Kent School - Review #8
About the Author:
|Years Attended Boarding School:||2012-2015|
|Sports and Activities:||1. JV Softball 2. Varsity Swim 3. Club Crew 4. Theater|
|College Enrolled:||Albion College|
|Home Town, State:||Mohawk, MI|
1.) What do you think makes your school unique relative to other boarding schools?
I hadn't attended any other boarding schools besides Kent, so I don't know much about other schools beyond what I saw when I visited other campuses for sporting events. From what I understand, Kent is a very traditional boarding school. Small classes, a learning experience that is essentially tailored to your own specific needs and interests, and a tightly-knit community make up the "Kent experience", if you will.
2.) What was the best thing that happened to you in boarding school?
For me, choosing which boarding school to go to was difficult. But I never regretted going to Kent. I was able to grow so much as a person and really discover who I am. Kent pushed me to go outside of my comfort zone and try new things that I never would have tried on my own. For example, I was never a very competitive person, but I tried out for the swim team my junior year and I ended up loving it and wishing I had started swimming competitively earlier. The school also pushed me to try new things academically. It was at Kent that I discovered my love and aptitude for languages. The language department at Kent is staffed with incredible teachers that do an amazing job encouraging you to speak. If you stick with it, you will be at least proficient in the language of your choice by the end of your three or four years at Kent. Kent also pushed me academically, which enabled me to discover that if I applied myself, I could be excel at anything I wanted to. It also taught me how to be independent, which is arguably the most important thing I learned. It made my transition to college effortless, as I had basically been living it for the past three years!
3.) What might you have done differently during your boarding school experience?
My advice for incoming students is to remember that you are there to learn. It's really hard to keep that in mind at first because you are surrounded by people your age, you're away from home for the first time, and it just makes you want to party and hang out with your friends all the time. While its great to be making connections with people and building great friendships, you also need to be aware that high school matters. Colleges look at your grades and extracurricular activities from start to finish. Kent gives you all the tools you need to succeed, so it's up to you to take advantage of them and really make your high school experience incomparable to others. Only a small percentage of American teenagers get this opportunity, so make the most of it!
4.) What did you like most about your school?
Overall, the thing best thing about Kent was the friendships I made there, both with faculty and students. My roommate for my junior and senior years at Kent is still one of my best friends, even though I go to school in Michigan and she is at college in Virginia. We recently took a spring break trip together after not seeing each other since graduation and it was like we had never left! You also form close relationships with your favorite teachers. They are the ones that teach you the most, and you will find that that knowledge is invaluable in college!
5.) Do you have any final words of wisdom for visiting or incoming students to your school?
Even if you're not into music, you should absolutely go check out the music rooms on top of the dining hall. I was an awful piano player, but if I ever felt like my head was just too full of thoughts, or I needed some time to myself, I'd go up there and just play the piano or sing for a little in one of the soundproof rooms. They're built to hold only a couple people at a time, so it's the perfect place to just get away from everything for a little.
1.) Describe the academics at your school - what did you like most about it?
The best thing about the academics at Kent was that it is essentially set up like a liberal arts college. Students are required to take certain subjects, but they have a little choice in which classes they would like to take, which allows them to take classes that interest them while still educating them in said subject. Similarly, in your junior and/or senior year, if there was one area of study you absolutely hated, you could opt to take two classes in a different subject that you were more interested in. I enjoyed that as I was not a fan of history, and thankfully after my sophomore year I didn't have to take any more classes in that department (I am currently an international studies major, and history/political science classes make up a majority of my curriculum, so that just shows you that while your interests may change, Kent will prepare you for college regardless of whether or not you take classes that align with what you decide to study in college). On the other hand, if there is a specific issue that you are really interested in, you can opt to do an independent study, in which you and a faculty member of your choice work one-on-one on a presentation or project that delves deeper into a topic that you are really passionate about. Another thing I really enjoyed were the small classes. Most boarding schools have them, but teachers at Kent are really good about making sure that each student understands the material, and if they don't then they make sure that they find new ways to explain it so that they do. There were also free periods given once a week to give students and teachers the time to meet with each other about course material that the student has trouble grasping. Basically, Kent makes sure you succeed.
1.) Describe the athletics at your school - what did you like most about it?
The school year at Kent was split up into trimesters, Fall, Winter, and Spring. It was mandatory to participate in a competitive sport (on a JV or Varsity team that competed with other schools) for two of the three trimesters. The other trimester you could choose an intramural sport (club sports that don't compete with other schools) or a different after school activity like art or gym or theater. I know a some people who weren't interested in sports, and they got away with taking dance for a trimester or two, and somehow that counted for their sport requirement, so there are opportunities for everyone to do something they love. There are A TON of different sports offered at Kent, and if they don't have one you're looking for then you can go out and start a club sport yourself. For example, I know Kent didn't offer Volleyball, which was something a lot of girls, including myself, were interested in. Unfortunately, we were all involved in fall activities and never put together a team, but the opportunity was there!
1.) Describe the arts program at your school - what did you like most about it?
