Choate Rosemary Hall - Review #7
About the Author:
|Years Attended Boarding School:||2014-2018|
|Sports and Activities:||Varsity cross country, varsity track and field, section editor of The Choate News, writing tutor, Gold Key Society (tour guide), Committee on Student Activities|
|College Enrolled:||Williams College|
|Home Town, State:||Killingworth, CT|
1.) What do you think makes your school unique relative to other boarding schools?
Choate manages to combine the academic breadth of a larger prep school with an intimate community composed of thoughtful and intentional students. From eight academic signature programs to outstanding theatrical productions to our annual varsity sweep on Deerfield Day, Choate offers an amazing amount of ways to engage with your passions deeply. At the same time, though, ours is a community dedicated to working together: with weekly school-wide gatherings, an annual service day, and strong traditions rooted in our combined talents, Choate very purposefully builds a network of supportive and involved peers who work for others' mutual successes.Our community is also dedicated to keeping abreast of new technologies and ways of learning. We've used an integrated iPad program in all of our classrooms since 2012, we recently built a state-of-the-art student center finished in 2017, and an expansion to the (already wonderful!) Paul Mellon Arts Center is set to be completed in 2019.
2.) What was the best thing that happened to you in boarding school?
Before coming to Choate, I thought of myself as a smart kid: generally academically inclined, yes, but with no real passions or purpose in mind. At boarding school, that “smart kid” conception totally shattered into pieces. I focused less on my grades in classes and more on what I could learn from them. I found a real passion for English literature and realized that was what I wanted to spend the rest of my life working with. And in the process, I made close connections with peers and faculty who all unequivocally pushed me to be my best.
3.) What might you have done differently during your boarding school experience?
If I could do it all over again, I would've been much less hesitant about myself and my own capabilities. I entered Choate knowing that it would be challenging for me, but I think that knowledge also made me a little too tentative, causing me to reduce academic and extracurricular involvement during my freshman year in the hopes of making my first semester more manageable. Your first term at Choate is going to be a major life adjustment regardless of how busy you are. But don't limit yourself. You're capable of more than you think.
4.) What did you like most about your school?
The opportunity to get to know my professors personally was a real turning point for me at Choate. It helped me discover more about my own interests and skills while also illuminating fascinating truths about all of my areas of study.
5.) Do you have any final words of wisdom for visiting or incoming students to your school?
The Choate campus is one of the most beautiful venues you could find yourself in for four years, so make sure to explore it to the fullest. As a starting point, there are some seldom-used tunnels underneath the dining hall that are fun to explore. Use this as inspiration to find your own "hidden gem" spots on campus.
1.) Describe the academics at your school - what did you like most about it?
It's with supreme graduate that I say this: Classes at Choate are hard. You'll be pushed to think in directions you didn't know existed, turn in problem sets only to receive them back covered in red ink, and hand in near-perfect essays that net you a B-. This is an amazing asset. Because classes at Choate are small (averaging around 12 students), your teachers very quickly learn how to personally challenge you. You'll be asked to engage with subjects beyond rote memorization, often while experimenting with new technologies and ways of learning in the process.While this challenge can sound intimidating, I found it immensely helpful in truly learning a subject---struggling though questions of how to apply concepts rather than simply how to memorize them. Professors at Choate are also consistently available for extra help each week, and it's encouraged for students to seek their assistance out of class. Often, I'd end up meeting with teachers during office hours, not just for extra help, but also to continue in-class discussions I found particularly interesting. These out-of-class discussions were amazingly insightful, and they're a testament to the learning atmosphere that our faculty cultivate far after class has ended.
1.) Describe the athletics at your school - what did you like most about it?
Students are required to complete some kind of athletic or afternoon activity during each of their terms at Choate; the requirements are fairly prescriptive freshman and sophomore year but become more open-ended the closer you get to graduation. I'd never thought of myself as an athlete before Choate, and, in that sense, having a sports requirement was a productive challenge for me. During my sophomore year, I started running cross country and track, where I found an unexpected new support system. Running at Choate is amazingly kind: our team has a lot of school spirit and will continue to cheer raucously until every runner has crossed the finish line. This is also due, in large part, to a fantastic coach who made sure that every runner felt supported in his or her individual training plan.
1.) Describe the arts program at your school - what did you like most about it?
I took three arts classes at Choate: an introductory acting course, a lecture course on 20th century music, and an interdisciplinary architecture history seminar taught by our current headmaster. While art is not my main area of interest, these classes all helped me expand my range as a student and exposed me to new ways of thinking about the world. In particular, my architecture history course is a testament to the effective arts education at Choate: not only was it taught by our current headmaster (an indication of his accessibility among the student body), but it combined analysis of classical architecture with a study of the architecturally relevant buildings on Choate campus. This combination of the historical and the personal helped make the class feel increasingly relevant, and it sparked a new interest in a subject area I hadn't considered before.
1.) Describe the extracurriculars offered at your school - what did you like most about it?
Choate has approximately 100 clubs on campus, and students are welcome to work with the Committee on Student Activities if they'd like to create an organization that doesn't yet exist. We have a student newspaper that's been publishing for more than 112 years, as well as several new publications like a satire magazine and a quarterly science research review. Clubs and publications frequently host weekend events, such as movie showings and service activities, that are open to the entire Choate community and enhance our robust campus life offerings.
1.) Describe the dorm life in your school - what did you like most about it?
I was a day student, so I can't speak on the day-to-day aspects of dorm life at Choate. However, I spent quite a bit of time in the dorms, and I enjoyed the events and traditions within each living space. Regular "mug nights"---a gathering time in which dorm advisers share their favorite desserts in the common room---create community and allow students to get to know their housemates, and smaller traditions like themed dorm photos or group outings are also common.
1.) Describe the dining arrangements at your school.
The dining hall contains several unofficial “sections” by form (freshman section, sophomore/junior section, and senior section), which can simplify trying to find your friends when you first enter the dining area for a meal. There are no formal sit-down lunches during the normal school calendar.While the food is a step up from my previous school, it can be hard not to get sick of the dining hall after eating there every day for four years. Dining Services is definitely making an effort to combat this—they have weekly themed meals which help diversify the menu, and we even have a current student sit on the Dining Hall Committee to advise potential changes to the menu.
1.) Describe the school's town and surrounding area.
Wallingford has a variety of restaurants and shops within walking distance, and the town is teeming with places to explore. Dolittle Park (around a five-minute walk from campus) is a great place to get some homework done or read a book, and since it's rarely frequented by other students, it's also a great way to get out of the "Choate bubble" for an afternoon. If you want to go on a scenic nature walk a bit off the beaten path, the Quinnipiac River Trail is another must-see. There's also a Walmart and an array of fast food restaurants around a 30-minute walk or a five-minute Uber away.
2.) Describe the social life at your school - what did you like most about it?
Because Choate attracts so many high-achievers, social groups often tend to form around common areas of interest: sports teams, students in certain signature programs, etc. There are always a litany of weekend events available for students to participate in, ranging from student dances to service projects to baking food in the student kitchens. School spirit also helps contribute to the social scene, particularly on Deerfield Day and during other major athletic competitions.
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