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Taft School

School rating 4.3 / 5 by

110 Woodbury Road Watertown CT 06795 United States
Boarding
9th to PG
Day
9th to PG
Gender
Coed

Academic

Taft School review by .

Learning in the humanities was almost exclusively discussion based. In literature and history courses, homework would be reading with a discussion to follow the next day in class. Class size would be 8-10 and most students would be very active in the discussion. Math classes followed a slightly different model. Homework would be a set of problems and the beginning of the next class would be spend going over them. The teacher would ask each student to put one problem up on the board, and then the class would discuss them, learning from the ways other students chose to solve problems. I started at Taft junior year - in my two years there my largest math class was 7. Science classes were very much lab-based. The first two or three classes in the week would be lectures about a topic, with the remainder of the week spent on a relevant hands-on experiment. Homework was designed to familiarize ourselves with the formulas we would need to apply to make predictions about our experiment. As for classes outside the core, like the Bhuddism class I took junior year, the classes were always small discussions led by a passionate teacher. This enthusiasm was always infectious. At Taft, it was always more about the knowledge than about the grade, a feature highlighted at graduation, when the student speeches are given not by the Valedictorian and 2nd, but by two members of the class chosen by consensus among the seniors and faculty. Students were the opposite of competitive and we were given the space to pursue knowledge for its own sake. One of the best examples of that space, a unique feature of Taft's education system that I was able to take advantage of my senior year, was the Independent Tutorial, a structure which allowed students with specific interests that exceeded the standard course-offerings to continue study in that area. I worked with my Junior-year Economics teacher to design my own course in Game Theory. We found a text book (coincidentally the same book I would later be assigned in my college game theory course) and came up with paper topics. We met once a week to discuss the readings and further examples that my teacher found and I received a grade and course credit like any other class. As you might guess, this was not atypical, and indicative of teachers' accessibility as a whole. Almost all of them lived on campus and would be available to meet short notice, either in their office or in the dorm in which they had duty. It was also not uncommon to hang out in a teacher's office or go out to lunch with one. Many students did get to be very close with their literature teachers in particular, because if there was a subject that Taft emphasized, it was certainly writing. Over their 4 years, every student assembled a writing portfolio to track their progress. Every class outside STEM had a strong writing component. Being able to eloquently and accurately communicate was really seen as the foundation to a liberal arts education and it was one area where every Taftie had to be proficient before they went off to college. They really kind of spoil you - I have yet to have a college essay be anything other than easy in comparison to my junior and senior year Lit classes at Taft.

College Counseling

My college counseling experience was fantastic, and application process consequentially painless. I began meeting with....

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 began at Taft my junior year, making my admissions experience different than most. It....

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

Boarding at Taft was a positive experience. One really great feature of the housing setup though was that (excepting a 3rd small all-junior dorm) there were really two big dormitories, all the lowersclassmen boys in one and almost all the junior and senior boys in another. This really brought the guys together, having every guy in your class at most a few flights of stairs away. We also had faculty apartments in the dorms, and we got to be very close with faculty families. The girls dorms are smaller and more numerous, but newer and nicer than the guys' dorms,....

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