Lakefield College Schoolreview by McGill University student. Lakefield prepared me extremely well for university. In my opinion, one of the school's biggest strengths is their Social Science department. I saw very good grades on my papers and written assignments throughout my first year at McGill because of Lakefield's stellar instruction on essay writing and document based questions. Anyone going into the Humanities or Social Sciences will quickly realize that the ability to interpret documents and write about them clearly and with purpose is what separates the wheat from the chaff in first year. When it comes to competing for spaces in a Political Science major or whatever you may be interested in, your papers are what will really impress your professors. The small class sizes at Lakefield and the way teachers frequently use discussion as a teaching method also helped me immeasurably. Conferences and tutorials can be absolutely painful in first year university, because students are so used to the teacher telling them what to think that when a TA asks them to discuss what they've read, they have no idea how to come up with their own thoughts. In most of my courses, participation in conference counts for a good chunk of your mark, so this is something a university student needs to be prepared for. If your TA likes you and thinks you're smart, it goes a long way. One of the best things about Lakefield is the opportunities that are available. Talk to any of your teachers after class and they can help you learn so much more about what you're interested in than just what's on the syllabus. Most teachers hold extra help sessions at least once a week if not more, and these are great because if you're having trouble with the material you can get help, and if you want to discuss topics or learn more about a certain subject, they are more than happy to talk. Especially in the upper years, teachers become more like colleagues. The atmosphere at Lakefield is much more relaxed than any other private school I've been to, and for me it really encouraged learning and growth. The best thing about Lakefield is that the teachers allow you to find your niche and encourage you to follow your passions.
The teachers and students at Lakefield are mostly liberal, although there are always enough conservatives to provide for good discussion. Community service, debates and presentations about social justice and current affairs are ingrained in the student culture and are frequently the subject of Chapel (Lakefield's morning assembly takes place in the Chapel). There are many wealthy families represented in the student body, but most are not super-rich or snobby, and typically the students have a distaste for overt class-based bigotry, owing mostly to the liberal leanings of the campus. Personally I think that the school's approach to discipline is at a happy medium. The school operates mostly on the expectation of mutual respect between teachers and students, but things like alcohol and drug possession on campus are not tolerated. Typical consequences include "reflection", somewhat like detention, for day students who skip Chapel.
Lakefield makes sure that everyone participates in at least one extra curricular by requiring you to chose a sport each term. However the more dramatically inclined can also choose to audition for the play (one in Fall, one in Spring) and do that instead of a sport if they are given a role. Lakefield is good preparation for life because each activity is rather demanding. Teachers will tell you academics must be your first priority, coaches will tell you the same about their team. Lakefield students quickly learn how to balance their time because they are forced to - the school makes few concessions for those who manage their time poorly. If you didn't have time to study for a test, I guess you should have managed your time better - it's your loss. I think this is a very good skill for university-bound students to learn as it can be very tough to juggle a full schedule at university. Lakefield also provides an atmosphere where people can become well rounded because you always have the opportunity to try something new in the next term or the next year, and the teachers don't pigeon hole you as "a hockey player" or "a drama kid" - in fact I remember several hockey players dancing in the winter Dance Showcase over the last number of years. I participated in Drama, dance, music, and art for the most part, but also participated in yoga, skiing, basketball and field hockey at different points.