The Hotchkiss School - Review #1
About the Author:
|Years Attended Boarding School:||1999-2003|
|Sports and Activities:||girls' golf team, music [played both the piano and cello], founded a musical trio [piano, cello, violin] my junior year, soccer team for two years|
|College Enrolled:||Williams College|
|Home Town, State:||Wesley Hills, NY|
1.) What do you think makes your school unique relative to other boarding schools?
What I really enjoyed best about Hotchkiss was the small size, about 550 students. It was small enough that by the end of your four years you pretty knew everyone, not necessarily by name but for the most part by face. Which was both a good and sometimes a bad thing, I guess. Also the small size really helped you to take part in a lot of activites you might not do in a bigger school, like try out a new sport, pick up an instrument, audition for a play, etc. In terms of extracurricular activites there was lots of stuff to do, and not always entirely to boost the college applications [although of course most of us did it for that]. With sports from varsity all the way down to intramural, for example, if you wanted to try something new like volleyball, indoor tennis or squash, it was there for you to do. In terms of volunteer work, unlike other schools, it wasn't mandatory, but really encouraged. Seriously, that is the only aspect of Hotchkiss that I never really took advantage of, and I wish I had! I really recommend you do it, not again just for the apps but just for yourself in general. From what I've heard it's actually pretty fun.
2.) What was the best thing that happened to you in boarding school?
I've definetly grown up A LOT. When I first arrived I was 13 years old and still really, really immature, but what would you expect from someone from 8th grade. I found myself calling my parents for every little thing that went wrong and making a whole deal out of it. But by upper mid year, I found myself becoming a great deal more responsible and being willing to take responsibility for my actions...for the most part, instead of blaming someone else for it. Also, how to relate and deal with people who are different, or may have different opinions, etc from you. I really appreciate going away to school because it helped me to get to know great people I probably wouldn't have gotten to know had I stayed home and gone to day school there.
3.) What might you have done differently during your boarding school experience?
Probably nothing...actually, I would have maybe done more extracurriculars besides golf and music. Maybe tried out for a play or something. And joined a couple of clubs just for the sake of it. That's pretty much it.
4.) What would you never want to change about your school?
The friendships you make with people here.
5.) What things could be improved about your school?
The music facilities, but they're working on that.
6.) Do you have any final words of wisdom for visiting or incoming students to your school?
Definitely take advantage of your surroundings, and don't be afraid to try new things. And get to know as many people as possible. I'm not saying be friends with everyone, but at least try and know everyone's name in your class by the time you graduate. You never know when you'll need them later in life.Social stuff: don't be a hermit. From your first day on campus, just get out there and be yourself. The snack bar is an awesome place cause you can meet so many random people there, you really have no idea. Plus it's a nice place to sit and ...haha, gossip about what's going to go on from 9:30-10. Oh, 9:30-10 [for underclassmen] is the time after study hall when everyone runs out to Main Building to sit, chill, and of course head to the snack bar which was always crowded with upperlcassmen who jumped on the line at 9:20 sometimes on purpose. I'd know...I am guilty of doing it when I'd see the preps and lower mids running out, I'd tell my friends 'Hurry up and get on line, the preps are coming!' Silly stuff like that, but that really makes for some good memories of Hkiss.And the golf course. You gotta play it at least once! Even if you're not a golfer, at least just tag along with a friend who is, or spend one afternoon sitting either on the 7th fairway or the 4th one spring day, especially do it your first year and and then your senior year. It's awesome, I'm telling you, and from the 7th you can see the other side of campus, especially when there's a sunset. Also you gotta take a trip down to the boathouse and the lake at least once, sit there with friends and enjoy the sunset.
1.) What did you like best about your schools academics?
The small class size really helped you to get to know your classmates outside of the class, and most importantly your teacher as well. He/she could be your floor head, your advisor, or even your sports coach. And being that most of them lived on campus, if you needed any extra help they were usually just a phone call or an email away. Most of the times you could see them in dinner which was good for an informal, one-on-one meeting.
2.) What did you like least about the academics in your school?
