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St. Johns Country Day School

School rating 3.6 / 5 by

3100 Doctors Lake Drive Orange Park FL 32073 United States
Boarding
None to None
Day
PK to 12th
Gender
Coed

Academic

St. Johns Country Day School review by .

St Johns has a supportive atmosphere, and although there's some competition, especially at the very top, I found it to be a good, healthy way to give myself a little extra incentive. There's no jostling for class rank after the valedictorian spot. In terms of the courses and faculty, two things stick out. First, small classes sizes mean faculty often teach the same students in very small classes for several years, and will often go far out of their way for students that demonstrate interest in their subjects. However, the small classes also mean that many common AP classes aren't offered. The school's strength is definitely more on the humanities side of things. They don't offer AP chemistry or AP Calc BC; and there's only one of the three AP Physics options. When I was there, the middle school science program was really awful, and several of my science teachers were not prepared to do more than give pre-planned lessons out of a textbook, but I think it has improved since then. The high school science department has always been a little better, although there's been significant turnover in the teaching staff in all departments recently. On the humanities side, though, the school offers AP Spanish Language, Latin Literature, and French Language. They don't offer Spanish or French Literature normally, but the foreign language department is really excellent, and a dedicated student could probably get the regular AP teacher to coach him through one of the Literature exams. The Latin teacher did that for me in the last year that Latin Literature and Vergil were separate, when I wanted to take the old literature exam. The English department is also good, and what social science there is is excellent. However, the school doesn't offer any of the AP economics or government classes, and the teachers who teach the regular, semester long economics and government classes don't seem to be as interested in going out of their way for students as the foreign language department. The only of the AP history class offered is US History-- students study world history for two years, but without the option for preparing for the AP exam, and European History and Human Geography are not taught. The art department is very encouraging and welcoming, and students are encouraged to work on pieces at all hours, which means people with the talent and inclination often produce really spectacular pieces. The drama and music departments provide students with a lot of opportunities to participate in the performing arts, but the small class size and somewhat scattered leadership mean that performances can sometimes be less than perfect. It's a good, low-stakes experience that produces well-rounded students-- I got a lot out of it-- but if you're seriously into drama, chorus, or band, or especially dance, you will probably find yourself frustrated. The math department has several tracks, which allow students of all comfort levels to proceed at their own pace, but as I mentioned before, the fastest track only gets students through calc AB by senior year. Students can skip ahead and take Calc BC online, and the school will honor those credits. Most teachers are supportive and helpful, and thrilled to provide extra opportunities for students who demonstrate interest. Full time teachers are always available for students who need extra help as well, and the small class size means students don't usually fall through the cracks. There is also a system of peer tutoring through the national honor society. I felt completely prepared for college-- I actually found freshman year of college to be easier than senior year of high school. I placed out of everything I could have placed out of (foreign language and writing requirements), and wrote good, A-range essays my first semester, even before I took the mandatory university writing seminar my second semester. However, I don't think I would have felt quite so prepared if I were going into math or science (I'm a political science major with a minor in Spanish and a language certificate in Portuguese). I would have placed into the second level of Math (most people have calc BC and place into the fourth or fifth), and I would have placed into the first level of chemistry and biology, had I gone into those tracks. I couldn't have skipped introductory economics even if I had taken St Johns' economics course. However, a friend of mine who initially did biochemical engineering at a top engineering school says that he felt prepared as far as study skills and such went, only behind in the actual material for not having had AP Chemistry or Calc BC. Top students at St Johns who participate in sports and art and other extra-curriculars (as most people do) rarely ever find themselves busier than they were senior year. Our time management and self-discipline skills will probably never be an issue for us.

College Counseling

St Johns's college counseling is excellent for middle of the road students whose reach school....

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

I don't think there's an admission process; I think it's more of a check-writing process.....

Sample insights on admissions

  • 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. Do not ask their questions for them...
  • 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 transferred from other New York private schools The Elizabeth Morrow School and St. Bernard were two of the larger feeder schools...

School Life

The culture on campus is unselfconsciously wealthy and very conservative. It turns out my parents are better off than I ever thought they were, but I often felt like most of my friends had more money than I did. It wasn't a bad thing, it was just a little weird at times. There are a lot of optional school trips to Europe, for example, that cost thousands of dollars, and some people go on all of them. Other people go on none of them, and that's fine. There are hundreds of dollar trips (like a....

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