Phillips Exeter Academy review by MIT student. Phillips Exeter's academics are excellent. It's the kind of thing that must be experienced to be appreciated - reputation does it only partial justice. I transferred there after a year in public school, and the differences are dramatic. Classes are always tiny, fit around a Harkness table (our educational hallmark - the school's own literature will tell you plenty about it), so teachers are naturally accessible. The personal understanding between teachers and students is truly unique and gives valuable guidance to students who are finding their own roles as scholars and citizens. The curriculum is aimed at creating well-rounded graduates. Expect hard work in all subjects. But it is all (hopefully) with personal satisfaction in the end, not to mention excellent preparation for college life.
The town of Exeter is small and quiet, far from crime and other disturbances. The school aims to be self-contained. As such, it provides all the living comforts, dining, weekend entertainment, and social stimulation that one needs. It succeeds for the most part, but when something different is in order, there are the necessary shops and restaurants in town. Trips to the seaside and to Boston are preferred by some, although I never did much of that myself.
Exeter competes at the highest league in most sports. Some unusual ones include squash, rowing, and water polo. Competition is usually with other prep schools (Andover, St. Pauls, etc), most notably the one Saturday in November where all the fall sports teams will play in the Exeter/Andover games, the oldest high school sports rivalry in the country. Music and theatre departments are also extremely active and top quality (last I checked, a few recordings could be found on the school website). Though the school is not geared towards training musicians and such, a few each year never fail to go on to music and fine arts colleges. Club offerings are as many as there are students; I will not try to name them here but simply suggest a perusal of the school viewbook.