Phillips Exeter Academy review by Dartmouth College student. Phillips Exeter Academy is based on the Harkness teaching philosophy, which encourages students to teach themselves. This is an amazing way to learn if you are ready to take responsibility for your high school experience and have a natural curiosity with regards to academia. Classes are typically 12 students and one teacher. Because you live and learn with faculty, they are extremely accessible and you forge relationships with teachers on multiple levels. That said, the Exeter lifestyle is difficult. This is not a school for the faint of heart. Students are competitive and the atmosphere can be cut-throat. If you strive on competition, you will do great.
Exeter is a small town on the seacoast of New Hampshire. It has lots of small town quirks, like the tiny movie theater that includes an intermission in each show. The town is within walking distance of campus and many students walk into town for lunch at one of the many sandwich shops. The town is very safe, although the school has taken typical safety measures, including blue lights and card-protected dorms. In recent years, the school has tried hard to make itself appear more social. The truth is, with so much going on, including classes and sports events on Saturdays, there is little down time at the Academy. Saturday nights typically include either a dance or a school event like a hypnotist, or hanging out at "The Grille" in the student center. Exeter is more diverse than my Ivy League school, both socio-economically and ethnically. During my freshman year, I lived with a girl on full scholarship from Long Island, and next door to a girl from Korea who learned English by watching Sesame Street.
Exeter has everything. Quite literally, the school rivals many colleges in the depth of extracurriculars that are available: sports, theater, publications, spiritual clubs, general interest clubs, an incredible volunteering organization. You name it, they've got it. And if not, you can start it! I found my stride on the cycling team and weekly newspaper. I would not have started cycling had I stayed at my public high school. Through the support of my coach and teammates, I went on to become a two-time New England Prep School Champion and a three-time team MVP. I also worked my way up through the newspaper to become part of the first-ever double female Editor-in-Chief team. I contributed to my dorm by working as a proctor during my senior year.