Robert College

Robert College of Istanbul (Turkish: Istanbul Amerikan Robert Lisesi), is the most selective[1][2] independent[3] private high school in Turkey. Robert College is a co-educational, boarding school with a 65-acre wooded campus on the European side of Istanbul between the two bridges on the Bosphorus, with the beautifully quaint Arnavutkoy district to the east, and the upscale Ulus district to the west.
Post Tenebras Lux
(Light After Darkness)
Dominus Illuminatio Mea
(The Lord is my Light) 
Established 1863 
School type Independent, Boarding 
Headmaster John R. Chandler 
Location Arnavutköy, Istanbul, TR 
Campus Urban (65 acres / 27 ha) 
Total enrollment: 992
163 boarding
222 on scholarship
Average SAT
scores (2006) Math: 755
Verbal: 581
Writing: 614 
Color(s) Red, Blue, White (US Flag) 
The Institution is the oldest American school still in existence in its original location outside of the United States.[4] Robert College is accredited by the New York State Association of Independent Schools, European Council of International Schools, Council of International Schools and International Baccalaureate Organization.

Robert College is consistently ranked among the top twelve high schools in the world,[citation needed] and has a reputation of frequently turning out entire graduating classes who go on to become leaders in their respective fields, both nationally and on the international arena, including owners and CEO's of top multinational companies, renowned entrepreneurs, major political leaders such as prime ministers, and influential Arts figures among which there are Pulitzer and Nobel Prize winners.[citation needed]


Robert College is an American educational institution in TurkeyIn 1863, Robert College was founded in Bebek as the oldest American high school outside the borders of the United States. The school was founded by Christopher Rhinelander Robert, a wealthy American and a philanthropist, and Cyrus Hamlin, a missionary devoted to education. Six years after its foundation, with the permission (Ottoman Turkish: irade) of the Ottoman Sultan, the first campus (at present, it is the South Campus of Bogaziçi University) was built in Bebek at the ridge of Rumelia Fortress, very close to a Bektashi tekke, whose leaders maintained an excellent relationship with the Unitarian founders of Robert. The first building of the school was named "Hamlin Hall" in memory of Cyrus Hamlin.

After Hamlin's death, Robert College was successfully administrated by George Washburn (1877-1903) and Caleb Gates (1903-1932). Though founded at the time of the Ottoman Empire as an institution of higher learning serving the Christian minority of the Balkans and the foreigners living in Istanbul, the school adopted a strictly secular educational model in accordance with the republican principles of Turkey in 1923. Robert College, in the past had junior high school, high school, and university sections under the names Robert Academy, Robert Yüksek and American College for Girls. Since 1971, the school has functioned only as a high school on its Arnavutköy campus (formerly the campus of American College for Girls), yet it retains the title of College. The Bebek campus was donated to the Republic of Turkey for use as the campus ground for what is now a a leading public institution of higher learning, namely Bogaziçi University.

"Through the education of succeeding generations of students, Robert College has assisted the economic and social progress in the Near East. It has also brought direct benefits to several generations of Americans- faculty members, trustees, students, contributors, and other friends of the College. Their close association with the heroic and hospitable people of Turkey has led to a greater appreciation of Turkish life and culture and the strong foundations on which the Republic of Turkey, our close friend and partner in peace, has been built. I send my cordial congratulations to the officers and friends of Robert College on the century of service you are so deservedly celebrating."

—John F. Kennedy, President of the United States, Message for the Centennial Celebrations of Robert College, 1963[5]

Major events

Robert College Construction (1910-1914)1863 September 16: Robert College opened with 4 students at Bebek Seminary School.
  • 1922: President C. Gates and Hüseyin Pektas (the first Muslim graduate and then Vice-President of the college) attended the Conference of Lausanne representing foreign educational institutions in Ottoman Empire.
  • 1932: With Dr. Paul Monroe, joint Presidency system was adapted by Robert College and American College for Girls.
  • 1957: Robert College was granted permission to become an institution of higher learning by the Republic of Turkey; Robert College "Yuksek" (High) was established.
  • 1971: The "Yüksek" was officially ended on May 18. The merger of American College for Girls and Robert Academy as a co-educational private institution with junior high and high schools, on the Arnavutköy campus was officially confirmed on September 1971. Robert College's Bebek campus was donated to the Republic of Turkey. Bogaziçi University was established as a public university in this campus.
  • 1998: With the adoption of the law for eight years of uninterrupted primary education in Turkey (junior high school became part of the primary education), the school no longer accepted students to its junior high school section.
  • 2001: The last junior high school students graduated and junior high school section was officially closed. Now, Robert College has Prep, 9, 10, 11, 12 grades, and accepts students who have finished compulsory primary education of eight years.
"Robert College stands as a token of the close cooperation between Turkey and the USA. It is an institution which has made important contributions to the cultural life of this country and will continue to play a valuable part in the promotion of culture and education."

