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Your Guide to Saint John’s Prep

St. Johns Prep School

Table of Contents

As a beloved pillar of the Central Minnesota learning community since 1857, we are honored to play a key role in helping young people reach their full potential! You’re welcome to explore our generations of tradition and academic excellence on our website, and we’ve pulled together this comprehensive guide to offer you everything you need to know about attending our school — all in one place!  


Because Saint John’s Prep is a private school, we are able to offer a few things that many of the best public schools in the US simply can’t, including small class sizes. A typical class at Prep contains just 18 students, and each grade ranges from 45–55 students total, bringing our student-to-faculty ratio to 11:1. 

What Our Small Student-to-Teacher Ratio Means

With smaller classes, our teachers have the capacity to form closer relationships with each student and are better able to help them reach their full potential. Our teachers also have the flexibility — and the time — to support students outside of the classroom. Some examples might include extra time to answer questions and explain complicated content or providing materials to captivate their special interests and push them to explore their passions on a deeper level.

Our Learning Environment

Because we’re a Catholic Benedictine school, our teachers also have the freedom to take a more holistic approach to education. Students are encouraged to ask questions about the world and their place in it and get curious about different belief systems and cultures. In every way we can make it one, our school is a place where students are known, cared for, and feel loved


“Prep School” is short for college preparatory school. Meaning, that a prep school places special focus on preparing students for college. Some prep schools have a religious affiliation, while others do not.

St. John's Prep things to know about prep schools

At Saint John’s Prep, that last point is of special importance to us. We don’t believe in teaching to test or focusing on rote memorization. We do believe, however, that one of the most important things we can do as educators is to give our students the tools they need to lead lives that are filled with joy, meaning, and purpose. For that, they need self-awareness and discipline, critical thinking, creative problem-solving, encouragement to try new things, the ability to form close relationships, and enough confidence to ask teachers and mentors for help when they need it. 

Not surprisingly, we often hear from our alumni that they felt much better prepared than their peers for college — not only in their coursework but in their ability to live more independently and navigate a larger campus. They also tell us they felt far more confident in their choice of school and areas of study.

Preparation in the Broader Sense

Recent statistics show that 80% of college students switch their major at least once, and the average student changes their major three times. Our students benefit from having a variety of counselors on our staff — one of whom focuses entirely on helping each student and their family create a personalized plan for their college and career goals; saving your child time and money on their college career.

We also feel it’s critically important to help our students discover their unique gifts and passions early. Not only do our students see how their education is ultimately tied to achieving their goals, which boosts engagement — but during their upper school years, our students also get a much better understanding of which colleges and universities (and majors) will best serve them.


St. John's Prep Students in Class Learning

While our graduation requirements exceed those of the state of Minnesota and have always been consistent with admission requirements at more selective colleges and universities, we recently enhanced our curriculum to allow our students more flexibility to choose a path to success that best suits their learning styles, talents, and interests, with additional opportunities to earn honors and distinctions.  

Our students also have the opportunity to take part in our advanced placement (AP) or college classes at the nearby College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University.

St. John's Prep offers outdoor expereinces with it's vast campus

Our large, woodland campus makes it much easier for us to offer some of these rare opportunities, as we are located on the campus of Saint John’s University, and the College of Saint Benedict is just a short bus ride away. Our students have access to their academic libraries, sports facilities, bookstores, coffee shops, and dining facilities. They can also check out sports equipment like canoes, skis, kayaks, and more, and attend talks by special guest speakers. 

In many ways, our students have the rare experience of having one foot within the K-12 environment and the other gently exposed to the college lifestyle. We find that their transition to higher education is significantly smoother than that of their peers.

Our Results

If you were to visit our campus, we are confident that you’d quickly identify many reasons our alumni look back on their time with us so fondly. While we’re proud of our role in helping our students become well-rounded, well-educated adults — and we cherish our time with them — our primary job is to prepare them for their next steps in life. And the numbers on indicate that we’re doing just that.

St. John's Prep Statistics


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As a premier arts and sciences world school in the Catholic Benedictine tradition, our values are practiced and honored throughout our school. A Benedictine education encourages a lively interplay between rigorous thinking and calls that all guests are to be welcomed as Christ. That means that bullying of any kind is simply not tolerated, and we help our students prepare for respectful, even rewarding conversations with individuals who have very different backgrounds and perspectives. 

Our Benedictine values are also integrated into our curriculum in a few key ways. Our 6th-grade students get an introduction to traditional Catholic mass and our values. In our 7th and 8th-grade social studies classes, we practice the values of listening and justice by incorporating and examining diverse perspectives and cultivating awareness of the ways in which historic injustices have held consequences for the present. We listen to the voices of vulnerable and marginalized people with the ear of our hearts so that we can work toward solutions in the present. Our SJP Community is defined by how we demonstrate respect for persons, actively listen, exemplify stewardship, and practice hospitality for all.

That said, many families may have a few misconceptions about what our religious affiliation means for them. Just to dispel a few myths, you don’t have to be Catholic to attend Saint John’s Prep, we don’t wear uniforms, and our staff aren’t all priests and nuns! In fact, only 40% of our students are Catholic.

The Benedictine Value of Welcoming All is a daily practice here.

I teach at Prep because I can teach in a way that allows my students to feel safe and to be themselves fully. When students know that they are safe and they can be themselves, they learn better. Truly, all are welcome here. I am given the support I need through small classes, an outstanding principal, and amazing peers.

Sarah Pasela, Science Faculty

COLLOQUIUMS and Community Time

We have a prayer service once a week and mass once a month as a community. All students are required to attend and can participate at the level they feel most comfortable. For example, students do not need to be Catholic to participate in the choir or read passages. Because our student body is diverse and includes students from 10–15 different countries every year, topics chosen for the message are relatable and inclusive.

