Phillips Exeter Academy review by Harvard University student: The academic program at Phillips Exeter Academy is very rigorous, however, it is becomes manageable because of the openness and accessibility of the teachers. Every single faculty member desires for its students to succeed and offers special sessions after classes or in their homes to review any problems or questions you might have about the coursework. Exeter's is strong in every single area, but during my time, I believe that the humanities had an edge. Exeter is well-known for the Harkness Table, which emphasizes the participation of students leading discussions and solving problems together. The teacher is more of a guide in the learning process and ensures that the class is working in the right direction. During my senior year, Dan Brown, the author of "The Da Vinci Code" taught an English class that received very positive reviews from my classmates. The teacher to student ratio during my time was around 11 to 1 which made the learning experience that much more stronger. The average work load is such that you receive very few hours of sleep, but the key behind homework assignments and projects is to help us become critical thinkers that are able to effectively solve problems.
Exeter has a wealth and diversity of organizations ranging from ethnic to athletic to religious. There is something for everyone and in addition, the administration allows students to create their own organizations. I was primarily involved in student government, which allowed me to create effective change for the school and it also gave me the opportunity to strengthen relationships with faculty members as well. It also taught me great lessons in leadership, which formed the basis for the type of work I'm involved in today. The school was also very generous when it came to funding organizations and any events they wanted to hold. The process required filling out an extensive application and meeting with the school officers who managed the budget. This was one of the key ways in which students were able to make their mark on the school. Assemblies were held 3 days a week and often times, guest speakers were brought in my the membership of the school's most active clubs.
The quality of life at Exeter was excellent because the community was so open and supportive. The dorms were beautiful and the rooms became better and better after freshman year. The common room in the dormitories was a fantastic hang out place to interact with other members of the dorm and take a break from intense studying. Also, the dorm heads often had BBQs or sporting events to bring the entire community together for some fun and relaxation. These were the moments that tightened the bonds amongst students and the memories that many graduates carry from the institution -- the relationships formed during stressful classes/examinations and dorm events. The school cafeteria became better as the years went on. Once a semester, Exeter would bring in top chefs that would cook delicious dinners based on various themes. One of the most popular themes was Jazz Brunch during the winter, which was the favorite of all the students. The facilities at the Academy are top notch. I really don't think there is a better school in this department. Exeter has the largest library which was designed by the famous architect, Louis Kahn. The renovated science center has the newest laboratories, computer labs, projectors, and technologically advanced classrooms. It must be the most comprehensive science center in the nation right now. The athletic facilities are also high quality. An abundance of tennis courts, soccer fields, football stadium, basketball courts and a newly renovated squash center make up the bulk of the facilities. The ethnic and socio-economic background of the school is diverse and the Academy has made wide-ranging efforts to improve upon this over the years. If your family makes less that $75,000 per year, then the student can attend the Academy for free. Scholarship money abounds for talented students and this matches up with the mission of the school which is to source talent from all ends of the earth. The student body is also very international, which I think is absolutely critical in an increasingly globalized economy. The experience at Exeter is unmatched and made a much greater difference in my life and the lives of many of my peers then their years in college.
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