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United World College of Costa Rica

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United World College of Costa Rica

United World College
Costa Rica
Santa Ana, San José
Costa Rica
Type International Baccalaureate
Established August 2006
President Nelson Mandela
Queen Noor
Principal Mauricio Viales Salas
Number of students 147
Affiliation United World Colleges
SOS Children's Villages

The United World College Costa Rica (UWC Costa Rica) (Spanish - Colegio del Mundo Unido Costa Rica), located in the Santa Ana suburb of San José, is the 11th United World College and the first to offer instruction in both English and Spanish. The College, formerly the "Colegio Internacional SOS Hermann Gmeiner," opened in August 2006 and graduated its first UWC-admitted applicants in 2008. At the moment it contains 149 international students from more than 60 different countries. Students are selected based on an extensive scholarship programme, meaning that they are selected on the basis of merit and regardless of their social or economic status. Given its historic connection with SOS Children's Villages, UWC Costa Rica aims to ensure that students from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds are admitted to the school each year. Depending on their academic needs, students may apply for a three-year programme with a preparatory pre-IB year before enrolling in the regular IB programme. The college is primarily committed to three areas: Conflict Resolution, the environment and multiculturalism.


  • Programs 1
    • Selection and Admissions of Students 1.1
    • Academic programs 1.2
      • International Baccalaureate 1.2.1
      • University Counseling Program 1.2.2
    • Co-curricular programs 1.3
      • CAS program 1.3.1
      • Theme Week 1.3.2
      • 'Conociendo Costa Rica' (Getting to Know Costa Rica) 1.3.3
      • Project Week 1.3.4
      • Service to Campus 1.3.5
      • Sports Program 1.3.6
      • Music Program 1.3.7
    • Residential Life Program 1.4
      • Integrated Health Program 1.4.1
      • Social and Cultural programs 1.4.2
      • Host Family Program 1.4.3
      • Mediation Program 1.4.4
      • Student Service Program 1.4.5
      • Emergency Program 1.4.6
    • Support Structure In The Residential Life 1.5
      • 1. Residence Coordinator 1.5.1
      • 2. Tutor 1.5.2
      • 3. Psychology 1.5.3
      • 4. Infirmary 1.5.4
      • 5. Student Services Coordinator 1.5.5
      • 6. Emergency Teams 1.5.6


Selection and Admissions of Students

Every year the College makes offers of places and scholarships to the UWC Selection National to create a student body which reflects the priorities and identity of the College but within the context of their financial resources. UWC Costa Rica is committed to having a strong proportion of students from Latin America, at least 50%, a significant population of students from socioeconomic disadvantaged backgrounds, and an overall globally diversity. The expected entry profile of students by the UWC Costa Rica is communicated to the National Committees. Once a student is nominated a small group of individuals evaluate the applicant with regards to this entry profile. Those who compare favorably are admitted.

Academic programs

International Baccalaureate

The College provide students an pre-university academic program for the 11th and 12th grades. It is designed to encourage independent thinking and develop global perspectives of development.The IB is a rigorous academic program that prepares students for university life. The students of the IB diploma are required to study six subjects in different areas: Language A (first language), Language B (second language), Experimental Sciences, Individuals and Society, Mathematics and Arts. The areas are complemented with a course on Theory of Knowledge and the Program Creativity, Action, and Service. Students are also required to write an Extended Essay; a 4000 word research project from a self formulated question within a subject.

University Counseling Program

The International Baccalaureate diploma program offered by UWC Costa Rica, which is a rigorous and comprehensive course of study, is intended for university bound students. It is expected that 90% or more of UWC Costa Rica graduates will enter higher studies soon after graduation, though several of them will take gap years to travel and volunteer while a few others will fulfill national service obligations or work first. Therefore, the University Counseling program was created to support and advise students with their individual plans, particularly the college/university selection and application process. Because many UWC Costa Rica students come from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds, special emphasis is placed on identifying scholarship opportunities. The University Counselor is also responsible for introducing and supporting UWC Costa Rica students to colleges, universities, scholarship committees, gap year programs, and other relevant constituencies. For example, more than fifty colleges and universities recruit UWC Costa Rica students, offering presentations and interviews and the University Counselor will host these visits.

Co-curricular programs

CAS program

The CAS program is an integral part of the International Baccalaureate Diploma program. Its design and concept in UWC Costa Rica reflects the organizational philosophy of the United World Colleges by putting a strong emphasis on the public service and the social responsibility. The CAS program in UWC Costa Rica is characterized by providing activities for the students that generate an impact on their lives. This array of activities is divided in the three main areas of CAS: Creativity, Action, and Service. Students are also able to start and lead their own clubs under the CAS program, provided that they are based on the UWC Costa Rica pillars.

  • Creativity

The Creativity programs taught in UWC Costa Rica are characterized by their adaptability and they change every semester. The Creativity programs take the advantage of the strong leadership of students and give them the opportunity to lead some of the activities besides the ones that are already led by adults, teachers or external instructors throughout the school year.

  • Action

Most of the Action programs at the UWC Costa Rica are taught by professional instructors. One of the goals of the program is the creation of sports teams that train and participate in different tournaments in high schools.