The workload could be pretty intense, after all you only have four years and sometimes there are just so many things you want to take before you graduate. The normal course load is five courses, but most people take six, sometimes even seven especially in the Upper Mid [junior] year in an attempt to again, look impressive to those colleges. Also, although Hotchkiss did offer a lot of courses, I found that more attention and focus was given to specific courses other than others, in other words, some courses 'counted more academically', or were taken more seriously than others. Most of the teachers were approachable, however, can't say the same for some. But that's typical in any high school, some teachers are cool, others aren't.
1.) What did you like best about your schools athletics?
The athletic facilities were out of this world, even better than many colleges. There was something for everyone, from the tri-varsity athlete all the way down to the non-athlete wanting a little workout once in a while. As a golfer, I fell in love with Hotchkiss' golf course, as my upper mid and senior years I was lucky enough to live right on the course, which was great for a quick couple of holes before classes, or on occasion especially in the spring, to play 9 or 18 holes before brunch.
2.) What did you like least about the athletics in your school?
My only complaint is that it took until my senior year for there to be a girls' varsity golf team. For the other three years I played in the intramural/club level, which was fun but definetly not the same as playing against other teams. So, with that said, I think if enough people show interest in a sport, maybe money should be given to make it a interschlastic sport. For example, a lot of girls tried out for tennis this year, and a lot were cut. I was interested, but knew that if I got cut from JV I wouldn't have a sport. With those girls left over, maybe a thirds team should be formed, or at least a spring club team.
1.) What did you like best about your schools art program?
As a musician [I played two instruments in high school], I really liked, the experience and level of instruction I received from my teachers in both instruments. In my junior year I was selected, along with seven other students to travel to the Amalfi Coast in Italy, to take part in a music festival, where we received instruction and went on excursions.
2.) What did you like least about your schools art program?
The facilities were terrible. The music 'wing' was in the basement of the main building, with no windows in many of the rooms. But, fortunately they're under way in building a new one, supposedly coming out in a couple of years.
1.) What did you like most about the extracurricular activities offered at your school?
Again, like athletics the variety of stuff Hotchkiss offered, for such a small school was amazing. Basically they had every club you could think of, and if they didn't if you were able to grab a couple of people and a faculty advisor, you had your club.
2.) What did you like least about the extracurricular activities offered at your school?
Unfortunaetly, for the most part, some clubs had way more participation than others. Well, I guess that's expected from any boarding school, it all depends on what the student is intersted in or what not. Most likely it had to do with the resources being offered to these clubs as well. It probably all depended on how aggressive the club leaders were in attaining finances for projects from the school.
1.) What was the best thing about dorm life in your school?
Personally, I think dorm life was one of the most important parts of life at Hotchkiss. You lived with anywhere from the smallest dorm, Watson, which had 28 girls up to 40-60 people in your dorm. They were separated by both sex and class, preps and lower mids [freshman and sophomores] lived separately from upper mids [juniors] and seniors. On each floor, there were two or three seniors who acted as proctors. These people, especially in the lowerclassman dorms were like big sisters, with whom you could talk with about almost any problem you had. Also, on each floor there was a faculty member with his or her family, who basically acted like your parents away from home. I really appreciated this prep year when I was quite homesick in those first few months. The rooms, for the most part are a great size, and I found that my room size got bigger as I went from prep to senior year. I think pretty much everyone is happy with the dorm they are in, as you have three options [as an upperclassman] that everyone does at the end of the preceeding year.
2.) What did you like least about dorm life?
Curfew at 10 on weekdays and 11 on Saturday nights. Those were a huge pain in the butt. Also, the whole inter-dorm deal, you couldn't have someone of the opposite sex in your room unless if you followed a sometimes confusing and strict set of rules, one being not until the second quarter of your upper mid year, another being only from 7:30-9:30 on specific days of the week. Oh, and the phones cutting off at 12...that definetly got more annoying by senior year when you wanted to chat with your friends till 2 in the morning. I didn't really notice until my junior year, because before then I would be in bed by 11 [lights out], but by junior year you were still up at 1 in the morning [for work reasons, but probably because you're still gossiping about what happened from 9:30-10], and limited phone access definetly got annoying at times.
