Miss Porter's School review by Bowdoin College student: Miss Porter's School was very strong in the humanities while I attended. The English, history, and language teachers were all very enthusiastic and encouraged their students to pursue interest in their disciplines. The sciences were not as strong, but the courses prepared me well enough for standardized testings. They, however, did not prepare me well enough for the academic rigors of the sciences at Bowdoin college. I feel they did not apply the materials well or challenged the students enough. Science material was simply taught and memorized on the most part. Math classes, on the other hand, were challenging. The school even offered multiple variable calculus, a course not many high schools offer for students who passed BC calculus junior year. Finally, visual art classes were above and beyond. Teachers were amazingly talented and the courses offered were incredibly interesting. Science and math classes were mostly lecture-based. Humanities classes were more discussion. However, I felt all classes had the appropriate amount of discussion and lecture. The biggest class I was in was no more than 15 people and most of the teachers were very accessible. The average work load wasn't very heavy compared to an average college work load. We were very scheduled, but the work was always doable within a 2 hour study hall. Support is provided for everyone. There are peer tutors and hired tutors. Teachers hold extra office hours and review sessions. For advanced students, I was offered extra office hours to learn and be more challenged in my math class. Whatever you needed, the teachers were able to provide, for the most part.
I didn't use my college counselor as much as I could have. Some who used their counselor more than I did did very well in their college acceptances. They asked a lot of questions and had the means to look at a number of schools on breaks. The process started second semester junior year and we met with our counselors at least 5 times throughout the process for regular meetings. More meetings were scheduled usually. For me, no restrictions were applied to me. I applied to a lot of reach schools, which ultimately hurt my chances, but my counselor didn't think I would have a problem overall. My advisor wasn't as interested in my candidacy I don't think because I didn't use her very much. If I had shown more interest, like some of my classmates, she would have been much more interested. My teachers, on the other hand, provided more help and wrote wonderful letters of recommendations for me. My advisor was very helpful, connected, and experienced. I just feel I didn't need to use her as much.
A typical application was used with interview and essays. The school isn't very selective, but I noticed each student at Porter's was gifted in some way if they were not gifted in academics - arts, sports, personality, etc. The school doesn't favor a particular type of student. Everyone is pretty well-rounded. Parents should take an active role in the admissions process, but should not be overbearing. That would leave a very bad impression on the student, not just the parent. The parents should have the student communicate with the school as much as she can.
The music department at Miss Porter's, I felt, was the weakest. It improved slowly, but without a large student capacity, there was only an orchestra and no band. The chorus was decent. The advanced performance ensemble was the school's pride and glory, but it was selective. Other than that, extracurriculars played an important role in our experience at MPS. We were all required to take up a sport or participate in a sport class. We were also required to do community service and participate in an 80 hour educational program over our longer breaks. There were a lot of clubs that met on a regular basis. Overall, extracurricular activities made up a very large part of our daily schedules. It helped shape the us into very well-rounded individuals.
We were very spoiled with the dormitories the school provided. The rooms are large and we lived in large mansions, pretty much. The dorm parents were always there for us when we needed. The school cafeteria/dinning had decent food - wasn't horrible, and the other facilities were top-notch. There was a large diversity of students and diversity was emphasized in leadership, etc. MPS is known for its traditions and close community. Everyone was welcoming to everyone, despite being a school full of teenage girls.
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