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Phillips Exeter Academy

Student rating 4.8/ 5 by Princeton University student
20 Main Street Exeter NH 03833 United States


Phillips Exeter Academyreview by Princeton University student. Exeter prides itself on its academic rigor and prestige. I went to the school expecting it to have a single focus or bent, but found that it really excels in the humanities, sciences, and math. It is amazing to see the depth and breadth of teachers we have at Exeter, and the sheer amount of knowledge they are able to bestow upon us in those short 50-minute classes. The math classes, I thought, were taught very well since Exeter uses its own textbook and goes through rigorous proofs (completely student-based too!) of all mathematical concepts we take for granted. The humanities courses are 10% the teacher talking, 90% the students. It's amazing to see how much you can learn from your classmates' close interpretations of the text because there are ways of approaching the same material that a single person simply cannot think of. The Harkness method is an Exeter staple, and it prepares you very well for college. Because every single class at Exeter is discussion-based, with teachers and students dialoguing as equals, Exonians are very well prepared for discussion-based classes in college. I know that in my precepts (small classroom discussions) in college, maybe three or four students even dare speak up when the preceptor asks a question, whereas at Exeter, everybody participates. Learning to speak with poise, clarity, and purpose early on is an invaluable skill that will stay with me for the remainder of my academic career, and beyond. Class sizes never exceeded 12, as most ranged from 9-11. I remember one of my classes senior spring being a one-on-one with my favorite teacher. Exeter has great teachers who are all willing to take time out of their regular teachings hours to meet individually with students who are struggling. I often scheduled appointments with my teachers in their living rooms (many teachers will on campus in dorms), where I'd discuss my ideas about an essay, questions about a reading, or anything related to life, all over some milk and cookies. It's a very warm and open environment. 4. Exeter is, I think, very well known for its math and science programs. I think, though, that its humanities program is just as strong, if not more. Being able to discuss the nuances of classic authors EVERY SINGLE CLASS for English, or analyzing primary sources in History left me to think independently and form my own ideas. I would say that every graduate of Exeter leaves with a very strong analytical and independent mind.

College Counseling

The college counselors definitely guided me.… Get the real inside story on college couseling at Phillips Exeter Academy, LOGIN or SIGN UP

Sample insights on college counseling
  • "They have contacts at most of the major universities and feel perfectly comfortable picking up the phone and advocating for a student to get accepted somewhere they feel is a good fit for that student. However, these counselors are certainly not magic bullets. They cannot guarantee that a student will get into an Ivy League university…"
  • "For those wishing to move on to Oxford or Cambridge, the provision is second-to-none. In the months running up to application and interview, every subject faculty offers classes (often run by former Oxbridge tutors) exploring further areas of their subject as well as offering advice on personal statements, interview technique and more…"

Admissions - Getting Accepted

Be confident, be ambitious. Many aspects.… Get insights and advice on admissions to Phillips Exeter Academy, LOGIN or SIGN UP

Sample insights on admissions
  • "Most younger siblings have an easy time in the admissions process. I can only think of one case of a younger sibling not being admitted. About half of the students who entered with me had come from public schools. The remainder came from private K-6 schools, or had transfered from other New York private schools The Elizabeth Morrow School and St. Bernard's were two of the larger feeder schools…"
  • "For the interview, dress conservatively. Try to be very clean and put together. Also, I was a tour guide for two years and at the end of every tour, we were asked to evaluate the candidate so if you think the tour is not apart of the process, you are very wrong. Ask questions and be interested. Also, tip for the parents*the kids speak on the tour. Don't ask their questions for them because their evaluation will be affected by the fact that the guides didn't hear a thing from the kid…"

School Life

Exeter is home to one of the greatest pastors, spiritual counselors, and friends that I have ever met. His name Rev. Bob Thompson, but we just call him "Rev." His love of singing, food, and people is ever-contagious, and his presence just makes the campus a brighter place. He is one of those people whom I will remember forever, and Exeter is blessed to have him helping to shepherd the student body. Exeter is very fair in its approach to discipline. Most of the time, if you got caught with alcohol or plagiarism, you would get called up to the discipline committee. Depending on your severity of your violation, you could get a very strong warning and probation, at which point if you get caught again you are forced to withdraw from the school. I can't think of too many people who were asked to withdraw without several disciplinary cases, and so in that regard, Exeter gives people "second chances." The ethnic composition of Exeter is very diverse, though I would say that among the black minorities, there is an interesting mix of international Africans and US-born African Americans. The socio-economic background is varied, for sure, but there are no instances where it would become too obvious. For anything that would require money, the school is very generous. I remember that, through the Classics department, several of my friends were fully funded for a spring break trip to Rome.

Exeter's main social service body is called ESSO. Under it, there are a number of different student clubs, all advocating different social issues, whether locally in Exeter, New Hampshire, or abroad. I can remember about three or four times throughout the year when students were pro-active about advocating certain human rights issues through protest demonstrations, symposia, or newsletters. The level of involvement in extra-curricular activities really varies. For what you would consider a "well-rounded" individual who is (most likely) Ivy-league bound, four-five hours of extracurricular involvement would be pretty typical. I know students who devoted 10+ hours to their activities, especially for those working for the school newspaper (The Exonian), but they were outliers.