Frequently Asked Questions
You likely have many questions about Milton Hershey School academics, home life, student eligibility, and more. Review these common questions for a broad view of our school and what we provide to students. We also have specialized FAQs for Parents and Sponsors, as well as Houseparents.
Your General Questions Answered
Learn more about all aspects of Milton Hershey School.
Milton Hershey School is among the best private schools in the nation. We serve children in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade from working-class families who are income eligible. The generosity of founders Milton and Catherine Hershey over a century ago continues to provide this amazing opportunity today.
The following benefits are provided to MHS students:
- Personalized attention
- Small class sizes
- Outstanding academic programs and activities
- Medical care
Milton Hershey School students live on campus in a student home during the school year. Students live with houseparents and between 8-12 students of the same age group and gender. Education in the Judeo-Christian faith, the Hersheys’ heritage, is a part of the MHS program and includes daily devotions and Sunday chapel services.
During breaks and summer vacation, students have the option to return home or remain on campus for our Year-Round Experiences program.
MHS offers a rigorous academic program, preparing students for both the college and career paths. The school tailors its curriculum to student needs during each developmental stage so they receive an age-appropriate education. Students receive support, guidance, and educational assistance from highly-qualified teachers.
Our educational programs are segmented into the following divisions:
- Elementary Division – Pre-kindergarten through fourth grade
- Middle Division – Grades 5-8
- Senior Division – Grades 9-12
Throughout each division, the programs provide students with education and life skills. They also offer appropriate extracurricular activities.
As each MHS student grows, they develop competencies in core academic areas, problem-solving, relationship building, and life skills. They also are tested in their areas of strength and challenge.
Students are encouraged to find and refine their unique talents in a safe and nurturing environment. Our after-school programs also support classroom learning and provide another opportunity for students to apply classroom theory.
Career and Technical Education Exposure
As early as fourth grade, students are introduced to our Career and Technical Education program. The award-winning program pushes our students to explore career options. It then accelerates their growth in high school by giving them tailor-made instruction with the ability to work in their chosen career path.
In the student home, students have access to computers and homework support. MHS students commit more time to homework than the national average. MHS students perform exceptionally well on state tests and more than 90% pursue further education after graduation.
The school also offers educational and fun programs for students who choose to remain on campus during breaks and holidays. The campus is open 365 days per year, and there is Year-Round Experiences programming and activities throughout the year.
Our student homes are specially designed to create a family-like atmosphere for students while encouraging them to remain close with their own families. The campus has more than 180 student homes. In each home, eight to 12 students of the same gender and age group live and learn under the guidance of houseparents.
Houseparents are married couples with childcare experience. They are employed fulltime by the school. They serve as mentors, providing support, guidance and academic assistance to their students as they teach skills that will make them successful in life.
Home Features and Rules
Each student home is equipped with a computer room, recreation area, and family room, along with sprawling outdoor space and playground equipment for Elementary Division students.
Students are expected to participate in daily chores such as doing laundry, vacuuming, making their beds, setting the table, and other tasks that help build a sense of responsibility and self-esteem. “Screen time” that is not related to homework is limited each day and physical activity, fellowship, and hobbies are encouraged.
Most students walk to and from school, weather permitting.
Elementary Division Typical Schedule
Houseparents are married couples who care for a group of eight to 12 children. They live in an apartment connected to a student home and help provide a caring, home-like environment for the students.
We are unlike any other public or private school in the nation because our program is completely free. MHS recognizes the importance of educating the whole child, and we encourage students to explore their academic, social, physical, emotional, and spiritual potential.
We understand that an enriching educational experience must have programs that complement academic learning. MHS encourages students to be exceptional through programs that support:
Hands-on learning provides a deeper understanding and better retention of classroom lessons. A combination of academic and life experiences prepare students for a positive future. Students in Senior Division also have access to internships and award-winning educational programs including Career and Technical Education, as well as independent living experiences for seniors.
Character and Leadership Development
Character and leadership is a cornerstone of the curriculum at Milton Hershey School. Our nationally-recognized Character and Leadership curriculum helps students grow into leaders by focusing on social, emotional, spiritual, and physical health. Opportunities to participate in Student Government Association, Chapel Services, and many athletic and extracurricular activities further prepare students for a brighter future.
Wellness programs empower students to take an active interest in their own health as they learn to make wise eating choices and enjoy an active lifestyle. Also, the school provides free quality health care, including dental and social work services.
Along with these excellent programs, MHS also offers students a unique experience through its partnership with The Hershey Company, Hershey Entertainment and Resorts, and Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. Students have the opportunity to learn from world-renowned business executives in their classrooms and through special internship programs.
Children considered for admission must meet the following criteria:
- Come from a family of lower income
- Be age four to 15 at the time of enrollment
- Have the ability to learn
- Be free of serious behavioral problems that would disrupt life in the classroom or the student home
- Be able to participate in and benefit from the school’s program
Each year, Milton Hershey School receives far more applications from individuals who meet the minimum qualifications for admission than the school can accept. Learn more about the minimum eligibility criteria and the factors that may affect applicants who are selected for interview and admission.