1.) What was the best thing about your dining arrangements?
Unlike people I know at other boarding schools, we didn't have formal sit-down dinners too often. In fact, only once or twice a year. The most times, I think was during senior year when there were three, if I am not mistaken. The food was basically serve yourself, which was really conveinent sometimes, and other times not because of long lines especially during 5th period. The size of the dining hall was also a good size, big, but no so big during your first days you're terrified to walk around by yourself [at least I wasn't]. The food wasn't great, but there was always the snack bar where you could get junk food [a source of my dinner many times during my time there], which often was even better than what was being served in the dining hall. Plus it was a great place to hang out, especially upper mid year.
2.) What did you like least about your dining arrangements?
The food, certainly wasn't gourmet, but it's school food, so what would you expect? Also, the strict dining hours and the insane staff yelling at you for wanting a cup of milk 10 minutes before lunch, or dinner, or 5 minutes after the 'dining hall was closed'. As a freshman, I really got confused a lot because the cups, etc would still be out, the doors would be open and the machines still on.
1.) How welcome did you feel by the other students when you first arrived at the school
I arrived as a freshman earlier because of pre-season for the girls' soccer team. So it was a little easier initially because I had something to do with my time. Plus, I'm used to being away from home and on my own in new situations. In terms of adjusting, I think I got used to being away from home pretty quickly and got used to the school as a whole in about 2-3 months. In terms of fitting in, I found a group of people I was confortable with pretty early into my freshman year, and they were the people I hung out with for all four years I was there.
2.) Describe the level of diversity and integration of students in your school:
The school was I guess pretty diverse, you had people coming from all over the world and the US. Of course, most of us were either New Yorkers, which personally was fine with me, or from New England. Then there was a few from the West Coast. There was a good bunch of international kids, but most tended to stick with themselves, except for a couple of awesome people that I got to know personally who didn't hang out with the International Club all the time. It was weird, though, what defined 'international', because some people definetly weren't, and others were. In other words, if you were from Europe you were, but if you were from closer by like Canada you weren't. At least that's what my interpretation was. There was some segregation though, but that's normal at any school you go to. People I guess were pretty chill with each other for the most part.
3.) Describe typical fun activities you did on a weekend:
To be honest, Saturday nights got old after a while, especially by upper mid year. The movie and the dance just wasn't working anymore. So basically everyone would just bum around main building from after dinner until just before check-in at 11. Sometimes you'd take weekend and get off campus...it all depended in what you were in the mood in. Some weekends I'd just sleep the entire time just to catch up, but most of the time I bummed around the school, just chilling with friends.
4.) What was the town like?
The town around Hotchkiss is one of those rinky dink little towns. Not bad but definetly not New York. Basically there was a little movie theatre, CVS, Grand Union, and McDonald's. That was it. There were a few little shops, but really no one shopped for clothes there. On sundays, there would be shuttles to go into town to pick up stuff from either CVS or Grand Union, or grab a milkshake and fries at McDonald's. On other days there was the taxi service, but their prices weren't cheap...probably because of the monoploy they had. But if you went with a group of friends, the price was pretty reasonable.
|7:30 AM||breakfast...unless if i had a sleep-in|
|8:00 AM||finish homework for class|
|8:45 AM||econ class|
|9:30 AM||piano lesson|
|11:00 AM||math class|
|11:45 AM||french class|
|1:15 PM||cello lesson|
|2:15 PM||finish work before golf...or usually, nap|
|5:30 PM||shower and head to dinner|
|7:00 PM||continue working till 9:15ish|
|9:15 PM||chill in MB with friends|
|12:30 AM||relax, then work till 12ish. bed by 12:30, usually|
|12:00 AM||wake up..and probably go back to sleep. or play golf, weather permitting|
|2:30 PM||if not up by now, wake up, shower, and head to the snack bar|
|4:00 PM||start working|
|6:30 PM||continue working|
|8:00 PM||practice either piano or cello, depends on what i did the day before|
|9:30 PM||hang out in main building till 10|
|10:00 AM||chill some more with friends, chat on AIM, etc|
|11:00 PM||continue working|
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