Phillips Exeter Academy - Review #1

Read more details about Phillips Exeter Academy on their 2023 profile page.
Phillips Exeter Academy

About the Author:

Years Attended Boarding School:
Sports and Activities:
Club Lacrosse Club Hockey Japan-America Society Spanish Table Wind Ensemble Dormitory Proctor
College Enrolled:
University of Virginia
Home Town, State:
Richmond, VA

Reflections and Advice:

1.) What do you think makes your school unique relative to other boarding schools?
Having gone to inner-city schools for elementary and middle school, Exeter was a different world for me. What most struck me about academic life was the Harkness teaching method. The small class size really allowed you to get to know your professors and other students. The method of having the students run the conversation with the professor there to steer it in the right direction really developed our intellect because information was not being spoon-fed to us.Exeter also gave me the opportunity to go abroad. The school offers numerous term-abroad and year-abroad programs. I participated in the year long School Year Abroad Program to Spain my Junior year. This program, which is sponsored by Exeter, Andover, and St. Paul's, allows students to spend a year abroad in a school that is as academically challenging as the home schools so that you can get the "abroad experience" without losing a year of high school. It was a wonderful year.
2.) What was the best thing that happened to you in boarding school?
I was able to become very independent at an early age by attending boarding school. Living away from home in such a challenging academic environment made me really grow mentally and emotionally in ways I would not have been able to if I had stayed at home for high school. I was able to have so many opportunities that many kids my age could never have. The transition to college was extremely easy; the hardest thing about going to college for me was having to leave Exeter. I feel that I was able to better enjoy and grow in college because I already knew how to live on my own and manage my academics. I felt like my college preparation was lightyears ahead of my peers.
3.) What might you have done differently during your boarding school experience?
I would have joined more activities. The workload really intimidated me when I first arrived there and I did not join a lot.I would not have done anything differently in the application process.
4.) What would you never want to change about your school?
The closeness of the students and faculty. It was nice to have everyone know your name and something about you. I am grateful for the relationships I built at Exeter.I would also never change the scholarship program. I went to Exeter with full tuition paid and I hope that I too can help another student who could not otherwise afford Exeter be a student there.
5.) What things could be improved about your school?
Many students are very stressed due to the workload and to their parents. I am not sure how this could be improved, because although the workload is large I do not think it should be changed, and the school cannot change parent's attitudes.
6.) Do you have any final words of wisdom for visiting or incoming students to your school?
Dvnbar Hall is a great dorm; don't be turned off by the fact that it is so large. The number of girls gives you more people to get to know. The location is great too.Get to know the custodian in your dorm. The one in Dvnbar was like a mother to many of us.The cheese fries at the grill are awesome, and the Jazz Brunch at the dining hall should not be missed. Also, the Loaf and Ladle has the best chili and the Exeter Inn has the best clam chowder I have ever had!


1.) What did you like best about your school’s academics?
I liked the Harkness method of teaching because of the amount of control the students were given over their studies, and the relationship that it fostered between students and teachers. I also liked the variety of courses that were offered as electives.
2.) What did you like least about the academics in your school?
The workload is VERY challenging. My first semester was a large adjustment for me coming from public schools. After my Prep (Freshman year) I was able to learn how to balance my studies.


1.) What did you like best about your school’s athletics?
I liked that there were so many sports offered at so many different levels of competition. You didn't have to be at the varsity level to play sports there, so everyone could be included in athletics.Many of the sports teams were very good so I enjoyed attending athletic events.
2.) What did you like least about the athletics in your school?
Nothing that I can think of.

Art, Music, and Theatre:

1.) What did you like best about your school’s art program?
I was heavily involved in music, taking lessons and being in the Wind Ensemble. The music building is amazing and a great place to practice and play. So I liked the facility as well as the opportunities to play.
2.) What did you like least about your school’s art program?
Lessons were pretty expensive, but there are plenty of scholarships available (I received one.)

