Lawrenceville School review by Georgetown University student. The whole Harkness table methodology at Lawrenceville School is definitely a plus for the humanities and history side of things. The history teachers are really into experiencing/discussing history, rather than memorizing it. The history department is by far the strongest all around: for APs (Advanced Placements), for a general learning experience. For example, all the US history teachers just did a workshop at Princeton. And they stay involved. Ranked on down, from best to worst, the departments go: English, Language, Science, Math, then the Arts (though they're mostly in their own category). The English department and the language department once again have the benefit of discussing as opposed to lecturing. Spanish class was one of the first classes in my life I've actually looked forward to at Lawrenceville. Lawrenceville is definitely not the school for an extremely talented artist looking to do big things with their talent. It's one of those big fish, small pond things. Though if you care enough or are passionate enough about your talent, you can use the resources the school has to make it better (more on that in extracurricular activities). Again, because of the Harkness table, classes can only be a maximum of 14. I've had only one class that size in my entire career there. The workload definitely depends on the classes you take, but if you follow college counseling's advice, be prepared for a decent amount as the grades go on...about almost an hour a class by senior year. But the School weans kids off of middle school academic mentality into a college mentality very effectively, with the three hardest freshman fall classes becoming pass/fail for that term. Faculty are always accessible...they will be your history teacher, house football coach, and then housemaster all at the same time, so you will quite literally see some teachers (and their families) at least 5 hours a day whether you want to or not. And quite often teachers have students into their homes for cookies and discussion on history or to show a great history movie. Lawrenceville School's academics is definitely learning-oriented...some classes designated "Honors" are made to prepare for the AP, but they often go above and beyond the requirements of the AP teaching more thoroughly, rather than factually. The student body isn't really competitive...as a matter of fact one will notice that a student that seems to be just an athlete or an artist or a socialite is actually quite talented academically, and very humble about it. I haven't started college yet, but I feel like the difficulty of an academic course load can only go down from Lawrenceville's junior and senior years.
The house system is the coolest residential thing about Lawrenceville...basically it's like the Harry potter dorms (it was based off the British model). Instead of living in a dorm, students live in a house of about 40 or so other guys or girls. Each house has its own unique appearance and its own rivalries and traditions. This is where the closest friends are made. The dining is pretty awesome...mostly because there are so many options available. Our executive chef just started his own company that now runs the schools dining...sustainable fare. Everything is basically bought fresh, and local. All the buildings are either new or recently renovated. The campus is honestly one of the nicest campuses in the country...it can be compared to colleges. Most colleges will be a downgrade from Lawrenceville's campus. Even Georgetown, which has a great campus, may be a downgrade from Lawrenceville's natural campus (a lot of which was designed by Frederick Law Olmstead, designer of Central Park). The school's student body definitely largely reflects the "preppy" stereotype...most kids are decently well-off. However, the School makes a strong effort to provide financial aid for those who need it, including laptops, a book account, and an allowance that comes from that book account. The School tries to blur the stereotypical socio-economic lines. Still, Lawrentians can tend to be of the preppy, sometimes arrogant, type.
The school has a HUGE range of extracurricular activities...sports are required after school (there are easier sports requirements for those non-athletes). But besides sports, there's theatre, music ensembles (choir, orchestra, etc.), school newspaper, literary magazine, newspaper, etc... and definitely lots of random clubs like the M.E.A.T (Mankind eating animals together) club, the anime club, Asian Student Organization, Alliance of Black Cultures, Cross-Culture Club, plenty of opportunities for community service (40 hour requirement over the 4 years; not that hard to fill at all...I had over 250). When it comes to college preparation, and simple time management, it is best to not only get involved in a range of activities, but to also begin to put a foot forward and start to take leadership positions in a few areas. Once you do this, you can begin to fully take advantage of the resources the school has to offer. For example, I am an artist, so as I took leadership roles, I wrote my own musical show, put together my own a Capella festival involving 6 other schools and a few colleges, organized a performing arts community service camp, and directed a couple quartets on my own, all through the support of the school. Periwig is the school's oldest club (I was vice-president) and has no rivalries...it's probably the most fun to get involved in even if just for a little bit. The activities are so numerous. There is a clubs night at the beginning of the year each year. I think the most important thing to do as far as extracurricular activities go is to sign up for the mailing lists for all the clubs you have a remote interest in, and the list will begin to self-narrow, and those you are passionate about will begin to rise.