St. Paul's School - Review #1

Read more details about St. Paul's School on their 2021-22 profile page.
St. Paul's School

About the Author:

Years Attended Boarding School: 1998-2002
Sports and Activities:Varsity Track & Field; T-Tones all-male acappella; JV Nordic Skiing; Chorus; Madrigal Singers; Club Soccer (captain); Keiser Music Guild; Orchestra; Computer Technology Association; John Enders Science Association; Math Team (captain); Gay-Straight Alliance; Club Crew; Fencing Club; International Society; Japanese Society; Into the Woods musical theater; B-List acappella; Boyz 2 Manville acappella
College Enrolled:The Johns Hopkins University
Home Town, State: Madison, WI

Reflections and Advice:

1.) What do you think makes your school unique relative to other boarding schools?
The single most important aspect of life at St. Paul's is that every member of the student body and the faculty lives on campus. There are no day students disappearing after classes or sports, and students are not left sitting around at night completing their homework in an intellectual vacuum. Every student has the opportunity to form meaningful relationships with other students as well as faculty members in the classrooms, on the athletic fields, and in the dining halls and dormitories. Faculty members, many of whom live in apartments connected to the student dorms, are around in the evenings to help students understand their homework problems, work through the social issues confronting all adolescents, or simply chat about the day's events. The 100% boarding method is incredibly successful in allowing students to make effective use of their time at St. Paul's, as well as giving them the opportunity to learn as much as possible from the exceptional faculty.
2.) What was the best thing that happened to you in boarding school?
I remember sitting down one evening and thinking back through all of the different roles I played throughout the day: biblical scholar, scientist, classics scholar, linguist, diplomat, historian, athlete, musician, artist, activist, actor, student, teacher, friend, explorer. St. Paul's has made me better at all of these things, and changed me in other ways that I can't even begin to imagine. Any single achievement, in the classroom, on the athletic field, or in the dorm, would be meaningless without the complex background of other accomplishments that defined my career there.
3.) What might you have done differently during your boarding school experience?
For the first few months after I arrived at school, I kept mostly to myself, convinced that I had figured out how to manage my own life there. Looking back, I realize that while I may have figured out how to manage, I had not learned how to live. The upperclassmen and faculty members in my dorm had figured this out; I only had to look around or ask, and my first months could have been as memorable as my last.
4.) What would you never want to change about your school?
Seated meal, morning chapel, crew races, poppyseed cake in the rectory, long walks in the woods, late-night ice cream with an adviser, skating on the pond, graduation day.
5.) What things could be improved about your school?
The school is still dealing with the recent introduction of telephones and internet access into rooms. The administration still has a long way to go before they can work those access issues out to everyone's satisfaction. Also, the Rector and Trustees have been struggling with the issue of housing for same-sex couples on the faculty. A few buildings on campus have outlived their usefulness, and a master plan is being developed to provide for their renovation or replacement, beginning with the new gym, which should be opened soon.
6.) Do you have any final words of wisdom for visiting or incoming students to your school?
Order a Special at the Tuck Shop; while you're eating it, shoot the breeze with Big Guy. Head back to the dorm, and ask one of the older or more adventurous faculty members to help you find Jerry Hill. Then, the next day, take your best friend with you and climb it. Walk back; go to a Keiser concert. Play frisbee on the chapel lawn. Go to an open house at the Rectory, eat poppyseed cake and play Jenga. Look for interesting names of alumni on the walls of the Upper. Start a theological discussion with a member of the clergy. Watch the crew races against Exeter from the footbridge. Watch a debate tournament. Visit your friends in Montana. Talk to some of the old people that show up on Anniversary weekend; you'll be surprised to find out how much you have in common.


