Mercersburg Academy - Review #6

Mercersburg Academy

About the Author:

College Enrolled Hillsdale College
Home Town, State (Country) Greencastle, PA, PA
Years Attended Boarding School 4
Activities During Boarding School Mercersburg Academy Dancers, Dance Co-Captain Catholic Club, President Senior Production Book Club Blue Key Ambassadors (admissions tour guide) music recitals

Reflections and Advice:

1.) What do you think makes your school unique relative to other boarding schools?
This school is one-of-a-kind. I could seriously write for hours. I guess one thing that really stands out above all the rest of the amazing parts of this school is the Burgin Center for the Arts. New as of 2006, this arts building far surpasses that of my college and all other colleges I toured in terms of quality of facilities, resources available, and overall quality of architecture. The teachers here are one of a kind. They not only have a passion for their art form, but also for youth. As a former member of the Mercersburg Academy Dancers, I can speak to the amazing quality of dance education available at Mercersburg Academy. The Academy is not an arts school, but the dance program has sent students on to professional programs. Ms. Denise Dalton, Director of Dance, is absolutely fantastic. She is incredibly well-educated, an amazingly gifted dancer, and an incredible teacher. Words honestly won't do her, the dance program, or any other aspect of the Burgin Center justice. Another aspect of Mercersburg that is just incredible is the amount of travel opportunities. Whether you are looking for service trips, language and cultural immersion, or general educational trips, there is a wealth of opportunities available. Through Mercersburg, I traveled to Nosara, Costa Rica for a field study in biology, the National High School Dance Festival in Miami, the Regional High School Dance Festival in Norfolk, VA, and Valladolid, Spain, for language immersion. Through Mercersburg, I was also able to spend a post-graduate year at Cheltenham College, a top boarding school in England. All of these were formative experiences for me, and they would not have been possible without Mercersburg.
2.) What was the best thing that happened to you in boarding school?
I became more self-sufficient. I understood the world better and that education is something to be pursued not only for a career but for its own purpose. I grew in my interpersonal and professional skills. I learned time-management. Boarding school changes you as a person, for better in some ways, for worse in others, but I changed in so many good ways. I would not be who I am today without my Mercersburg experience.
3.) What might you have done differently during your boarding school experience?
I was a day student. I was very anxious about fitting in and despaired when I saw all of the boarding students forming fast friendships while I felt like I was the only day student who didn't know all of the other day students already. I had just moved to the area and the other day students had all gone to the same few schools since kindergarten. I kind of shut down and became really cynical about people there. I thought they didn't care. But it was actually me shutting others out. My advice would be to know that everyone forms friendships at a different rate. For introverts like me, it can take much longer. But don't misinterpret people making friends faster than you as a rejection of you. Just continue to be friendly to everyone, try to get out, and know that you are about to meet your best friends for life. I talk every day with my three best friends from Mercersburg. Now in my senior year of college, I have met some really cool people here, but I have yet to meet anyone who means as much to me as my Mercrsburg friends. Just don't shut down if making friends seems hard at first.
4.) What did you like most about your school?
It felt like home. Simple as that.
5.) Do you have any final words of wisdom for visiting or incoming students to your school?
The dining hall cookies are to die for. Try studying on the fourth floor of the library. The Burgin Center is full of secrets; see if you can get an upperclassman to give you a comprehensive tour. You have to make it to the undeground pool at some point. South Cottage is the best women's upperclassman dorm. Very homey.


1.) Describe the academics at your school - what did you like most about it?
The academics are honestly challenging. The workload is comparable with my college, and I didn't pick an "easy" college. I had to transition very rapidly from effortless As with minimal homework in middle school to the rigorous academics of Mercersburg, but the teachers made it easy to grow in my skills as a student. They are passionate about what they teach and this made it much easier for this English student to write in-depth physics lab reports. I really appreciate the efforts made by the intelligent and caring teachers here at this school.


1.) Describe the athletics at your school - what did you like most about it?
I didn't personally take part in athletics, but every student had to take part in a Performance Group Activity, which encompasses athletics and the arts. For students whose PGA did not involve an extremely physical component (e.g., theatre/tech crew) they were required to work out several days a week in the fitness center, which is really a top-notch facility. The exception to this rule was when the theatre department put on a very physically active rendition of Antigone, with lots of stage combat and the like. So while I can't speak to athletics directly, I know that they are an integral part of life at Mercersburg. Swimming especially enjoys frequent placing at Easterns, and baseball does well also. The Nolde Gymnasium was just renovated in 2012(?) and it is absolutely beautiful. If I were an athlete, I would look forward to practice every day simply because of that beautiful building. As a dancer, I certainly made frequent use of the fitness center. It is absolutely beautiful. There is even an elevated indoor track.

