Phillips Exeter Academy review by Dartmouth College student. There is definitely an amazing depth of courses offered in the sciences and math departments at Phillips Exeter Academy. There are few high schools in the country that can offer multivariable calculus, linear algebra, game theory, group theory, number theory, as well as organic chemistry, and fantastic resources for independent research. Personally I felt that the huge volume of high level courses encouraged people to be competitive to reach the next level, but it was not a pervasive spirit of cutthroat academics. As a student your peers are very open and supportive, and possibly one of the biggest resources you can have, which is saying a lot because the teachers take it to the next level. Class sizes are between 8-12 and the Harkness method means that you spend a significant portion of each class period advancing and defending points, often debating with the teacher as a peer. Teachers live on campus and generally are available to meet for lunch or any other mutually free time to discuss the material, suggest helpful tips, or just shoot the breeze. Exams are important but making good points and thinking on your feet in class are the most important. Workloads can be a little heavy at some points, especially for students adjusting to private school for the first time, but you quickly develop strong study skills and learn to manage your time and settle into a comfortable equilibrium.
Housing is great, dorm life is amazing, you meet the best friends of your life there and become so close with them. Living a dorm with mixed classes for 4 years means you get help form the upperclassmen and act as an example/mentor for the younger kids. The social events are frequent and well funded/attended. School cafeteria know as the dining hall is first rate, not always up to home cooked meal standards but it has decent variety and specials and is free, all you can eat open all day. Exeter, NH is a small, quiet New England town, there is almost no crime, however it does lack a diverse cultural experience, however the school itself is very diverse. Dozens of ethnic clubs host cultural events all year round and the whole student body is welcome to come learn about their traditions and help celebrate them together. You learn so much more about other cultures/religions that you wonder how people can not learn about these amazing things that are not their own traditions.
Sports teams are top notch, so are community service projects. ESSO (community service group) is very well organized and almost every possible idea has its own group and if it doesn't exist yet you can get funding to make it happen. I believe that every student at some point voluntarily participates during their school career. Beyond the serious clubs like community service and sports teams, there are literally hundreds of fun ones like ballroom dancing, swing dance, Frisbee, cooking club, and every other interest you could find as well as religious and ethnic clubs. The rivalry with Philips Andover is huge, with homecoming games held every fall alternating campuses and it is a big fun festival style atmosphere. The biggest experience I had was being on the Cross Country team, competing for a team is a great experience, even more so when you have alums who return to cheer on the team, coaches that are amazing, I was coached for 4 years by 2 olympians, Mark Coogan (1996 Atlanta Marathon) and Gwyn Coogan (1992 Barcelona 10000m).