The Webb Schools - Review #8
About the Author:
|Years Attended Boarding School:||2010-2014|
|Sports and Activities:||Women's Cross Country (Captain) Distance Track Honor Cabinet Outdoor Club (Climbing, 10,000 mile club) MUN Service Council (GCC) Junior Fountain Fundraising TEDx (organizer)|
|College Enrolled:||Williams College|
|Home Town, State:||Beijing, CA|
1.) What do you think makes your school unique relative to other boarding schools?
Webb differs from other boarding schools of the same size and caliber in numerous ways, but the differences are not always felt by the student body in proportion to their rarity. The paleontological resources, for example, are unparalleled among high schools in North America, but only a handful of students really avail themselves of the museum, and it is possible to have very little interaction with this exclusive resource. One differentiating trait of Webb that I think touches every student in a significant way is its self-enforced and pervasive Honor Code. There is a great deal of emphasis on becoming a good person in addition to being generally successful. Serving on the Honor Cabinet or Honor Council is a significant honour for students selected for the role, and chapel talks occurring multiple times every week by both graduating seniors and faculty or off-campus guests frequently centre around what constitutes a good, meaningful life. A student's leadership roles on campus and achievements in academics and athletics are considered reflections of character and personality, and I felt accountable for my actions and for the role I played in the Webb community during my time there. Though each student chooses the extent to which she or he truly buys in to the Honor Code, behaviour that violates the code is neither modelled nor tolerated. Webb's Honor Code allows students to leave their rooms unlocked, their laptops and backpacks on dining room tables for half a day, to benefit from pedagogical strategies that require students who don't cheat or consult Sparknotes. Honour and integrity are frequently dimensions of boarding or private schools, but in my experience Webb's commitment to an Honor Code is more holistic and more immersive than that of other similar institutions.
2.) What was the best thing that happened to you in boarding school?
At Webb, I learned to be competitive and to fight for what I want and what I think is right. I think this would have been valuable for any person generally, but as a woman from a newly immigrated family of limited means, aka someone who is not generally told to expect very much from the world, I've learned to think and act like I deserve a shot at all the world has to offer. I think this is the best thing that could have happened to me at boarding school. I was also introduced to my now-favorite sport, rock climbing, through track and field pre-season. I don't imagine that I would have ever started climbing had I not gone to Webb.
3.) What might you have done differently during your boarding school experience?
I was initially homesick, and frightened by being around my classmates literally 24/7, but either didn't realise it at the time or refused to acknowledge it. I would suggest anticipating some reaction to a large change in environment. I would also suggest opening up to your peers, because boarding school provides a unique environment for building friendships.
4.) What did you like most about your school?
Four years at Webb taught me to expect a lot out of myself, my peers, and my surroundings. This mentality has gotten me to the college I currently attend and has allowed me to gain the summer grants I currently enjoy, and permeates everything that I do. Ultimately what I like most about Webb is that an education there was powerful and distinctive enough to leave a mark on me, and so far that mark has helped me achieve things that I want.
5.) Do you have any final words of wisdom for visiting or incoming students to your school?
Board if possible, and treat your time at Webb like the privilege that it is. Wake up for omelets on Sunday, go to chapel, eat the cookies that your teachers bring to the dorms, try a new sport. Appleby and Jones are my dorm recommendations if you are female.
1.) Describe the academics at your school - what did you like most about it?
Academics are solid at Webb. I felt prepared for college-level work, and was offered all the APs necessary to be competitive to colleges who value that sort of thing. Even though standards for written work and discussion are high at my college, I've found myself well prepared for college coursework and felt that I came away from Webb with good study habits developed through nightly study hours and a schedule full of mandatory extracurricular commitments. The professors at Webb are all pretty wonderful, and are great educators who care about their students and curriculum. The atmosphere is competitive in that those students who are "on track" to achieve academically all seem to be on a pre-determined track. One generally expects all 5s and to finish Calc BC and AP Lit. Everyone knows roughly how well everyone else is doing on the academic track, but because the community is so small and is joined by an Honour Code plagiarism, cheating, and sabotage are either less prevalent or dealt with more harshly than at many other schools.
1.) Describe the athletics at your school - what did you like most about it?