To be eligible for enrollment, a child must come from a family of lower income and be receiving sub-standard care from one or both of their parents. Nearly 2,000 students are currently enrolled in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade. Students come predominantly from Pennsylvania (78%) and the MidAtlantic region, and represent more than 34 states in the United States. Approximately 43% of our students have siblings who also attend MHS.
See Milton Hershey School’s full Equal Opportunity Policy.
We are not affiliated with a denomination. The Hersheys’ Deed of Trust requires the moral and religious training of students, but it also states that the school shall be “non-sectarian,” which we have always interpreted as non-denominational within the Judeo-Christian tradition. We provide students with religious education, programs, and activities consistent with that interpretation and tradition.
Mr. Hershey appointed the Hershey Trust Company as the school’s trustee to provide investment management and administration oversight. The school continues to be funded through this trust fund.
The school’s Deed of Trust is the legal document signed by Milton and Catherine Hershey in 1909 to establish the school. This Deed of Trust still guides the school today. Amended twice by the Dauphin County Orphans Court to admit girls and minorities into the school, the Deed of Trust includes guidelines for management oversight, spending, admissions, and school programs.
Milton Hershey School is the parent organization of Catherine Hershey Schools for Early Learning. Unlike MHS, CHS offers a day program for infants through 5-year-old children in locations across Pennsylvania.
CHS is staffed and operated independently of the MHS core model.
Parents and Sponsors: Your Questions Answered
Review the following answers to some of the most common questions asked by parents and sponsors as their child starts at Milton Hershey School.
As a parent or sponsor, you play an important role in your child’s experience at MHS. It’s your role to support of your child, the staff, and school policies. This will contribute to the success of your child at MHS and their future.
You made a big decision in having your child attend MHS. We know it was difficult. There will be times when you will need to be strong in your commitment to both the School and your child. In times like these, focus on the present and future rewards you and your child will earn by being at MHS. Actively support and encourage your child by attending their games, events, and our family weekends. Make sure you communicate regularly with your child’s houseparents. They can update you on your child’s progress. It also lets your child know how proud you are of them.
First point of contact is always your child’s houseparents for any issue. They know your child best and are familiar with their program. If you do not get an answer from the houseparents about home life issues, contact their Home Life Administrator. For academic issues, contact the appropriate school Principal. If you still have not received the feedback you need, the final option is your Coordinator for Family Relations: Jay Garvey at 800-283-0001
For general questions regarding MHS, call your Coordinator for Family Relations: Jay Garvey at 800-283-0001
Your first point of contact when it comes to your child should be their houseparents. If you cannot reach the houseparents in an emergency, your next call should be to the Home Life office:
If you need to contact your child during the school day, please call the school Principal:
For emergencies after normal business hours, please call our Campus Services Center at 717-520-2647
Parents and sponsors are an important part of ensuring student success at MHS. You are encouraged to stay in touch with your child through regular phone calls, emails, and visits to campus.
However, visits are limited to weekend days. MHS serves over 1,700 children and their families, so it is impossible to open campus for visits at any time. Your child is allowed to visit you at home during holiday breaks and five long-weekends in the school year. MHS also hosts several special family weekends and events throughout the year. You must talk to your child’s houseparents about requests for visits and holiday plans.
For our new students, we recommend that you do not visit them during their first four weeks. That gives them time to adjust to their new home and build relationships on campus.
Your child is allowed to visit you at home during holiday breaks and five long-weekends in the school year. You must talk to your child’s houseparents about visit requests and holiday plans.
Issues of custody, support, and any social services are reviewed on an individual basis. Each situation is different. To evaluate your situation, contact the appropriate division Coordinator of Student Health Services:
Homesickness can be a two-way street. When you or your child miss each other, please feel free to call one another. Remind yourselves why you made the commitment to MHS. Writing letters to your child on a regular basis will help as well. Plus, our students love to get mail! Children in Senior Division have email, which can be an easy way to touch base at any time.
You may also find our video resources helpful. It includes a video on dealing with homesickness.
If you did all these things and still have a hard time dealing with your child being away from home, don’t worry. Call your Coordinator for Family Relations: Jay Garvey at 800-283-0001
The best way to support your child is to keep positive. You should also talk openly with your child’s houseparents. This way you will know what is happening in your child’s life. You’ll be able to encourage and provide them with positive direction. Another way of supporting your child is attending Spartan Family Network meetings and Family Weekends. These are both excellent ways to learn about what is going on at MHS. They are also a chance to meet and talk with the adults involved in your child’s life at MHS.
There are many ways to communicate and show your love to your child. Regular phone calls, emails, and letters are all important. Spend time together on family weekends. Also, attending your child’s activities and games are great times to see their gifts and abilities in action. The greatest way to show your love is to remain committed to their enrollment at MHS. Remind each other that it will provide huge rewards in the future!
