Hill Schoolreview by Columbia University student. I'm a science-oriented person and The Hill School has prepared a good foundation for me in math and science although it does not have diverse choices in advanced courses. Humanities and arts are indeed practical for me as an international student since they provide overall ideas of how liberal education would influence in daily life. This issue is very useful in college as I have to take some core courses which are humanities and arts. The school's teaching philosophy is much like Columbia's curriculum which emphasizes on liberal education as it requires courses in various fields. Some are absolutely different from my perspective major. Both lectures and discussions are focused in different scenarios but with effective application. For example, literature classes are almost absolutely based on discussions, pretty much like in the college. The class size is pretty small, especially in discussion classes. It gets larger in lecture ones but it does not matter in learning. The immediate after-class-questioning is hardly possible due to the very short time in class transition but I can use school e-mail to ask questions or arrange private appointment to faculty members. The work load is pretty high but it is not a problem for a daily regular basis. The small and intimate community allows students to communicate with each other and faculty members easily so it helps a lot with academic difficulties. Talented students are supported by fair number of advanced courses although I don't think it is very diverse.
The dorm life at Hill is memorable. Although the room is quite small but the intimate atmosphere at the dorm allows me to communicate with my friends in both academic and non-academic issues. For the school cafeteria, most people always criticize about the food and the formal lunch/dinner but I personally think that the food is pretty good and the formal lunch/dinner emphasizes the sense of the school's community. Neighborhood area is not really safe as I often heard about crime but the campus area is quite isolated and secured by tons of security officers. The library is pretty small and the lab is quite old but they are still able to accommodate all students. Student center is the main area all students gather and hang out. At the student center, There is a grill that students can buy snacks and light food. I have no exact idea about socio-economic background of the student body but I believe that most of them are capable to pay for the tuition while some receive scholarship from the school. It might be because I do not feel any discrimination on the socio-economic basis. For the faculty members, most of them live on campus and they get relatively high salaries. School's surrounding neighborhood is kind of the opposite so the safety outside the campus is an issue you should be aware of. At Hill I had an academic adviser whom I can discuss about academic issues and other general problems I did not know whom I should talk to. There will be a 40-minute period each week for adviser meeting. A dorm parent was someone I could discuss about my residential problems. Both of them, for me, are two main figures who I was confident to talk to when I had any difficulties at any time and they were willing to help by all means. School's culture emphasizes on the sense of integrity of school's community. For example, formal lunch/dinner provides opportunity for school's members to know new people. Rival school's week was also awesome. Series of activities were held to evoke the sense of being "Hill" as a small but strong community with academic and residential integrity. This sort of culture motivates all students to contribute positively to the school as they feel they are parts of this community. For the school's approach to discipline, it is quite rigid. Violating some rules might mean you can be kicked out without any further investigation (e.g. alcohol issues). Demerit system is employed and it's easy to get one (for instance, being 30-second late). Four demerits lead to detention. The harsh rule of the school makes me self-disciplined so I was forced to work and work. It would be very tiring at first but later I got used to it until I realized Hill's "always busy" principle.
Community is the first priority of the campus life. Students "must" adapt to the school community, with the help of faculty members, otherwise they cannot live happily in the school. When I was at Hill, people always told me that "You will be always busy at Hill" and it was absolutely true. The schedule is crammed and busy since you are required to study and participate in extra-curricular activities such as sports, music, and arts. I hardly had free time there and this was suffering at the beginning. However, when I was used to it, I had fun with these activities and became enthusiastic to learn something new since it allows me to know other people in the school. As I have mentioned, the more I felt integrated to the community, the more happily I lived at the school. A typical student spends about ten hours on extra-curricular activities, mostly sports. Arts and music are pretty much lie in the academic schedule but you can substitute the sport time with art or music project. This balance contributes to good results as they prepare students to be well-rounded. "You will be always busy at Hill" renders me a busy person who wants to experience something new.