Webb's athletics program has the effect of making sports approachable and non-elitist for all students. Everyone plays at least one sport per year, although exceptions are granted for students with club sports commitments or in high level theatre. A large number of sports don't cut, and many are coached by faculty members who care about achievement in the sport itself but also about the welfare of the student and their character development. I think we recently moved to a less competitive sports league, so technically Webb is very competitive compared to its sports rivals. Webb has pretty awesome sports facilities, and there are lots of good trails to run in the Claremont Wilderness Park. We have easy access to lots of good hiking, climbing, water sports locations. There is a small stable down the trail from lower campus. We do not have any lacrosse teams.
1.) Describe the arts program at your school - what did you like most about it?
Webb is very accommodating to musicians and performers and artists. I had very little interaction with the visual arts and theatre programs, but my friends who were involved seemed to like the programs. Most people going for arts colleges did portfolio work on their own, outside of Webb. With regards to music, I came to Webb having played the violin for a long time, and loved being in orchestra my first year. The director had us playing serious pieces and experimental music. It became less interesting after that director left, so I quit. I continued to take lessons independently for some time, and it was very nice to have maintained swipe access to a practice space at school.
1.) Describe the extracurriculars offered at your school - what did you like most about it?
I spent a fair amount of time on extracurricular pursuits, and I think Webb did a good job of encouraging and facilitating student initiatives and interests. Because of the size of the school, it wasn’t hard to find an appropriate club or team, or to get a new one started. The one issue I ran into during my time was getting support for and interest in competitive climbing. Because of the facility of making new clubs and the desirability of having a leadership position for college applications, there are a lot of clubs. Not all are worth your time. It is important to keep in mind that being a boarding student at Webb entails a lot of other extracurricular commitments like formal dinner, chapel, advisory activities, dorm games and activities etc. All of these factors created an atmosphere that emphasized well-roundedness and holistic development over single-minded pursuit of expertise in one area.
1.) Describe the dorm life in your school - what did you like most about it?
The dorms are usually quite hospitable, and all the dorms are quite nice. The vibe of each dorm depends on your dorm head and dorm councillors. The girls' dorms are locked at night, whereas the boys' dorms are plein air and thus cannot be. Baked goods/ other snacks appear often, courtesy of kind faculty families and dorm heads. People generally get the type of room they want (single vs double) next to the people they want to live with. Getting to live with my friends was a huge factor in how happy I was at boarding school, and I actually find myself missing late night cram sessions and hangouts in the Appleby and Jones common rooms.
1.) Describe the dining arrangements at your school.
Dining practices at Webb are ultimately what made school feel like home. Webb's dining hall is very comfortable and spacious, with dark wood and long tables. The kitchen staff is pretty accommodating of dietary restrictions, and generally does a good job with food. There are plenty of options, from the kitchen's entrÃƒÂ©e to paninis to salads. Occasionally the kitchen staff does an exceptional job, e.g. tacos, omelettes, bread pudding, chocolate cookies, banana bread. Twice a week we had formal dinner, in uniforms and at assigned tables. I may have been in the minority, but I quite liked formal dinners because they were a nice break from classes and extracurriculars and allowed for relaxed, personal interactions with faculty and other students. It is also the arena for several games that can really only be played at formal dinner.
1.) Describe the school's town and surrounding area.
Claremont is an excellent place to be. It was easy to get into the Claremont Village from campus, and I have fond memories of running to the village and going out for dinners there almost every weekend. All amenities are close, and Claremont itself is very wealthy, suburban, and highly educated. There are a lot of professors and staff from the Claremont Colleges who live there, and much of the town exists in response to the schools there. It is also easy to get into the mountains to hike or ski or sail, or to the coast, or down to the desert for Jtree, Coachella, or paleontological stuff with the Alf Museum. Southern California is not a homogenous place though, and it is easy to burst out of the bubble of privilege that surrounds Webb.
2.) Describe the social life at your school - what did you like most about it?
I loved living in the same dorm as all my friends and thus having more time with them. Additionally I think the size of the school makes everyone on campus a known member of the community, so that no one is truly anonymous. Sometimes this is tiring, because you can never quite escape an interpersonal problem, but it’s also a lot of fun to get to know everyone as a person and not just their most prominent physical characteristic or extracurricular affiliation.
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