—Cemal Gürsel, President of the Republic of Turkey, Message for the Centennial Celebrations of Robert College, 1963

List of presidents and heads

Cyrus Hamlin - 1863-1877 
George Washburn - 1877-1903 
Caleb Frank Gates - 1903-1932 
Paul Monroe - 1932-1935 
Walter Livingston Wright - 1935-1943 
Harold Lorain Scott (Acting President) - 1943-1944 
Floyd Henson Black - 1944-1955 
Duncan Smith Ballantine - 1955-1961 
 Harold Locke Hazen (Acting President) - 1961 
Patrick Murphy Malin - 1962-1964 
James L. Brainerd (Acting President) - 1965 
Dwight James Simpson - 1965-1967 
Howard P. Hall (Acting President) - 1967-1968 
John Scott Everton - 1968-1971 
John Clay Chalfant - 1971-1977 
James Richard Maggart - 1977-1981 
 Elizabeth Dabanovitch (Acting Head) - 1981-1982 
Alan Donn Kesselheim - 1982-1984 
Margaret A. Johnson (Interim Head) - 1984-1988 
Harry A. Dawe - 1988-1992 
Benjamin D. Williams III (Interim Head) - 1992-1993 
Christopher Wadsworth - 1993-2001 
Livingston Merchant - 2001-2005 
John Russell Chandler - 2005- 
"I have come to express America's solidarity with the Turkish people at a time of national tragedy, and to reaffirm our partnership for a common future. We have been friends for a very long time. In 1863, the first American college outside the United States, Robert College, opened its doors to the youth of Turkey. It was the only foreign institution allowed along the Bosphorus, precisely because America had never encroached upon Turkish sovereignty. I'm very proud that Prime Minister Ecevit is an alumnus of Robert College."

—Bill Clinton, President of the the United States, From his speech delivered to Turkey's parliament during his visit in November 1999, after the devastating earthquake in western Turkey on August 17, 1999[5]


Robert College Gould Hall


Robert College admits nearly 160-200 students each year, who have scored within the top 2% (at most) in the Turkish national examination, which every Turkish student must take in order to study in a high school (secondary education) after they complete their primary education. The school has 968 students in the 2006-2007 academic year.


The faculty have an average of 22 years of teaching experience and the majority has either Turkish or United States citizenship. The school currently has a faculty who are 45% Turkish, 55% English native speakers (there are faculty from English speaking countries other than the United States, as well). Sixty-six percent of the full-time faculty hold masters degrees or higher.[7]


Robert College is a five year high school, with the first year (Prep) being the English immersion year that prepares students for rigorous curriculum, which is mostly in English. English is the language of instruction used in science, mathematics, literature, psychology, physical education, art and music courses. Turkish is the required language of instruction in social sciences and Turkish language/literature. To graduate from the school, students have to complete a program averaging 9 courses per semester, which is designed to prepare them both for matriculation in an American college or university and for study at Turkey’s top universities.

Robert College Plateau A view from Robert College PlateauGeneral graduation requirements for students include (excluding the Prep year):
  • Four years of English Language and Literature,
  • At least two years of Mathematics,
  • One year each of Introductory Biology, Introductory Physics, Introductory Chemistry and General Science,
  • Four years of Turkish Language and Literature,
  • One year of Geography, History, Turkish Republican History, Philosophy and Military Science,
  • At least two whole years of a foreign language course (German or French)
  • One year of Art elective.
If the above are successfully completed, then the student could graduate with the General Diploma. However, the other diploma types, namely:
  • Science Diploma,
  • Turkish-Math Diploma,
  • Social Studies Diploma,
  • English Language and Literature Diploma,
  • have their own requirements as well as the general requirements.

Advanced Placement electives

  • AP English Language and Composition
  • AP English Literature and Composition
  • AP Calculus AB
  • AP Calculus BC
  • AP Statistics
  • AP Computer Science

Other electives

Science: Advanced Physics, Advanced Biology, Advanced Chemistry, Modern Physics, Analog Electronics, Digital Electronics, Organic Chemistry, Advanced Topics and Independent Research in Biology, Global Science, Advanced Anatomy and Physiology. English: Art Society and Literature, Literature and Technology, Modern Novel, World Literature, Advanced Shakespeare Studies, Advanced Writing, Modern Drama, Journalism, Film and Literature, Oral English, English for Technology, English for the Business World.

