Middlesex School - Review #13
Reflections and Advice:
1.) What do you think makes your school unique relative to other boarding schools?
One big thing that differentiates Middlesex from other boarding schools is the strength of its writing and English program. Middlesex's program is anchored by Writing Workshop, a program developed by the head of the English department that focuses on grammar, sentence structure, and paragraph and essay writing. People often come out of MX saying that their writing has improved immensely, and I think that, out of all academic subjects, my English writing and analytic skills improved the most by coming to MX. I like to think of the program as a hourglass: everyone comes into the school with vastly differing experience in English, the program introduces you to Writing Workshop freshman year, the curriculum doubles down on the program sophomore year, junior year you begin to branch out an take both English APs (and the scores on both APs are absurdly high), and senior year you take electives and work on broadening yourself. I feel much more confident as a writer and a thinker because of MX English.
2.) What was the best thing that happened to you in boarding school?
Coming to boarding school was the best thing that has ever happened to me. Coming into Middlesex as a new sophomore, I was shy and cynical about education. Now, as a recent graduate, I am more outgoing, perceptive, and confident. I feel that I've become a better student and citizen, and that's to the credit of MX's rigor and closeness. I like to be challenged, and Middlesex's academics pushed me to my limits and then beyond. I feel more than ready for college work, and I've developed study and organizational schools that public schools and private day schools just can't instill. Middlesex's English program in particular has made me more psychologically astute about myself and others, and I feel that I understand myself and what I want to be. Once a week, a senior gives a senior speech, and I spent over twenty hours working on mine using techniques from the English program and observations to which other teachers and students had contributed. The speech I gave was intended to cause controversy and it did, but I think it went over well in part because of how I'd learned to handle myself and the words I use.
3.) What might you have done differently during your boarding school experience?
I spent the first two months at Middlesex sitting in my room. I'd never been social and didn't have the confidence to venture outside much, and Middlesex slowly drew me out of my shell. I would recommend that, besides spending time with kids in their grade, new kids spend time talking to seniors and teachers, whether in the dorm common room or after class or wherever. Seniors are coached to be helpful to freshmen and be campus leaders, and the faculty really care about their students and are always willing to lend out advice.
4.) What did you like most about your school?
The sense of possibility. Middlesex has high expectations and, as I've said before, will push you as much as it can. But it likes to talk about what you're capable of doing instead of what your limitations are, and if you use this mentality correctly, you'll build healthy self-confidence and a work ethic that give you the ability to thrive pretty much anywhere. You'll be pushed to try a bunch of new things and work like you've never worked before, and by the end of it, you'll honestly be ready for life.
5.) Do you have any final words of wisdom for visiting or incoming students to your school?
Bring a fan for your dorm room. This is crucial. Seriously.
1.) Describe the academics at your school - what did you like most about it?
The strong academics of private schools are what lead me to apply to boarding schools in the first place. Middlesex's curriculum is rigorous and comprehensive- you're required to take classes in pretty much every subject area imaginable, and your courses are more or less chosen for you (unless you want to take an extra class, which is fairly common) until senior year, when you have more room to maneuver and specialize. Coming from public school, the increased difficulty was a bit of a shock at first- you're probably going to have to work a lot harder to maintain the average you're used to having. I thoroughly enjoyed this change. Like most boarding schools, Middlesex has some grade inflation, but it's limited- really, you can b.s. your way into the low B range without doing much, but going for more requires substantially more effort, and going for As means you're really going to have to hunker down.The faculty are awesome. Yes, there is a range of faculty quality, like there is at all schools, but teachers at Middlesex are very committed and really care about their classes. Middlesex goes really heavy in its advertising about close student-faculty relationships, and they're not kidding. Some of the best friends I've made are faculty, and I've learned a lot from them outside the classroom as well as inside.As far as the academic environment goes, it's not particularly competitive and work ethic is respected. I know some schools can get cutthroat, but I honestly don't think that's much of a problem at MX. Not everyone is a motivated student and there are slackers, but on the whole the student body does care about doing well and there are a lot of kids who put a TON of time and effort into their academics.
1.) Describe the athletics at your school - what did you like most about it?
I am not an athlete by any means, so I'm not really the person to ask about this, but as far as I know MX athletics are pretty strong. By records, the cross country, hockey, track, lacrosse, and women's crew teams are the strongest programs on campus, and a lot of other teams do very well as well, though there are a few teams that barely win any games. There is a three-sport requirement for freshman and sophomores, a two-sport requirement for juniors, and a one-sport requirement for seniors, though you can get out of that a bit by managing teams or working in the athletic office. The list of sports offered is on the MX website and it's pretty comprehensive; the only missing sport people complain about is swimming. The facilities seem great to me and there's a gym for working out.I used every trick I could to get out of sports and so the only one I ever played was boy's JV cross country, which was actually an awesome experience. If you're a timid person and come to MX, I recommend doing it in the fall. It's a great environment and it'll help ease the transition.
Art, Music, and Theatre:
1.) Describe the arts program at your school - what did you like most about it?
Everyone is required, in their freshman and sophomores, to take a 4-semester arts sequence consisting of drawing, drama, art history, and music. Beyond that, it's pretty much up to the individual. There's a 4-semester advanced drama sequence, various plays throughout the year, AP Art History, AP Studio Art, the Middlesex Art Association and various other art clubs, the Chamber Ensemble, the Jazz Orchestra, Chapel Chorus (which is open to everyone), and Small Chorus (which requires an audition). In the next couple of years, Middlesex is going to construct a new arts building and do work on the theater, so the facilities are going to get a big makeover, including a recital hall.As far as art's place in the community, it's pretty well integrated- there's no divide between artsy and non-artsy kids. Pretty much everyone goes to the plays and Small Chorus, though not a whole lot of people show up to the Chamber Ensemble and Jazz Orchestra recitals and Spring Concert, which is disappointing. Overall, MX isn't a particularly art-focused campus, but the arts certainly aren't sidelined.