We also believe that exposing our students to different viewpoints is very important, which is why we invite speakers of different faiths to our campus to share their experiences, break down stereotypes, and create safe spaces where our students can ask important questions.


St. John's Prep students enjoying the outdoors on campus

The best way to get a feel for our school is to come for a campus visit. A few things our visitors notice immediately is how much time our students get to spend time outside — often up to four or five times a day! 

Our 2,900-acre woodland campus makes it easy for our teachers to provide our students with more hands-on, interactive learning opportunities. Gym, art, language arts, and science classes are frequently held outside and utilize all areas of campus. We also have an incredible sledding hill that our students take advantage of throughout the winter months. 

We offer 5-day and 7-day boarding opportunities in Saint Michael Hall. With the recent $5.5 million renovation, our residence has all the comforts of home: flat-screen TVs, a community lounge, computers with internet access, and shared laundry and kitchen facilities. We have full-time adult staff who are trained in creating a respectful, healthy, and safe living community for our boarding students.

If you’re still in the research phase, our Virtual Admission Center offers a video tour of our campus and additional resources to help you get a sense of the learning environment we provide, and a day in the life of a typical prep student.  

You’re also more than welcome to schedule a visit with us. Click the link below to get started!

Our Co-Curricular
(Extracurricular) Opportunities

St. John's Prep Soccer Team Practicing

We refer to our activities outside the classroom as co-curricular because they are in alignment with our holistic approach to education. Like many schools, we have a variety of arts and athletics programs that we encourage our students to participate in — regardless of ability. And while we tend to be more widely known for our students’ academic performance,  we’re proud to say that Joey Stock — a Major League Baseball player — is a recent Prep alum!

We also offer activities that are less traditional, like Esports, special interest clubs (which students can initiate and lead), and other community service, mentorship, and leadership opportunities. 

We keep our students informed about how they can get involved at Prep Talk, our weekly colloquium program held each Monday. To allow students to participate in a variety of clubs and organizations, we reserve dedicated time during our school week for these groups to meet or connect with their teachers as needed.

The Experiential Learning Center

Our Experiential Learning Center houses the Benedictine Center for Leadership and Service as well as our global studies programs. Our leadership and service center often helps the Ravens — our peer ministry service club — coordinate special service projects through the National Honors Society (NHS). The service center also helps our students plan and manage their community service activities, like volunteering at a local food shelf or doing a clothing drive.


We offer study abroad programs and a variety of global experiences for our students, and in some cases, their families! More of these opportunities are available for our upper school students — like our Melk student exchange program or English Teaching Internship in Japan. However, we have family travel opportunities for our younger students. For example, Prep students and families recently had the opportunity to take part in a service trip to Guatemala. 

We also offer multiple ways that students can explore the world around them without leaving home. 25% of our students are international, and we often welcome guest educators from other countries.Recently, students from our partner school in Japan visited our middle school classrooms to provide special programming with plenty of opportunities for our students to learn about Japanese culture, history, and language.

St. John's Prep has a diverse presence among it's students


Two adults at St. John's prep

No Prep student pays the full cost of a Prep education. We firmly believe that a high-quality education should be accessible for every qualified student — regardless of their socioeconomic status. We provide a few ways to make a prep school education affordable for all of our families, including scholarships, work-study opportunities, and interest-free payment plans. 

Variable Tuition

Our day and US resident students are welcome to apply for our Variable Tuition Assistance Program, which typically covers 40–90% of our tuition through grant scholarships. Our program takes into account far more than just income, like the additional financial burden of caring for an aging parent or a rise in the cost of living, which is why we encourage every family to engage with us during the process to ensure you get a thorough review of your financial situation.

We also understand that committing to a private school can be scary for many families. However, if your circumstances change while your student is still attending Prep, we’re dedicated to working with you as best we can.

“Once we accept your student and welcome your family to our community, we are committed through graduation. We hope it never happens, but should you lose a job or have unforeseen medical expenses, for example, we’re here for you, your child, and your family.”

— Laura Hartog, Director of Admission and Enrollment Management

We also offer an online tuition calculator. This tool only takes into consideration your income, not your family’s individual circumstances, but it can provide you with a general idea of what you might expect to invest in a Prep education.

If you have any questions about financial aid, please don’t hesitate to contact us!


Application process with St. Johns Prep

With our online application management system, parents can create a secure account to stay connected with our Admission staff throughout the process and beyond. You can apply directly to Saint John’s Prep or you can submit the Standard Application Online (SAO). Our rolling admission model allows us to accept applications at any time.

The admission process at Saint John’s Prep typically consists of five steps:

  1. Complete the online application form 
  2. Complete additional checklist items
    • US students will need letters of recommendation from math and English instructors, a school transcript, standardized test scores, and an essay for upper-school students
    • International students will also need to provide us with the results of an English proficiency exam to ensure that our experience will best suit their needs
  3. Schedule a campus visit/interview for international students
  4. Receive our admission decision 
  5. Pay the deposit

Grade Acceleration 

We do allow grade acceleration (skipping grades) at Prep when it makes sense for students and their families. We may consider this option for students who are becoming bored with their class work, are universally exceeding learning goals, and are hungry for more learning opportunities than their teachers can provide in their current classes. 


We’ve tried to make this guide as comprehensive as possible, but of course, we can’t anticipate every question a parent or child may have!

Click the link below to learn more about applying to Saint John’s Prep, and if you have any additional questions about how we might support your child’s needs, please don’t hesitate to reach out!

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