Extracurricular Opportunities:

1.) What did you like most about the extracurricular activities offered at your school?
I liked the variety of activities. Many organizations would host events and fairs which were always fun and different.
2.) What did you like least about the extracurricular activities offered at your school?
I found it to be difficult to balance activities with the large workload.

Dorm Life:

1.) What was the best thing about dorm life in your school?
I LOVED THE DORMS. Everyone lives in the dorm in which they are placed when they first enter Exeter, and for some reason it almost always fits. Few people switch dorms. I was in the largest girls' dorm which had 65 people, so I entered Freshman year with 19 other Freshman and was able to live with them for all my years at Exeter. We truly became a family as we grew up together. I also became really close with the faculty who live in the dorms because they really look out for the students.
2.) What did you like least about dorm life?


1.) What was the best thing about your dining arrangements?
I liked the variety of food; they had hot food, a stir-fry bar, salad bar, sandwich station, etc. The breakfast was especially good.
2.) What did you like least about your dining arrangements?
The food was not always that great, but I think that is a common complaint about institutional food. If you did not like something there was always another option.

Social and Town Life:

1.) How welcome did you feel by the other students when you first arrived at the school
I felt very welcomed. The faculty and proctors in the dorms were all very vigilant and looked out for us. Many of our classes were with freshmen only, so we really got to know each other well. I quickly met other people with interests in common with my own and did not have trouble fitting in.
2.) Describe the level of diversity and integration of students in your school:
Exeter was very diverse. I believe the ethnic makeup of the school mirrored that of the United States. There were cliques that formed among certain ethnicities, but on the whole I felt that people belonged to so many groups (like clubs, athletic teams, dorms) that while they may group themselves with members of their same ethnic group at times they also grouped themselves with others as well.
3.) Describe typical fun activities you did on a weekend:
There were dances, shuttles to Boston on weekends, movies, entertainers, bands.
4.) What was the town like?
The town is really SMALL. I would go into town for lunch on the weekends or to buy things. There is a movie theatre but movies often run there for a very long time. There are many restaurants frequented by students.Further from the town center there was a place with supermarkets and a mall, and the school offered shuttles there on Wednesdays and weekends.

Daily Schedule:

8:00 AM
9:00 AM
10:00 AM
11:00 AM
12:00 AM
1:00 PM
3:00 PM
4:00 PM
6:00 PM
7:00 PM
Club meetings
9:00 PM
1:00 AM
8:00 AM
12:30 AM
Class ends
1:00 PM
Lunch in town
3:00 PM
Watch tv with dorm friends, attend athletic events
6:00 PM
Order out dinner
8:00 PM
Go to dance/performer/hang out with friends in dorm
Read more details about Phillips Exeter Academy on their 2023 profile page.

Alumni Reviews Review School

Phillips Exeter Academy Alumni #1
Class of 2021
5.00 6/10/2022
Vassar College
Phillips Exeter is distinct for its use of the Harkness Method and its unique athletic opportunities afforded by a robust alumni network and excellent teachers from various high-level academic positions within their fields. Harkness, a. . .
Phillips Exeter Academy Alumni #2
Class of 2020
5.00 4/27/2020
Harvard College
The Harkness method is one of Exeter's unique and best aspects. Teachers have very little involvement in class — homework is either reading or problem based, and nearly every class, from Math to English. . .
Phillips Exeter Academy Alumni #3
Class of 2019
5.00 1/14/2020
Colorado College
Exeter is the founding place of the Harkness method, in which students gather around a round table to discuss their homework and class material as a group. The idea of this method is that. . .
Show more reviews (27 reviews)

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Quick Stats (2023)

  • Enrollment: 1,080 students
  • Yearly Tuition (Boarding Students): $61,121
  • Yearly Tuition (Day Students): $47,739
  • Acceptance rate: 10%
  • Average class size: 12 students
  • Application Deadline: Jan. 15
  • Source: Verified school update