I took a couple theater and art classes at Kent and I participated in theater as an after school program in the winter trimester my sophomore year. I hadn't had much theater experience beyond playing a goose in my 5th grade play, but the theater teacher gave constructive advice and found a role for everyone. I was also awful at art, but so were a lot of people in that class. Teachers in the arts recognize that not everyone has raw talent in these departments, but they definitely help you discover and cultivate whatever talent you do have. The students who are actually dedicated to (and very talented in) the arts are helpful as well, so you get advice from both your peers and the teachers. So even if you are totally dreading that art class you have to take to graduate, its not actually as bad as you think. You'll actually probably end up enjoying it and come out with a new appreciation for the artistic community. You never truly appreciate a piece of art until you try to create something yourself.
1.) Describe the extracurriculars offered at your school - what did you like most about it?
There are a ton of extracurriculars at Kent. If you're interested, they'll have it and if they don't you can go ahead and start your own because chances are there are other students who are share the same interests as you. There are also a ton of volunteer opportunities both during and outside the school year. There are all kinds of trips to cool places like South America and the middle of the ocean with organizations like Habitat for Humanity, among many others. During the school year, different groups put together bags for students in need of supplies, people overseas in need of basic sanitation goods like toothpaste and soap, and other things for people in need. Within the student body, Kent fosters a great sense of the importance of volunteering and helping out other people. Students are encouraged to come up with their own ideas for helping people, which really creates a community that is all about giving back.
1.) Describe the dorm life in your school - what did you like most about it?
Dorm life has its ups and downs, but Kent really tries to make it easy for everyone to get the most out of it. Although you will most likely go in blind your first year (unless you know someone who is also going to Kent in which case you can ask to room with them), its not anything to worry about. Most people get along really well with their first roommate! If you're like me and you and your first roommate just don't get along and can't resolve their issues, then switching roommates isn't a difficult process at all. You just have to go to one of the dorm parents and explain the situation. Then, if you have a person you'd like to room with you can move in with them, or if you don't know anyone who needs a roommate, you will be paired with another person in your dorm who is in need of a new roommate. While you are encouraged to work out your problems first, its really not difficult to switch rooms if you have differences you can't get over. Kent really tries to make living together as easy as possible.
1.) Describe the dining arrangements at your school.
There's a dining hall at Kent that works with class and sports schedules so that its open when you have time to eat between classes and after practice. And there's always cereal and bagels out just in case you want a snack or you missed lunch/dinner/breakfast for whatever reason. The dining hall itself always has a salad bar, a sandwich bar, pizza or pasta, and some kind of soup. The hot food is always different and usually really good (A+ do recommend the eggplant parm), but on days when you're just not feeling it or the line is really long (burger and fries days) the other stations are always open. Kent has formal dinner on Thursdays, when you stay in dress code and you sit with your academic adviser and the rest of the people in your advising group. But other than that, outside of the academic day you can wear whatever you want to the dining hall.
1.) Describe the school's town and surrounding area.
Kent is literally a five minute walk from the town of Kent, which is super small and cute. There's Kent Coffee and Chocolate, a coffee shop that serves beverages to rival Starbucks, and amazing chocolate and baked goods, and all kinds of other places to eat that people usually go to for brunch on the weekends. There are also a bunch of little shops around that makes it easy to get anything you want/need. Its really nice to be right next to the town because it gives you something to do on the weekends as well as a little distance from campus without the hassle of finding a ride. The town is also a really great place to take pictures because there's all kinds of cool artwork and sculptures, and its always beautiful. In the fall, Kent has some of the most beautifully colored trees in all of New England (don't believe me? Google it!). In the winter, everything is covered in ice and snow, making the town a true winter wonderland. And in the spring, everything is impossibly green. Kent's campus is also right on the Appalachian trail, so hiking is a great excursion too!
2.) Describe the social life at your school - what did you like most about it?
Living on campus means that there's always something to do! Common rooms are usually occupied by groups of people watching a movie or just hanging out. There's always people playing ultimate frisbee or other fun games on the grass in the center of campus. In the winter, the ice skating rink is open for people to go out and skate for a few hours. There are also dances that happen a few times a trimester, which are really fun. The music is always good and there's usually some type of food hanging around. Even if you don't have a date, its great to just get a couple of your friends together to just dance and sing. On the weekends, people usually go out to eat in town. If you feel like getting away from Kent for a little, there are usually buses that go out to the movies, the mall, or some other fun place. Even just having a low key weekend and staying on campus is fun because you're with your friends. Though you may feel like it can be a little overbearing sometimes, you can also just go for a walk and get away from the social scene for a while in the art rooms, the music rooms, or just by the water.
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Here are some considerations to ponder whilst choosing schools and when your child is actually away at school.
Do you like large schools or small schools? Are you most comfortable in a city, small town or countryside? Are you interested in attending a school that has a religious or military orientation? Would you like to attend a school that is only for boys or girls? These are some questions you must ask yourself before you begin your search for the right U.S. boarding school for you.
Here then are a dozen boarding schools which charge approximately $20,000 per year or less for tuition, room and board.