Turkish: Turkish Language, Literary Texts, Creative/Refined Writing and Speech, History of Literature, Folk Literature, Contemporary Short Stories and Novels, Turkish Theater, Contemporary Turkish Poetry, Western Literature.
Mathematics: Advanced Geometry, Probability and Statistics.
Computer Science: Web Applications, Social Issues in Computing, Introduction to Programming.
Social Studies: Sociology, Logic, General Geography, World Economic Geography, Introduction to Psychology, Child Psychology.
Foreign Languages: German I-II-III-IV, French I-II-III-IV.
Arts: Photography, Advanced Photography, Graphic Art, Ceramics, Studio Art, Advanced Studio Art, Contemporary Art, Painting on Canvas, Art History, Advanced Music, Practical Music, Orchestra, Visual and Performing Arts.

Higher education

Robert College graduates traditionally continue their education in the United States or Turkey, though in recent years the number of students studying in Canada increased. Every year approximately 35-40% percent of the graduating class choose to study in the United States, whereas the ones wishing to study in Turkey get admitted to a university of their choice according to their score on National Entrance Examination (ÖSS). In 2006, Robert College ranked first in all three sections of ÖSS among the private high schools in Turkey, with 76 out of 132 students taking the exam scoring in the top 0,3% (top 5000). Out of 104 students who chose to study in Turkey, 29 were admitted to Bogaziçi University, which is the highest ranking school in Turkey. 56 students chose to continue their education abroad and 36% of these students are attending Ivy League colleges.

Extra-curricular activities

Robert College has a rich history of extra-curricular activities and sports, with more than 100 student activity clubs as of 2006. Robert College introduced basketball to the Ottoman Empire in 1907. The first Student Council in Ottoman Empire was also formed in 1908 in Robert College.

Student Council

Student Council is formed of a group of annually elected student governors and a faculty advisor. The elected body is proportional with class size. As well as class representatives, the president, the vice president, the secretary and the treasurer are elected after a period of campaigning. Student Council is responsible for facilitating communications between students, faculty and administration, as well as organizing social activities and fundraising for clubs. Student Council also organizes the largest high school festival, Fine Arts Festival, in Turkey. President of the Student Council heads the Honor Court and makes a speech during the opening, closing, graduation ceremonies, representing the student body.


RC Reviews March 2005 Issue


  • Bosphorous Chronicle: The school's newspaper published monthly.
  • Record: The Yearbook.
  • Kingdom Robertea: The school's scientific journal.
  • RC Reviews: The literary journal published quarterly.
  • Kaleidoscope: The English literature magazine.
  • Hamsi (Anchovy): The online fun and technology magazine.
  • Northbridge: The technology magazine.


Marti (Seagull): Turkish literature journal.
Oda (Room): Turkish literature journal publishing poems, stories and photos submitted by students.
Tarih (History): The History Club's annual publication.


Polyglot: The literary magazine in French, Spanish, German, English and Turkish.
Floor hockey 
Mini football 
Table tennis 
Robert College Basketball Team on the way to championship in Traditional Isik Okullari Tournament.

Music clubs

Robert College Orchestra is the second largest club in the school, after the Model United Nations club (MUN). Orchestra concerts, modern and classical, take place throughout the year and during the Homecoming. Though it has several sections in itself, the music groups below also exist independently:
  • Choir
  • Drums
  • Flute
  • Guitar
  • Musical Activities Club
  • Ney
  • Strings

Other clubs

Advanced Painting 
Art and Drawing 
Computer Assistants 
Computer Game Development Club 
Computer Programming 
Ceramics and Sculpture 
Contemporary Events 
Destination Imagination 
Ethical Values 
European Youth Club (EYC) 
Film Production 
First Lego League 
French Theater 
Future Physicians 
German Movie 
International Cooking 
Junior Achievement 
Latin Dance 
Marine Biology 
Model United Nations (MUN) 
Outdoor Challenge 
Peer Counselling 
Peer Tutoring 
Playscript Writing 
RC Theater Company 
Red Crescent 
Theater Sports 
Turkish Literature and Culture 
Turkish Musical 
Turkish Theater 
Viennese Language and Culture 
Volunteers in Education 
Young Business People 
Young Reporters for the Environment   
Robert College Students in the Forum 

Robert College Images Galleries

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