The Admissions Office does not keep copies of any applicant’s or student’s birth certificate or social security card to protect their privacy. If parents/sponsors are requesting information about how to obtain a copy of their child’s social security card or other important legal documents, they should contact the Divisional Senior Manager of Student Health Services at the following numbers to learn more about how to get that process started:
Parents and sponsors can register for the Parent Portal online to view student information, such as grades and assignments. It’s also the place to update your contact information, including email address.
You’ll receive log in information on your child’s enrollment day.
There is also a smartphone app to help you stay connected when you’re on the go. Simply download the Campus Parent app, then follow the steps to select Milton Hershey School.
If you need help logging into the Parent Portal or the app, send an email to: [email protected]
Houseparents: Your Questions Answered
Review the following answers to some of the most common questions asked by those interested in serving the students at Milton Hershey School as houseparents.
It’s a comprehensive, challenging, and rewarding role. Requirements include:
- Couples must be legally married for close to three years or more
- Twenty-seven years of age or more preferred for both spouses
- Minimum of high school diploma or GED
- No more than two dependent children in residence
- Demonstrated successful experience (paid or volunteer) working with children from socially and economically disadvantaged backgrounds
- Able and willing to work in student homes of either gender and any age group (pre-K through 12th grade)
- Ability to successfully complete an extensive clearance process
- Ability to meet the health and physical requirements of the position
- Driving records and credit history in good standing
- Effective verbal and written communication skills
- One dog may be permitted (certain breads prohibited)
MHS takes a holistic approach to the care of students. Houseparents care for the students physically, mentally, academically, socially, and emotionally. That means a busy weekly schedule with the students, including preparing meals, overseeing chores, helping with school work, and more. Houseparents do have unscheduled time during the school day, and weekends allow for a more relaxed schedule.
Houseparents ensure their residences and grounds are in good working order and are kept clean and neat. Houseparents oversee a chore program that engages students in home care, while also learning responsibility. Houseparents participate in chore completion with the students. Houseparents use an on-campus work-order system for home repairs and other maintenance.
Houseparents have many administrative responsibilities that include both student needs and operational matters. These include:
- Maintaining student records
- Scheduling appointments for students
- Administering student medications
- Ordering food from the campus distribution center
- Submitting work orders for needed repairs
- Communicating regularly with parents/sponsors
- Participating in meetings and trainings
Houseparents are responsible for most student transportation needs. They must maintain driving records in good standing. All houseparents are trained to drive the 10-passenger vans used for student transportation.
The school is founded on Judeo-Christian values. Houseparents lead the students in daily devotions. They also take them to the on-campus Sunday morning Chapel service. Proselytizing is not permitted.
Houseparents live in quality private apartments connected to their student homes. No more than two dependent children may live with a houseparent couple.
New houseparents are in “flex” status when they are first hired. This means they live in a private apartment, but work in a variety of homes until assigned a specific student home. When placed into a student home, they move into the apartment connected to that home.
Fish and/or a dog (of an approved breed) are permitted, with prior approval. Specific pet protocols must be followed. Once houseparents are placed in a home, certain breeds of dog are permitted with approval.
Overnight guests must be pre-approved and complete a clearance process. Illegal drugs and weapons are not permitted on campus. Alcohol is permitted in houseparent private apartments but houseparents may not use nor be under the influence of alcohol while on duty. The campus is non-smoking. Houseparents are required to carry personal renters’ and liability insurance coverage.
Yes, guests are permitted. Specific policies and procedures must be followed. Overnight guests must be pre-approved and complete a clearance process.
No. Houseparent children do not meet the qualifications to attend Milton Hershey School. Other school options include: Private, charter, cyber, and homeschooling.
Houseparents’ children attend the local schools. Derry Township and Lower Dauphin are the local school districts. Private schools also are available.
Couples work a schedule of 9 days on followed by three days off. The work schedule is subject to change to better meet student and programmatic needs.
Yes. Milton Hershey School maintains a year-round program for the students. The houseparent position is a 12-month role. Houseparents have a three-week vacation in the summer and additional time off during holiday breaks.
No. Houseparenting is full-time paid employment for both spouses. Holding other full-time jobs is not permitted. After a couple has completed their probationary period, part-time employment may be considered. Part-time employment may be considered with permission by supervisor.
Milton Hershey School provides competitive compensation and an excellent benefits package. Couples earn a combined income of at least $84,000. Additionally, the position includes housing, utilities, and food.
This position is represented by Chocolate Workers 464 Union. Dues of $30 per month are required of each houseparent.
Since this is a residential position working with students, the application process is lengthy and rigorous. Candidate couples begin the process by completing online applications. If applicants have issues or need accommodations, call 717-520-3359 or email [email protected] for assistance.
After both spouses apply for the houseparent position, a recruiter schedules a phone interview with qualified candidates. The next step in the process is an in-person campus visit and second interview. Extensive background clearances and medical checks are required for this position.
Still Have Questions?
Find out more through our resources.