How Summit Learning Set Me Up for Success in School and Life

My high school experience at Summit Preparatory Charter High School (in Redwood City, California) is coming to an imminent end with my graduation just two months away. Having spent four years immersed in the Summit Learning personalized approach to teaching and learning, I feel confident in knowing that I gained experience that will set me up for success in school and whatever future endeavors I choose to embrace.

The past few months have been a whirlwind of preparing for life after high school. I not only committed to college, but I also embarked on a life-changing journey abroad motivated by an Expeditions class (immersive elective course) at Summit Prep. As I reflect back on the last few months, I recognize that my choices have been influenced by the skills and habits I’ve learned at Summit. 

A Major Milestone in My Journey to College

I started this blog series at the beginning of the school year to chronicle my journey to college. I’m ecstatic to announce that after all of the applying and waiting, I have officially committed to my top school: San Diego State University!

I will enroll this fall as a Jewish Studies major, and I also plan on exploring classes that align with my interests in business and philosophy. One of the main reasons I chose  San Diego State is the flexibility the school offers within its “Interdisciplinary Studies” major, which is essentially a make-your-own-major route. What this means is that a student can make a plan with their academic counselor and combine classes from different majors, creating a personalized degree. This appealed to me because I am not 100% set on what career path I would like to go down, and I really like the idea of not being stuck in one specific major.

Interestingly, San Diego States’ personalized approach to majors is very much like the personalized approach to learning that I’ve had over the past four years at Summit Prep.

Connecting School and Life

In the spirit of life-changing events, I also just got back from a journey across the world called Shalhevet. Shalhevet is a two-week trip to Poland and Israel, where Jewish teens from all over the Bay Area are able to go visit concentration camps and then ascend to Jerusalem, where we visit the Western Wall. This trip was influenced by the Holocaust class that I took during Expeditions last year. Going to Poland was especially meaningful to me because my family is Polish, and I am the first generation to go back to Poland since most of my family was murdered by the Nazis during World War II.

In Poland, I visited three different concentration camps: Treblinka, Majdanek, and Auschwitz-Birkenau. I spent about two days in Warsaw, one day in Lublin, and four days in Krakow. I was also lucky enough to be accompanied by a Holocaust survivor, named Sami Steigmann; he joined the group on this trip to share his story and empower the group with his knowledge and wisdom. This experience was a milestone in my life that will change the way I think about the world, and I am very grateful that I was able to embark on this journey.


Talia and Sami Steigmann, the Holocaust survivor who accompanied her group, at the death camp Majdanek in Lublin, Poland.

Aspects of Summit I Will Take With Me to College

As I move forward to graduation and beyond, I am lucky to have been supplied with multiple resources that will set me up for success. One of these resources is the Cognitive Skills Rubric, which is the grading tool that outlines the 36 interdisciplinary and higher-order thinking skills that are developed through school projects and essential for college and career. After spending the last four years looking at this detailed set of guidelines for my projects, I feel confident in my ability to create quality work. In college, for example, I plan on using the rubric as an assessment tool for my work, even though it’s no longer required!

The Summit Learning approach has enabled me to become a self-directed learner. Throughout the years, I have learned how to advocate for myself in the classroom, how to do outside research beyond the materials we are given in class, and so much more. I know these skills will be instrumental when I get to San Diego State University and am greatly independent for the first time in my life.

Lastly, I can honestly say that my time at Summit Prep has been a key element in helping develop my Sense of Purpose through Expeditions, projects, and the teachers who I have been lucky enough to have.

Gearing Up for College

This July, I will be attending San Diego State’s orientation for first-year students. At this orientation, I will be meeting other people in my major, learning more about my housing situation, and more importantly—choosing classes! In addition to this orientation, I plan on getting a job so that I can decrease the financial burden of my first year as an independent. Then, in August, I’m off to college!


The author discusses her internship learnings at Summit Prep’s Celebration of Learning.

I would like to thank the Summit Learning External Engagement team for giving me the opportunity to intern with them and showing me the ropes of the professional world. In addition, I would like to give a huge shoutout to my incredible internship advisors Katie McNeil, Lauren Faggella, and Erica Swallow. You three have been so gracious with your time and energy, and I know that I will carry the knowledge and wisdom you have supplied me with in college and beyond. It has been a true honor to be able to intern here, and I am incredibly grateful for all whom I have had the privilege of working with and the unique experiences provided for me.

This post is the fourth and final in a series about Talia’s journey to college acceptance.

About the author

Talia Herzberg
Talia Herzberg is currently a Senior at Summit Preparatory Charter High School. Her interest in business, marketing, and community outreach led her to an internship with the Summit Learning External Engagement team, where she provides an insightful student perspective at the Summit Learning Home Office. In her free time, she enjoys participating in various youth leadership groups, volunteering at a camp for kids with special needs, and traveling. She plans on majoring in business in college.