1.) Describe the extracurriculars offered at your school - what did you like most about it?
There's a fair amount of extracurriculars offered at MX, and they're not kidding when they say that it's absurdly easy to start your own club. You only need a faculty member to sign on as a faculty adviser, and you're good to go. Students start up new stuff pretty frequently. However, out of the dozens and dozens of clubs available, a fairly large number of them barely do anything, and if you come you'll soon find out which clubs are legit and which ones aren't. The student newspaper, The Anvil, does require a lot of work; has has 8 issues per year. Senior year, you'll also be able to apply for a bunch of senior leadership positions, and, like the clubs, some of them require much more effort than others. If you're motivated, you can pretty much do anything you want and the school will support you and maybe even give you an club budget, but don't be surprised if some the clubs you hear about fade out.
1.) Describe the dorm life in your school - what did you like most about it?
Dorm life is awesome. The rooms are spacious, the facilities are either already good or are about to be upgraded as part of a grand campus development plan, and the feeling of community is a key part of the MX experience. You're required to sign into your dorm at 7:30 for a 2-hour study hours period, and between 9:30 and 10:30 you'll have some range of privileges that depends on what grade you're in. You'll always be able to order food to your dorm (Domino's, Junior's, or Acton House of Pizza- pizza, subs, calzones, and salads) and, in your second semester of sophomore year and onward, you'll be able to go to the campus Grill to buy food (chicken fingers, hamburgers, other assorted foods that you'd see being sold at a sports game or something).For new students, I think they try to build floors so that they reflect the community as a whole. In each dorm, what basically happens is that there's a freshman floor, a sophomore floor, a junior floor, and seniors scattered around in proctor rooms, seniors quads, or just normal rooms. I like this format because there will always be people in your grade near you, but you're also encouraged to make friends outside of your grade level. After your first year, you can request up to three floormates, and you're guaranteed to get at least one of them on your floor the following year (usually you'll get more).
1.) Describe the dining arrangements at your school.
Dining is not the finest aspect of the school. The food's edible and it's decently diverse, but it's not really a selling point. Complaining about it does build camaraderie, though. There's breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day, and on Sunday there's brunch. You can also go in to grab cereal and toast for snacks at most points during the day. There's no assigned seating, but there are three somewhat distinct areas: one for freshman, one for sophomores, and one for juniors/seniors. You're not required to sit with your grade and I know several kids who don't, and you won't be ostracized or anything for sitting somewhere else, but most kids sit with their grades in those areas in the dining hall.
Social and Town Life:
1.) Describe the school's town and surrounding area.
Concord, Massachusetts is a quaint, archetypal New England small town filled with wealthy, elderly white people. It's not exciting and I didn't visit it much, but you can go into town on a school-provided shuttle service every day for free and wander around. There's a CVS, Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, and several restaurants to go to, and some kids like to go to the bookstore or library to read and relax. It's not an integral part of the MX experience, but it is a nice way to get out of the 'Middlesex Bubble'.
2.) Describe the social life at your school - what did you like most about it?
Most people at Middlesex have a core group of close friends, and then more circles of less-close friends. Since there are only 375 kids, you come to know of just about everyone and personally know at least half of the school. Because the school is so small and connected, every year is different with the loss of the seniors and the introduction of the freshman and new sophomores and juniors. A previous review mentioned how this makes school spirit, attitude, and cliquishness fluid depending on the year, and I think that's true. Most people are friendly and very helpful to new students, and though everyone has his or her niche, the vast majority of kids at MX belongs to various groups and activities. I think this versatility is one of the best parts of Middlesex. Some people do tend to be cliquish, but they're a minority.I was a full-aid student from central Ohio, and coming to an environment dominated by upper-class New England is a pretty big culture shock. While I did have an overwhelmingly positive boarding school experience, I feel that I should note that a small (but vocal) percentage of the campus does follow the worst stereotypes of prep school kids: that they're obliviously privileged and entitled. Most kids, wealthy kids included, aren't like that, but most stereotypes have a grain of truth in them, and the prep school kid caricature is no exception.
Wake up, shower, rush to class
Classes are from 8 to 3, with free blocks interspersed throughout
Athletics (depending on the team, practice will ends between 4:45 and 6:30)
Go back to my dorm and go online for a while
Study hours begin: time for homework (unless you, like me, procrastinate a lot)
Check in for the night; study hours end
The campus internet cuts out at 12
Head off to sleep (don't worry, most people go to sleep around 11-12)
Wake up and lay in bed for a while
Go to brunch
My weekend activities are usually movies and hanging out with friend. Some people leave campus to go to Boston or see day student friends. There's always a campus event Saturday night, but Sundays are quieter.
Get around to starting homework
First check-in; study hours start
Second check-in; study hours end
I go to bed sometime around here
Alumni Reviews Review School
Middlesex School Alumni #1
Class of 2019
Class of 2019
Middlesex is probably the boarding school that is far ahead in terms of student body diversity, and I mean that in a very good way. Between geographical and socioeconomic diversity, you really learn a ton. . .
Middlesex School Alumni #2
Class of 2019
Class of 2019
The community that is centered around the circle is welcoming, and the nice fall and spring days leave the students socializing on the circle during free blocks throughout the day and in their free time. . .
Middlesex School Alumni #3
Class of 2019
Class of 2019
The entire experience was not only unique, it was life changing! It opened my eyes and mind up to world I wasn't familiar with. I was able to meet, connect and bond with students from. . .
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