Brooks School - Review #4
About the Author:
|Years Attended Boarding School:||2006-2010|
|Sports and Activities:||Varsity Crew 3 years. JV hockey. Surfing independent.|
|College Enrolled:||University of San Diego|
|Home Town, State:||Andover, MA|
1.) What do you think makes your school unique relative to other boarding schools?
70/30 Boarding:Day student ratio gives the campus a unique feel. The school never feels "empty" and day students really feels a sense of community despite not living on campus. The dress code has relaxed since i've been there (coat and tie), but it took a lot of adjusting coming from a public school. It can feel a bit intimidating coming in as a freshman. Luckily, Brooks has a great mix of kids for being such a small school.
2.) What was the best thing that happened to you in boarding school?
Although no one admits it, the obvious end goal of any boarding school experience is to prepare you for a successful college career. And yes, Brooks did that for me. However, the only thing from Brooks that still resonates with me today are the relationships I developed there. Some of my best friends are kids I went to Brooks with. Those friends and the teachers who I saw on a daily basis were the people who helped mold me. So those who are in Brooks (or boarding school in general), don't get bogged down by the details (the new dorm, athletic fields, facilities, college statistics). All great things, sure, but look at the community of people who make up the school. Look at the relationships. That's what you're paying for, really. That's what will make a kid thrive. And that's while they'll remember.
3.) What might you have done differently during your boarding school experience?
I wouldn't have done anything different in my boarding school experience. My first two years at Brooks I was pretty obsessed about doing well in school and sort of burned myself out. My junior year, I started to take a step back, look at the bigger picture, and really engage with the people around me. Sure, my GPA fell a bit, but learned more in those two years than I ever had before. For kids going to boarding school, I can't emphasize enough how important it is to develop relationships with everyone around you. After four years, these will be some of the strongest friendships you will ever have. Other than that, stick to your passions. Just because you're at boarding school doesn't mean you have to give up on things that interest you. Pursue those passions 100% and share them with those around you.
4.) What did you like most about your school?
The community. I don't remember most of my classes, my grades, the scores of my games. I remember the people, the friendships, and taking comfort in knowing they would always be there for me.
5.) Do you have any final words of wisdom for visiting or incoming students to your school?
Don't take yourself too seriously. Be respectful. Be humble. Be curious. Engage in things and people that make you excited to wake up in the morning.
1.) Describe the academics at your school - what did you like most about it?
Small class sizes were a huge draw. It forces even the most shy students to develop a relationship with their peers and teachers. For high school-aged kids, the ability to seek guidance and advice from a teacher outside the classroom is invaluable. The small student body and campus size at Brooks means you see your teachers pretty much every day whether it be in the classroom, dorms, at meals etc. They are always around and always there to help. This is a little intimidating at first, but you'll find it's one of the most special aspects of Brooks. That said, the academics are no joke. Course loads can vary depending on how many Honors/AP classes kids take, but either way, there's always a few hours of homework in the mix every day. Combine this with the fact that you have to participate in an after-school activity, and you quickly realize how crucial time management is (especially with class on Saturday). Although it can be overwhelming at times, the non-stop schedule at Brooks made the jump to a college schedule a breeze.
1.) Describe the athletics at your school - what did you like most about it?
Again, the most valuable part of my athletic experience at Brooks was my relationship with teammates and coaches. It was pretty cool to be sitting in a Biology class and then a few hours later having the guy teaching me the Krebs cycle running the show out on the water. I know a lot of schools will hire outside coaches for many sports, but at Brooks it's pretty much all in-house. The cool thing about Brooks is everyone makes a team. There are JV and Thirds options for pretty much every sport so if someone is keen to try something new, they can. That said, many of the varsity programs (hockey, field hockey, soccer to name a few) are among the best in the ISL. Brooks has also become more supportive of individual athletic pursuits. Although I competed as a varsity rower in the spring, my true passion has always been surfing. As a sponsored competitive surfer, I was granted an independent study for the fall months and surfed every day after school. I admit, it took quite a bit of convincing to make that happen, but ultimately Brooks ended up supporting my passion.
1.) Describe the extracurriculars offered at your school - what did you like most about it?
There are a broad range of extracurricular activities to satisfy any student's passion. From clubs to community service Brooks has it all. The great thing about Brooks is that you can participate in some of these extracurricular to fulfill your required after school activity. So if you didn't want to play a sport one season, you could do community service instead. Again due to the size of Brooks all the clubs/extracurricular groups are pretty tight-knit. If nothing else, they're a great place to meet new friends.
1.) Describe the dorm life in your school - what did you like most about it?
I was a day student but spent a fair bit of time in the dorms with friends. Again, the sense of community is huge here. With a school the size of Brooks the dorms also emphasize that small community feel. There's always a lot of life and energy. I found they were great places for younger students to get to know the older kids. For someone who's shy, it's easy to stick to your own group of friends in your own grade. The dorms mixed all ages together which made those relationships more natural. Older students certainly get the best choice as far as room selection is concerned. Most dorms are either single or double rooms but the size/layout of those rooms vary a great deal dorm to dorm. Each dorm has its draw (proximity to the dining hall/school building/athletic center, room size, etc) It's all personal preference, really. Blake House was the best when I was there.
1.) Describe the dining arrangements at your school.
As I day student I usually only ate lunch and dinner at school, but the food was definitely above average. Plenty of different options usually consisting of a hot lunch/dinner option, salad bar, sandwich bar, and dessert bar. The dining staff was always friendly and went out of their way to make some special meals. The big downside to the dining was that there wasn't much to eat between meals, so if you missed breakfast and wanted a quick snack, you had to wait til lunch or buy something at the school store.
1.) Describe the school's town and surrounding area.
One of the biggest downfalls of Brooks. There really isn't much going on outside of campus. There's a good coffee shop/grocery store about a mile away but that's about it. The town of North Andover doesn't have much going on so your pretty much bound to campus. That all changes when day students (me) can drive. Boston is a 1/2 hour away and so is the beach. I utilized both on a regular basis with my friends. Get to know day students, I guess is what i'm saying.
2.) Describe the social life at your school - what did you like most about it?
Another big downfall. And I hope it's improved since I've been there. Honestly, there's not much going on besides a dance on Saturday night (and those get old quick). The person in charge of event planning when I was there did a poor job. There's actually some cool stuff within driving distance from Brooks (skiing, beach, Boston etc) but most of the weekend activities were based around campus. As a result, I spent a lot of weekends doing my own thing.
Alumni Reviews Review School
- Review Description
- Bates College Be prepared for a 6-day class week at Brooks. While Saturday classes are a requirement, schedules even out with a half day schedule on Wednesdays. . .
- Boston College The community at Brooks, including teachers, staff and students, all share an extremely tight-knit bond that I've never experienced at any other institution. Teachers care about the students, and get to know them extremely well. . .
- Lake Forest College One quality of Brooks that I am not sure is unique but will always stick out in my mind is the quality of the college counseling office. I do not believe I would have had. . .
What prompts somebody to start a boarding school? The motives range from idealism to munificence right on through to capitalism. The common thread seems to be ample capital and a vision of what education can do.
Social media is an essential part of a boarding school's marketing strategy
Parents considering schools should read New York Times columnist Frank Bruni's book about college admissions entitled Where You Go Is Not Who You Will Be: An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania. Much of what he says applies in the private K-12 world.