Phillips Exeter Academy - Review #11

Read more details about Phillips Exeter Academy on their 2024 profile page.
Phillips Exeter Academy

About the Author:

Years Attended Boarding School:
Sports and Activities:
Soccer (JV, 2 years) (Co-captain 1 year) Swimming (Varsity and JV, 3 years) Water Polo (Varsity, 3 years) (Co-captain 1 year)Feminist Club (2 years) Dormitory Proctor (Senior year) Student Listener (2 years) ESSO (multiple different community service groups) (3 years) WPEA (radio station) (2 years) (board member 1 year)
College Enrolled:
Harvey Mudd College
Home Town, State:
Green Bay, WI

Reflections and Advice:

1.) What do you think makes your school unique relative to other boarding schools?
Exeter is known for the Harkness method, and for good reason. Because we use it in every class, it really permeates all other aspects of life at Exeter. Even casual conversations at the dining hall or club meetings flow like a Harkness conversation. It makes students better listeners, and they have more thoughtful responses when speaking.
2.) What was the best thing that happened to you in boarding school?
Exeter is the best thing that ever happened to me. I got to travel around the country through Exeter trips or by visiting friends. I learned a lot about myself and a lot about the world around me. I was exposed to a diverse group of people for the first time in my life, and that greatly impacted my teenage experience. I learned how to think for myself and how to ask for help.
3.) What might you have done differently during your boarding school experience?
I would have gotten more involved with clubs earlier on. I loved the clubs I was in my upper and senior years.Remember to enjoy your experience! Sometimes it can be easy to get caught up in what you have to do for this class, or preparing for that test, or applying for that program, but remember that you'll never have another experience like boarding school.
4.) What did you like most about your school?
Overall, the best part of Exeter is the people. The faculty and staff provide amazing support systems, and my classmates provided great thought and friendship. I've made lifelong connections with some of the faculty and my friends from Exeter.
5.) Do you have any final words of wisdom for visiting or incoming students to your school?
Get involved with clubs early on; you don't have to wait until Lower or Upper year! It's a great way to meet people and make friends.Get to know some of the adults on campus!


1.) Describe the academics at your school - what did you like most about it?
I appreciated that there were multiple tracks for science and mathematics. As a STEM-oriented student, I was able to take classes that challenged me with other STEM-oriented students. I also appreciated the trimester system because we were able to take a greater variety of classes. For example, the history and religion department had so many unique classes including Pre-colonial African History and Religion and Pop Culture.Additionally, small class sizes meant that you got to know your teacher and classmates well. I loved the teachers at ExeterIt was a difficult workload, with each class having around an hour of homework between each meeting. With most of the weekly homework, you could choose to not complete the math problems or all of the readings, which would reduce workload, but class went better when most people gave an honest attempt at the homework. I found that most people worked hard and did their share of work so that class would go well.I personally did not find classes competitive because most people did not discuss their grades. Around college admissions season there was a bit more of a competitive culture with people comparing themselves, but it was more internal than external.


1.) Describe the athletics at your school - what did you like most about it?
Everyone was required to do a PE class or a sport every trimester (except juniors and seniors once per year). I liked that a lot of the JV teams allowed people to try sports they hadn't done before. There were so many sports available that I hadn't even heard of before, which was really neat. I also really liked the culture of the sports; teams became close friends. For competitiveness against other schools, it depended on the sport and year. We usually didn't do well in football, but athletes were recruited from all teams, even those who didn't perform well in conference.Exeter had really nice facilities, and they've continued to renovate. Additionally, I had good experiences with most coaches. Some academic teachers also coached sports teams, and other coaches were full-time PE teachers. There were a few coaches who weren't as great, but for the most part I had great experiences with coaches.

Art, Music, and Theatre:

1.) Describe the arts program at your school - what did you like most about it?
I did Concert Band and private lessons my Lower year, and I enjoyed playing with fellow students. I did not continue because it didn't fit into my schedule; it was at night and the time commitment was too much for me. However, many students did music every year. Concert Band wasn't that serious of a class, which I liked, but Orchestra and Concert Choir were more serious pursuits. A lot of students did A Capella or dance because there was a bunch of different groups. One of the best Assemblies every term was Dance Assembly. Exeter recently invested in the arts more, building a new concert hall and a new Dance/Theater studio.

