were not stressful, I do not recall any discussions, though my parents may have provided my transcripts. I was skipping class and failing at my regional highschool, and RLC still accepted me, and helped me with focus and work completion, and by the time I graduated, I received the Governor Generals Silver medal for Academic Achievement.
University applications/programs and processes were reviewed with the students, and all applications were submitted on time, and many of us received early acceptance to our first choice universities. The only part that RLC does not prepare you for at university is size. It is such a small school that it was a bit of a shock to experience really how "big" university was.