Lawrenceville School review by Princeton University student. Lawrenceville gave me a wonderful education. Class size is about 12, on average, though I had classes as small as 7 and up to about 15 or 16 students. In all humanities classes, as well as some science classes, we sat around a Harkness table, an ovular table that seated all of the students in the class as well as the teacher. Harkness tables are meant to facilitate discussions, and to make the teacher a part of the discussion, rather than a leader who stands apart from his or her students. We were taught to discuss with each other and talk to everyone in the class, rather than answering questions directly to the teacher. No one raised their hands in discussion classes. I think the math department is Lawrenceville's weakest department. It's the one department whose faculty were regularly complained about among my peers. Although every department inevitably has a teacher or two who isn't particularly well liked (especially compared to some phenomenal teachers who are absolutely adored by the vast majority of their students), I found that math teachers were complained about far more often than they were liked. It's difficult for me to say which department is the strongest, because I had fantastic teachers and wonderful experiences in almost every department. Teachers at Lawrenceville really cared about their students and were always there to help. At Lawrenceville, you really form strong, close relationships with a lot of the faculty, which I think is a truly wonderful thing. The work load is very heavy, though I think that perhaps one of the most important things Lawrenceville taught me was how to prioritize. You learn that you probably are never going to be able to do everything you are assigned, especially when you take extracurricular activities and the lights out policy into account, so you learn which readings to skim, and which ones you need to actually do carefully. You learn that if you are doing well in a math or science class, perhaps its best to only do some of the problems, rather than all of them, and devote more time to classes that you don't understand as well. Especially in upper level courses, you are very responsible for your own work schedule. Like in college, assignments weren't due that often in many Lawrenceville classes, especially at higher levels. A lot of the time, you just had reading to do every night. If you didn't do it, you were disadvantaged in class the next day because you might not know quite was going on, but unless you had a pop quiz, nothing happened to you if you didn't read. Even if you had a pop quiz on the previous night's reading, everyone did really poorly on a pop quiz or two, and they played only a small role in determining your actual grade. You were responsible for deciding what work to do, and often when to do it, and I think that this prepares students very well for college. I also think that Lawrenceville leads you into this system gradually, with more hand-holding in lower level classes, and then more independence in higher level courses. Even in AP classes, Lawrenceville rarely taught to the exam. In my AP history and science classes, I felt prepared for the exams and comfortable with the format, because we did discuss the exams and prepare for them with practice exercises, but I felt like the exam preparation was secondary to actually learning the subject of the course at a high level. The only class that I took that I felt was really taught to the AP was my AP French class. Students are driven and work hard, and are somewhat competitive, certainly, but not in a negative sense. Students are happy to collaborate and help each other out. I never felt that there were students who were unwilling to help other people out of a selfish desire to do better than everyone else. I'm sure a few of those students exist, but they are very rare.
At Lawrenceville, students live in houses of 30-50 students of the same gender. Freshmen live separately, then sophomores and juniors are housed together, and then seniors live either in freshmen or sophomore/junior housing as prefects, or they live in separate senior housing. Faculty members live in the houses as housemasters and provide a strong support system for students. Day students are assigned to a house and have a locker room there, so the house system is really one of the main parts of Lawrenceville life. Students tend to have a lot of house pride, and there are lots of events between houses, such as intramural sports. At the end of each year, there is an award for the most athletic house (a combination of points based on varsity, jv, and intramural sports) and for the house with the best GPA, and both of these awards are a very big deal among students. Lawrenceville is in a very safe, small town. "On Campus" includes the downtown area across the street, with several stores and restaurants. On weekends and Wednesday afternoons, students can take the bus off campus and go into Princeton. Students come from a variety of socio-economic backgrounds, due to the financial aid that Lawrenceville offers. Lawrenceville's campus is beautiful and most of the academic buildings are very nice. Lots of the classrooms have smartboards in them. The library is wonderful, as are the arts facilities. Dining services are pretty good, offering a lot of choice for students. Freshmen and Seniors have separate dining halls, and there is a main dining hall for sophomores and juniors, which freshmen and seniors also use on the weekends, when their dining halls are closed. The senior dining hall has particularly good food. In addition to hot entrees and a salad and deli bar, there are "do-it-yourself" stations at every meal so that students can make their own stir fry, pancakes, omelettes, etc. The school tries hard to provide a range of social events for students. On an average weekend, there will be performances of some sort, and a couple of big activities like dances. Individual houses put on their own social events as well. Sporting events are popular social events, especially hockey and basketball games in the winter
Lawrenceville offers practically every extracurricular imaginable. Every trimester, students are required to participate in a sport of some sort: this can be a varsity/JV sport, or it can be an intramural sport, or an activity such as dance or martial arts. Our main rival for athletics is the Hill School in Pottstown, PA. In addition to the strong athletic program, Lawrenceville has a strong performing arts program. I participated in several of their large fall musicals, as well as several student-directed productions, and they were always popular among students and well done. The school provides a lot of support for the performing arts department. There are lots of opportunities for students to get involved in theater and dance productions, even if theater or dance are not their main extracurricular, which was nice because it allowed people the chance to perform without dedicating themselves to it entirely. Because of the sports requirement, theater rehearsals and other extracurriculars take place in the evenings, after athletic practices, so no one has to choose between being an athlete and participating in other activities as they would have to do at many high schools. Lawrenceville has a beautiful music building and a wonderful music program as well. Private instructors come to campus and private lessons are offered at a very good price. Lessons are generally held during free periods, so I was able to take flute, piano, and voice lessons, and to participate in the Woodwind Ensemble. There is also an Orchestra, a Jazz band, and several vocal groups. Student publications are popular, and in addition to a weekly newspaper and a yearbook (two activities that I was actively involved in), there are several student-run magazines.