Emma Willard School - Review #7

Read more details about Emma Willard School on their 2021-22 profile page.
Emma Willard School

About the Author:

Years Attended Boarding School: 1996-2000
Sports and Activities:I played varsity basketball (4 years), varsity soccer (3 years), rowed crew 2 years and played lacrosse 2 years. I was on the literary magazine staff and was the editor my senior year. I was active in several clubs including Debate, Poetry Club and Amnesty International. I took piano lessons all four years and performed with the Piano Ensemble my senior year.
College Enrolled:University of Notre Dame
Home Town, State: Atlanta, GA

Reflections and Advice:

1.) What do you think makes your school unique relative to other boarding schools?
As the oldest girls school in the country, Emma Willard places a unique focus on educating women. They really strive to educate the whole person, including letting students direct their academic interests.
2.) What was the best thing that happened to you in boarding school?
Going to boarding school gave me the opportunity to explore independence and learn to take responsibility---for my schooling and with friendships and other social aspects. Being in boarding school meant that I was supported, but allowed to grow up and become a realized mature person far before I would have if I stayed at home with my parents. I think that this early self-awareness made my transition into college, my experience while studying abroad for a year at age 19 and even grad school far easier than it was for my peers who stayed home to go to high school.
3.) What might you have done differently during your boarding school experience?
I don’t have too many regrets about anything from my four years at Emma!
4.) What did you like most about your school?
I liked that teachers valued student intelligence and challenged us daily. I also really liked the traditions on campus because they gave me the opportunity to be part of something special. From Revels, the senior class Christmas play, to class dinners to Ring Week, there are so many aspects of Emma Willard traditions that make up my memories of my best times during high school.
5.) Do you have any final words of wisdom for visiting or incoming students to your school?
Electing to leave home at 14, 15 or 16 can be scary. However, if you believe that you can do it and really go for it, you will find a team of teachers and staff at Emma Willard who also believe in you and will try their hardest to help you.


1.) Describe the academics at your school - what did you like most about it?
The academics at Emma Willard were really great. The teachers are talented and the school believes in letting students pursue their interests and strengths. I was really interested in math, and was allowed to be flexible with my schedule, taking both AP Statistics and AP Calc. They also let you take electives starting Junior year. I think I have heard that the school is pushing AP tests less now, but when I was a student, most of us took several AP tests (I took math, Latin, English, European History and US History, and was well prepared for and successful on all of them.)


1.) Describe the athletics at your school - what did you like most about it?
As an avid athlete, I really enjoyed my four years of three seasons of sports! I liked many aspects of the athletic programs, like most of my coaches and the encouragement and enthusiasm they gave. All students were encouraged to participate in sports, even if they hadn’t played before. This enabled me, for example, to try two different Spring sports during my time at Emma Willard: crew for 2 years and lacrosse for 2. The school also offers a wide range of sports, from classics like basketball and softball to indoor track and winter crew training. However, while some teams like tennis are consistently great, not all the teams are good or even super competitive.

Art, Music, and Theatre:

1.) Describe the arts program at your school - what did you like most about it?
I didn’t take full advantage of the arts program. Each student was required to take 2 credits (4 classes) and since I took piano lessons all four years, I only had to take one photography class. The school does offer a wide variety of arts classes, as well as a big drama program, choir and orchestra.

Extracurricular Opportunities:

1.) Describe the extracurriculars offered at your school - what did you like most about it?
Outside of academics and sports, students can take part in the Practicum program. This encompasses basically any internship, sport, class or art that is not offered through the school directly. Students do a huge variety of Practicum, from languages to equestrian to internships. When I was a senior, I did a Practicum at a local private day school in the 4th grade. It was great to have the Practicum Director help to arrange this internship/shadowing experience.

Dorm Life:

1.) Describe the dorm life in your school - what did you like most about it?
Emma Willard has three main dormitory buildings: Kellas, Hyphen and Sage. These are divided into floors and halls, creating smaller, more intimate living groups. Each hall has a Proctor, a senior leader responsible for various aspects of dorm life. The house parents only work in residential life, so they can really focus on the student experience. All freshman live on the same three halls, while the rest of the student body is mixed together. I liked the random friendships that developed each year on the halls. People whom you previously didn't know would become close friends after spending afternoons together or having "tea" (evening snack). You get to choose your roommates, and there are singles available for upperclasswomen.


1.) Describe the dining arrangements at your school.
Emma Willard has a dining hall where the school eats as a community. I thought that the food was generally healthy and tasty. Now, the dining hall is a Fair Trade dining hall.

Social and Town Life:

1.) Describe the school's town and surrounding area.
Troy has revitalized a great deal since I was a student. Now there are several cute restaurants and a great Farmers Market on the weekend. Students can also go to hockey games or other events at RPI. Albany offers a little more culture, and is only about 20 minutes away. The general upstate NY area offers a lot of great outdoor activities, like hiking, skiing and rafting.
2.) Describe the social life at your school - what did you like most about it?
I liked the close friendships that developed from being around your friends and classmates 24/7. Socially, most activities are really centered around boarding life, though day students join in, too. Emma Willard does some events with other boarding schools, but the girls on campus really become a world unto themselves!

Daily Schedule:

7:00 AMBreakfast Check-in
8:00 AMMorning Reports
9:00 AMClass
10:30 AMClass
11:15 AMLunch
11:45 AMMeeting with Adviser
12:15 AMClass
3:45 PMSports Practice
7:30 PMStudy Hall
9:00 AMWeekend Brunch
10:00 AMOn Campus Activities
3:00 PMStudy
5:30 PMDinner Check-in
8:00 PMHanging out in the Student Center
Read more details about Emma Willard School on their 2021-22 profile page.

Alumni Reviews
  Review School

  • Review Description
  • Emma Willard School Alumni #1
    Class of 2014
    5 Stars   12/27/2014
    Northeastern University
    Emma Willard is especially good at facilitating discussion based classrooms using the Harkness Method. I am finding now that I am in college classes that are all large lectures that Emma Willard's teachers were especially. . .
  • Emma Willard School Alumni #2
    Class of 2014
    5 Stars   8/14/2014
    Washington University in St. Louis
    Emma Willard's home on Mount Ida is in itself one of a kind. The moment you step on campus, you enter a different world of gray stone walls and unbridled passion. Emma Willard's small, close-knit. . .
  • Emma Willard School Alumni #3
    Class of 2010
    5 Stars   9/24/2013
    Dartmouth College
    One of my favorite parts about Emma Willard was the round table method of teaching. All humanities classes were taught around a round table, so that all of the students could see one another. Teachers. . .
  • Show more reviews (6 reviews)
Recent Articles
Thinking about making a major gift to your school? How about endowing a faculty chair? More here.
American boarding schools have always welcomed international students. Rigorous academic programs, extensive athletic programs, and a wide range of extracurricular activities attract students from all over the world.
Admissions to boarding school is a process with many components. The process can be confusing to parents dealing with boarding school admissions for the first time. We guide you through the process.