Extracurricular Opportunities:

1.) Describe the extracurriculars offered at your school - what did you like most about it?
There was a huge variety of clubs on campus because students would start new clubs every year. Sometimes it was overwhelming or disappointing because I wanted to participate in more clubs and activities than I had time for.ESSO is the social service organization, and they provide both long-term volunteering commitments and one-time events. For example, I taught swim lessons for several years, and I also would help at Red Cross blood drives.There were also affinity groups. Many clubs functioned as weekly discussion groups who also had campus events.Others were for doing certain activities, like WPEA (radio) or Math Club.

Dorm Life:

1.) Describe the dorm life in your school - what did you like most about it?
I loved the dorms at Exeter. We had a lot of dorm pride, and we were quite close. Most of my friends lived in my dorm. All four class years live in the same dorms, and most people stay in the same dorm every year. You can transfer to a different dorm if you petition, but most elect to stay in their dorm. Faculty live in the dorm in apartments that connect to the halls where students live. There are also affiliate faculty who live in separate houses but still have duty at night.Room draw happened by dorm. It was a lottery system by class year. Most uppers and seniors lived in singles, and most preps and lowers in doubles.On school nights, preps and lowers had check-in at 8 PM, uppers at 9 PM, and seniors at 10 PM. Fridays, everyone checked in at 10 PM and Saturdays at 11 PM. You could get food until 9:30 PM at Grill, but if you were already checked in, you had to ask an upper classman to get you food. You were also allowed to get delivery until about 10 PM.The rooms were really nice, albeit a bit old. The rooms are pretty large, especially compared to most college dorm rooms. They feel very homey compared to college dorms as well. Common rooms were often central to a dorm, and people congregate to socialize or do homework (often both at the same time).


1.) Describe the dining arrangements at your school.
There are two dining halls, Elm, which is on South side, and Wetherell, on North side. I liked that there was a dining hall open all day, so if you needed a snack, you could just go in. They always had bagels/toast and fruit for snacks. The food was also pretty good.There was not assigned seating per say, but different wings of the dining hall were usually for different groups. Many dorms had dorm tables, and athletes usually sat in one area after practice in Elm. Faculty also had places they usually sat with their families.I liked the culture that you could come into the dining hall to do homework and sit alone on the side somewhere, or you could come with friends and socialize. Sometimes there was a pressure to not sit alone if you weren't doing work, so a lot of people ate with their dorm.

Social and Town Life:

1.) Describe the school's town and surrounding area.
I liked that Exeter was right in the town. We were allowed to go into town whenever we wanted (as long as it wasn't past check-in), and I really appreciated that freedom. If you wanted to go get ice cream or go out to dinner, there were plenty of options within walking distance. A lot of students got general supplies from the Walgreen's, which was about a 20 minute walk. There's also a bank and post office very close by, which was handy. Additionally, it was nice to walk by the Exeter river which goes through town, which had a path and little gazebo.
2.) Describe the social life at your school - what did you like most about it?
Social life at Exeter mostly revolved around the dorms. After that, people made friends in sports and clubs, and some classes as well. For example, there were people who I had many classes with, and I became friends with them this way.

Daily Schedule:

8:00 AM
8:45 AM
First class
9:45 AM
Break or Assembly
10:45 AM
Second class
11:45 AM
Third Class
12:30 AM
1:45 PM
Fourth class
3:30 PM
Sports Practice
6:00 PM
7:00 PM
Club Meeting
9:30 AM
12:00 AM
Sports Game/Event
4:00 PM
6:00 PM
8:00 PM
Campus event
10:00 PM
Hang out in dorm
Read more details about Phillips Exeter Academy on their 2024 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 2017
5.00 5/27/2020
Williams College
The use of the Harkness table. The discussion based, or flipped, classroom is what truly separates Exeter from all other private schools. . .
Phillips Exeter Academy Alumni #3
Class of 2012
5.00 5/21/2020
Sewanee: The University of the South
The Harkness table is used in all classrooms, facilitating discussion and exploration of subjects that allow students to take the reins on their own education. With classes averaging 12 students or fewer, every student is. . .
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Quick Stats (2024)

  • Enrollment: 1,078 students
  • Yearly Tuition (Boarding Students): $64,789
  • Yearly Tuition (Day Students): $50,604
  • Acceptance rate: 17%
  • Average class size: 12 students
  • Application Deadline: Jan. 15
  • Source: Verified school update