Art, Music, and Theatre:

1.) Describe the arts program at your school - what did you like most about it?
YES. Amazing. If you are at all artistically inclined, or even if you're not, Mercersburg is THE PLACE to be. As I mentioned before, the arts building is absolutely beautiful. It is required to take two fine arts classes to graduate, and I know many students who started in the Level 1 class of an art form and then went on to study it in college. Mercersburg breeds and cultivates incredible artistic talent. While it is not an arts school, we are competitive with schools devoted to the fine arts while also maintaining the rigorous academic setting of a liberal arts college prep boarding school. Artists all support each other. There is no ugliness or rivalry. This place is amazing for the arts.

Extracurricular Opportunities:

1.) Describe the extracurriculars offered at your school - what did you like most about it?
While it was a wonder if I ever had time for anything outside of school and dance, there was plenty to do. I particularly enjoyed book club. Each month, book club meets to discuss the book that we all read, of which each member of the club receives a complimentary copy. Books I remember reading include "The Thirteenth Tale," "Water for Elephants," "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy," "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?," and "The Brothers Grimm." While there was definitely a strong fantasy slant to the club while I was involved, the book selections were voted on by student members each month so most people got to read what they wanted to read.

Dorm Life:

1.) Describe the dorm life in your school - what did you like most about it?
I loved how close you grew with everyone on your hall and with the dorm faculty. They really became like family. You could organize the room however you wanted, so that freedom was nice. People generally got into the dorms they wanted to get into. However, if one thing could be improved, it would be late night food access. You had to rely on the food you kept in your own room if you wanted anything to eat after dinner.


1.) Describe the dining arrangements at your school.
Honestly, the dining service kind of got me down sometimes. The food was okay, but if you're plant-based, there weren't too many appetizing options. Aside from that, the assigned seating was a dud. If you didn't like your table, you were screwed for the next two weeks. I honestly didn't make any new friends via assigned seating, even though that's what the table system is designed for.

Social and Town Life:

1.) Describe the school's town and surrounding area.
It's certainly quaint. There aren't many distractions. A lot of people complain about it, but honestly, I was always too busy with school and dance. There were periodic trips to Walmart in the event that students needed food or groceries.
2.) Describe the social life at your school - what did you like most about it?
Everyone is friends is everyone. Sure, there are people you aren't super fond of, but that doesn't take away from the overall atmosphere of mutual respect, even among those vastly different from each other. Popular girls praised the theatre geeks for their performances, athletes respectfully asked mathletes for homework help. As a student based locally, I frequently took international students home for breaks. Everyone is so different at Mercersburg, so the only way to have a good group of friends is to embrace and celebrate those differences and Mercersburg really instilled that in me.

Daily Schedule:

9:00 AMclass
10:00 AMclass
11:00 AMfree
12:15 PMlunch
1:00 PMclass
2:00 PMclass
3:00 PMclass
4:15 PMdance
6:30 PMdinner
7:00 PMhomework
12:00 AMlunch
1:00 PMhomework

Alumni Reviews
  Review School

  • Review Description
  • Mercersburg Academy Alumni #1
    Class of 2017
    5 Stars   10/18/2017
    Duke University
    Opportunity and Community were the two buzzwords that largely encompass my Mercersburg experience. What lies between these two speaks just as loudly. There is a certain "presence of the present" that exists at Mercersburg that. . .
  • Mercersburg Academy Alumni #2
    Class of 2017
    5 Stars   10/24/2017
    Georgetown University
    Building a sense of community is definitely a theme throughout boarding schools, but how well Mercersburg cultivates community sets it apart. Students are required to participate in an afterschool activity every term and since the. . .
  • Mercersburg Academy Alumni #3
    Class of 2017
    5 Stars   12/8/2017
    Johns Hopkins University
    Mercersburg Academy is certainly known for its beautiful, spacious campus that rivals no other. The picturesque landscape is often seen bustling with students during the early hours of the day and scattered with a few. . .
  • Mercersburg Academy Alumni #4
    Class of 2016
    5 Stars   8/28/2017
    College of William and Mary
    One of the most defining aspects of Mercersburg Academy, and one of the most significant parts of the school in my experience is the number of ways they encourage their students to either travel or. . .
  • Mercersburg Academy Alumni #5
    Class of 2016
    5 Stars   12/3/2016
    Tufts University
    We have sit-down meals everyday of the weekday. The tables rotate every two weeks so you really get to know different faculties and students. We also have Irving-Marshall week, so students are divided into two. . .
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