As we look forward to welcoming back some DWS alumni for our panel happening on Wednesday,
February 15 at 9:00am, we asked DWS Next Steps Coach Laura Shope to share more about Waldorf alumni.
Read her insights below and be sure to join us on February 15th for coffee at 8:15am followed by the alumni panel!


People often wonder about where Waldorf graduates go and what they do after graduation. Or perhaps,
the underlying question is, “Will my student have the best opportunities available to them if they attend
a Waldorf high school?” As an alumni parent, trained Waldorf teacher, and as the Next Steps coach at
The Denver Waldorf School, I can say absolutely, yes! And perhaps even more…

Waldorf alumni are often described as standing out in their future work experiences or in college. There
is an anecdote that I have heard validated time and time again about professors in colleges noticing a
distinct difference in our students, asking where they went to high school, and upon hearing a Waldorf
high school, responding with an all-knowing, “Ah, yes, that makes sense.” On the Waldorf Education
website, this idea is validated:

“Professors in various academic disciplines and in a wide range of colleges and universities who have
had Waldorf graduates as students…note that Waldorf graduates have the ability to integrate thinking,
to assimilate information as opposed to memorizing isolated facts, are willing to take intellectual risks,
and are leaders who take initiative.” (Waldorf Education, 2022)

Waldorf graduates are often described as visionaries and as having developed a sense of balance in life.
They are adaptable, have patience, and are collaborative in nature. Waldorf alumni are also reported to
have more ease with creating relationships with professors in college as they are accustomed to
discussion and having a close relationship with their teachers in high school. These qualities stand out as
something different and valuable as our alumni move into various roles in their lives after high school.

Sometimes there is also a myth that Waldorf schools are just “art” schools, or that perhaps the education is
not as serious as other options. Our high school curriculum is an integrated liberal arts curriculum that
includes the arts, but even more so emphasizes the sciences, mathematics, history and English. What’s
unique is that all the students participate in the whole curriculum, and, therefore, are exposed to many
subjects deeply.

In my experience at two Waldorf high schools, about half of our graduates go on to
study humanities and social science, including a few who dedicate themselves directly to the arts. The
other half go into science and math fields. According the data gathered from over 1000 Waldorf
graduates in North America, about 45% of Waldorf alumni pursue arts/humanities/social science,
another 45% pursue STEM majors with the remaining choosing business, health or education.*

As part of our Next Steps program at DWS, students are guided to identify their interests and the
possible pathways forward with the intent that they feel confident about their choices even if it’s not all
clear yet. Our students start researching careers in ninth grade and the pathways required for different
options in tenth. During eleventh grade, students start a more individualized process around their own
skills and interests, develop skills related to applying to jobs, programs and colleges, and have a
wonderful opportunity to “try on” an experience during a two-week “internship” at the end of the year.
Senior year is all about the implementation of their individual plans.

At DWS, almost all our graduates head off to college. Of those who choose a different path other than college,
recently some have chosen training for a specific trade or getting work experience before choosing
a path. Some of our students choose to attend community college first, and then transfer to a four-year
college or earn an associate’s degree. And more recently, an increasing number of students are choosing
to take a gap year before going on to college to travel, volunteer, earn money, or deepen their learning
about an area of interest. Nationwide, this trend is growing and about 25% of Waldorf graduates report
taking a gap year before attending college.* Our college-bound graduates are pleased with the options
they have to choose from, receive large merit-aid awards, and are well-prepared for success in their new
learning institutions.

Time and time again, Waldorf alumni, whether through research, alumni panels, social media posts, or
in direct conversations, cite their Waldorf education as uniquely preparing them for their futures, and often,
especially crediting their participation in the arts or the integrated curriculum as being an
important factor. (Safit, et. all, 2020)

Our students are not just prepared for college — they are prepared to make meaningful and deep contributions
to the world, well beyond their first job. Their Waldorf education is the first step in this journey. In a world that
will change many times over after they graduate, our students build a solid foundation to meet the challenges
and opportunities for all of their days ahead.


References and Additional Resources

*Into the World: How Waldorf Graduates Fare after High School
Safit, I., Gerwin, D., Stokes, C., & Starzynski, A. (2020). Into the World: How Waldorf Graduates Fare after
High School. Waldorf Publications.

Lamboy, J. (Host). (2021, October 26). A conversation with alumni [Audio podcast episode]. In The
Denver Waldorf School Podcast. Spotify.