1.) What did you like best about your school’s academics?
The wide variety of stimulating, high-level classes in many different subjects allows students to fully explore their interests and abilities, whether their interest is in Latin, computer science, music, biology, or the humanities. Small classes allow the knowledgeable, experienced faculty, nearly all with graduate or doctorate degrees from world-class universities, to teach each student according to his or her full potential. Also, the grading system is not curved, reducing competition among students and focusing their efforts instead on improving relative to their own performance.
2.) What did you like least about the academics in your school?
The block system of scheduling classes occasionally creates unfortunate conflicts and difficult choices.


1.) What did you like best about your school’s athletics?
The school requires every student to participate in some form of athletics through their junior year. Some students who may have thought that they hated sports may discover a team that they become passionate about; others come to the school to participate in well-respected, conference-leading teams. The school's coaches are all members of the faculty, providing an example to students that academic and athletic prowess are not mutually exclusive. At the very least, everyone gets an outlet for the stress that is created by the school's busy atmosphere. Nearly every varsity team (the most notable exception being football) is competitive in their conference. The options available to students include many stereotypically "preppy" sports, such as crew and squash, but the range of sports offered allows everyone to find something they enjoy.
2.) What did you like least about the athletics in your school?
Except for a few major events, most notably the major crew races towards the end of the spring, athletic competitions are sparsely attended. The old gym, which will soon be replaced, was an unattractive, uninviting base for the school's athletic activities.

Art, Music, and Theatre:

1.) What did you like best about your school’s art program?
The Keiser concert series, free for students and faculty, brings world-class musicians to perform on campus several times a year. Similar programs in the visual arts and theater departments provide a multitude of wonderful arts events on campus, all of which are very well-attended. As in the other areas of the school, the faculty in both the performing and visual arts are excellent artists in their own right, and are able to provide a level of teaching that most students are highly unlikely to find at home. The ballet program, while not very widely publicized on campus, is one of the leading programs in the country for the high school age group.
2.) What did you like least about your school’s art program?
The arts programs are outgrowing the facilities that they are currently using. This is not a major problem yet, but it is an inaccurate representation of the school's commitment to the arts.

Extracurricular Opportunities:

1.) What did you like most about the extracurricular activities offered at your school?
There is something for everyone. Nearly every person is involved in one or more groups which sponsor events and activities throughout the school year. Faculty members are also actively involved in many of the groups, helping them to expand their knowledge and experiences beyond the ideas that students may have. Also, officially recognized student groups all receive funding from the school to help with the organization of special activities or trips or in sponsoring weekend activities for the entire school.
2.) What did you like least about the extracurricular activities offered at your school?
The overwhelming number of extracurricular activities available sometimes leads to students becoming committed to more groups than they have the time or psychological capacity to handle. My grades slipped significantly in the spring semester of my sophomore year because I was involved in more than ten different extracurricular activities, not including athletics.

Dorm Life:

1.) What was the best thing about dorm life in your school?
Every person in a dorm adds something to the dynamic of living at a boarding school. Social interaction by no means ends at check-in, which is graduated according to grade. Many students stay up working to gether on homework problems or simply socializing. All of the dorms have common computers in workstations available to all students, as well as laundry rooms and access to a kitchenette for late-night snacks.
2.) What did you like least about dorm life?
Many students take issue with the limited hours for visiting dorms housing members of the opposite sex. There is not much more time in the average student's day, however, for an extension to make any meaningful difference. The hours imposed on internet and telephone access are somewhat arbitrary, although during my time as a student the school made significant progress in offering these services at all. The housing process causes a great deal of stress and controversy at the end of each year, but most students develop a sense of loyalty to their new dorm and neighbors despite the arguing of the previous spring.


1.) What was the best thing about your dining arrangements?
Regular cafeteria meals are sufficiently varied to prevent boredom, and an effort is made to provide a number of appealing choices while keeping an eye on nutrition as well. The traditional seated meals, two evenings a week, are a major part of life at the school and help to introduce students and faculty to each other when they might not otherwise meet. Breakfast is particularly good; I was spoiled eating at the omelet bar and by the eggs benedict at Sunday brunch.
2.) What did you like least about your dining arrangements?
Aside from the standard dining-hall complaints about limited options and lack of taste compared to home, I think that the food service does a very good job.