  • Service

The service programs at the UWC Costa Rica are characterized by the focus on community service. There are different institutions and sectors of the community that throughout these years have become traditions within the service programs.

Theme Week

The Theme Week program provides the students the opportunity to develop a relevant topic during one week. In general, these theme weeks are related to the three pillars of the College. Some examples are the cultural weeks by regions where there are exhibitions, debates, or preparation of typical dishes. Topics developed can be related to the worldwide reality or to the community service area. In general, the theme weeks are organized by the leaders of the pillars and a group of students and provide the community with an agenda of different activities.

'Conociendo Costa Rica' (Getting to Know Costa Rica)

The Conociendo Costa Rica Program provides students with the opportunity to visit and get to know Costa Rica outside the school campus. This program takes place besides the academic activities, the community service or any other the students normally perform. Its aim is to visit different places such as national parks, archaeological sites, organized communities, etc. and usually is based on the school's pillars.

Project Week

Project Week is a unique program where students are able to choose from a variety of service based opportunities within and at times outside Costa Rica. Aimed to strengthen the importance of community service, students can find themselves immersed in various projects from building and maintaining paths in National parks to teaching English in a local school.

Service to Campus

Service to Campus is an ample program that offers the students participation in several areas such as gardening, kitchen, recycling, and library, among others.

Sports Program

The sports program works together with the Action component of the CAS program. A professional person on sports supports the health area and the physical activity of the students at UWC Costa Rica. Through sports activities on weekdays and weekends, individualized follow up and a strict working plan, the sports program objective is to give the students the opportunity to enjoy a healthy lifestyle and to develop sport habits that can last for a lifetime.

Music Program

The music program provides the students the possibility to participate in concerts and different activities throughout the school year. These activities take place both on campus and off campus.

Residential Life Program

Purpose: “To offer an efficient system with support nets for the students and develop a home like environment out of home where all members of the community are active participants according to the UWC Costa Rica and UWC values and pillars for the intercultural understanding, the experience of peace and the protection of the environment.”

Integrated Health Program

The Integrated Health Program’s work is based on education and prevention. It aims to train the community of the College to develop a healthy lifestyle. It focuses its attention on the physical, emotional, and psychological health as well as on the practice of sports, and the strengthening of life skills.

Social and Cultural programs

This program aims to offer spaces for the social and cultural exchange. The program encourages the organization of regular and optional cultural and social events where students lead. These events can be organized for all the community or for smaller groups of residences, tutor groups, or any other group such as geographical or ethnic groups.

Host Family Program

This program is intended for the students to spend time with Costa Rican families of foreign families resident here. Through this program, both the students and the families should benefit from the exchange of customs, ideas, and culture.

Mediation Program

Based on the pillars of the College, and particularly the pillar of Conflict Transformation, the College objective is to promotes a culture of dialogue, respect, and tolerance as part of the daily life of its community. Therefore, efforts are focused to solve conflict through the mentioned elements whenever possible. Mediation is then used to repair and rebuild in a positive way the relations among the members of the community. Every year, a group of students is trained on this topic to facilitate the conflict resolution processes and the differences between the students.

Student Service Program

This program supports the students in all matters related to migration processes before their arrival, during their stay, and when leaving the country. It also supports the students with local and international transportation matters.

Emergency Program

This program deals with the prevention and attention of emergencies and accidents –individual, group, or institutional. This includes health matters, problems in the infrastructure, external matters that may affect the College like natural disasters.

Support Structure In The Residential Life

1. Residence Coordinator

The Residence Coordinator is a staff member who supports the students throughout the school year in the community life and with their emotional needs to make their in the College better. Each coordinator is in charge of one residence and holds a weekly meeting with its members. These meetings are intended to analyze the internal organization, the internal rules, the cleaning duties, the rights and duties, among others. Furthermore, the coordinator can make the necessary decisions for the proper functioning of the residence and the fulfillment of the institutional objectives. A relation of confidence is expected. Moreover, the Residence Coordinator is expected to strengthen the group coexistence through different spaces.

2. Tutor

A teaching staff member is responsible for providing support, guide and orientation to a group of students, especially in the academic area. The tutor serves as a counselor and a guide while trying to elicit constant improvement from the students in the co curricular activities as well as in the community life. A relation of confidence is expected where the student feels supported and guided to constantly improve. Tutors also intervene in the disciplinary processes of the students fulfilling a role of support and prevention.

3. Psychology

The College has two psychologists who assess the emotional needs of the students. They counsel the students when necessary or refer them to external professionals depending on the needs. They also work on prevention in the topics they find as priorities for the community. Both psychologists live on campus and are also Residence Coordinators. Therefore, they are in close and permanent contact with the students. They are part of the Integrated Health Program.

4. Infirmary

The nurse provides the necessary and proper support in physical health. Her job is focused on prevention and intervention. The nurse provides the necessary attention to the students and she refers the students to the doctor when it is deemed necessary. The nurse is part of the Integrated Health Program and also assesses the meals served in the College.

5. Student Services Coordinator

This person supports the students in migration matters and coordinates local and international transportation.

6. Emergency Teams

Members of these teams are from all the areas of the College, including both students and staff members. They act in case of emergencies. They are trained according to the needs of the program.

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