Social and Town Life:

1.) How welcome did you feel by the other students when you first arrived at the school
The upperclassmen all remember what it was like to be in the dorm for the first time, and they will help you get comfortable and feel like you belong at the school. Because you are in close contact with a lot of different people over the course of a day, it's easy to find your place and develop friendships with others.
2.) Describe the level of diversity and integration of students in your school:
St. Paul's is an old, Episcopalian boarding school in New England, and its largely white student population reflects that. There are increasing numbers of asian and black students, however, and they are well integrated into the student body. At times it is clear, however, that they still feel more comfortable around those with a similar ethnic background, but not to the exclusion of the rest of the school.
3.) Describe typical fun activities you did on a weekend:
Watch a crew race, explore the thousands of acres of forest owned by the school, listen to a Keiser music concert, sing in the volunteer Sunday church choir, watch (or participate in) a debate in the Schoolhouse, play frisbee on the chapel lawn, or take a dip in the pond. Check the water temperature, first, though - it may be wiser to throw your friend in than to jump in yourself!
4.) What was the town like?
Students often go into town on weekends to eat at restaurants, shop, or watch movies. Concord is a good size for the school: large enough to have options for the students to explore, but small enough that they don't feel threatened by its complexity.

Daily Schedule:

6:45 AMWake up, shower, and walk to breakfast
7:45 AMTry to beat the rush to chapel
8:00 AMMorning chapel
8:30 AMFirst period free today; get back to the room and finish off some homework
9:30 AMBioethics class
10:30 AMBC Calculus class
11:30 AMLunch in the Upper
1:00 PMPresidential candidate speaking in Memorial Hall; whole school attends
2:00 PMLatin class; vocab quiz today
3:15 PMSports practice
5:30 PMBack to the room to get ready for seated meal
6:00 PMSeated meal
6:45 PMChoir rehearsal
8:00 PMA Cappella rehearsal
9:00 PMStop by girlfriend's dorm to chat
9:30 PMFreshman check-in; kicked out of girlfriend's dorm
9:45 PMStop by Manville for some extra chemistry help from teacher
10:30 PMSenior check-in, back to the dorm to get some work done
12:00 AMImpromptu dorm wrestling session; don't wake the advisers
1:00 AMSleep
7:00 AMWake up, shower, eat breakfast
8:00 AMLatin class; another vocab quiz
9:30 AMBioethics class
11:00 AMHoly Land class
12:00 PMDuck out of class early to leave for a track meet
7:30 PMBack at school; shower and change
8:00 PMKeiser Concert in the music building: string quintet
9:30 PMDrop by the dance in Freeman Center
10:00 PMHead to the astronomy center open house
11:30 PMBack in the dorm before senior check-in at midnight
12:00 AMMovie and ice cream in the dorm
2:30 AMSleep
Read more details about St. Paul's School on their 2021-22 profile page.

Alumni Reviews
  Review School

  • Review Description
  • St. Paul's School Alumni #1
    Class of 2018
    5 Stars   6/9/2018
    Lehigh University
    One of the biggest qualities that stood out during my time at St. Paul's was the campus and the community. You will not come across a more beautiful campus in New England. Covering a span. . .
  • St. Paul's School Alumni #2
    Class of 2012
    5 Stars   12/29/2016
    Davidson College
    St. Paul's was unique in that it was 100% boarding. Attending a school where absolutely all of the students (and the majority of the staff) reside on the same campus for the entire academic. . .
  • St. Paul's School Alumni #3
    Class of 2002
    5 Stars   7/11/2004
    Swarthmore College
    One of the most memorable and unique aspects of SPS is the boarding atmosphere. Everyone lives on campus in school housing, even students who hail from the local town. Teachers live on campus. . .
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