Deerfield Academy - Review #3

Read more details about Deerfield Academy on their 2020 profile page.
Deerfield Academy
5

About the Author:

Years Attended Boarding School: 2013-2017
Sports and Activities:Literary magazine, STEM magazine, community diversity and inclusion initiatives, visual arts.
College Enrolled:Columbia University
Home Town, State: Princeton, NJ, NJ

Reflections and Advice:

1.) What do you think makes your school unique relative to other boarding schools?
Deerfield’s location in the Pioneer Valley makes it an incredibly beautiful place to live, and opportunities abound for hiking, biking, swimming, and otherwise engaging with the surroundings. Because the school is tucked away from the town, the student body grows especially close as a result, since everyone is immersed in the same place, culture, and community.
2.) What was the best thing that happened to you in boarding school?
Deerfield is full of opportunity for those who want it. There were many avenues for funding, help to find summer internships, and other resources that were available to me once I asked, and that I had access to quickly since there was little bureaucracy and the school has a very large endowment. At boarding school, you share your life with the surrounding people. The connections I made with teachers and friends feel much deeper and longer-lasting because of this. Although the academics were challenging and often stressful, the school prepared me well for college, especially for seminar style discussions and meeting with teachers one on one at office hours.
3.) What might you have done differently during your boarding school experience?
Go in with an open mind to the people around you and try to get to know as many people as you can, regardless of how different their backgrounds may seem. Take care of yourself and ask for help from teachers when you need it- most are more than willing to assist.
4.) What did you like most about your school?
I am most grateful for my teachers and their passion, dedication, and generosity in and out of the classroom. I am also grateful for the small class sizes and Deerfield’s dedication to innovative learning, which allowed me to do molecular biology research, write policy briefs, argue Supreme Court cases on free speech, discuss Baldwin and Morrison with 10 other people, and engage with academics much more wholly than I imagine I would have at public school.
5.) Do you have any final words of wisdom for visiting or incoming students to your school?
Get a grilled cheese or grilled blueberry muffin at the Koch Cafe.

Academics:

1.) Describe the academics at your school - what did you like most about it?
The quality of teaching is unparalleled, especially at higher levels. My teachers were mostly highly experienced, had earned PhDs/MDs/JDs, and many had worked in the profession related to their teaching (law for history or in research for STEM). Unlike college, the teachers at Deerfield are evaluated for their ability to effectively engage and relay skills and knowledge to a high school audience, rather than on their individual research, so they actually wanted to be in the classroom. My teachers were challenging and demanding, and often asked students to reconsider their preconceptions, but were always kind and willing to meet with students outside of class, offer extra help, take feedback, or invite students into their homes. I grew close too many of my teachers and remain immensely grateful for how they pushed to see me grow and succeed, prepared me with tangible skills and confidence for college, and encouraged my curiosity and love of learning.

Athletics:

1.) Describe the athletics at your school - what did you like most about it?
There was a lot of school spirit around athletics, which brought most members of the community close together. Even for non-athletes, Deerfield has a variety of recreational or thirds-level sports teams to explore new things, form communities, and be active without too much commitment. Most people participate in a sport every term, but some get exemptions for art or music, theatre, community service, or individual projects. The new facility is beautiful, state-of-the art, and expansive.

Art, Music, and Theatre:

1.) Describe the arts program at your school - what did you like most about it?
The visual arts program was fantastic. There is plenty of studio space and near-unlimited resources. Under my teacher (who recently retired), the courses were tough and focused on developing tangible skills of observation, rendering, composition, etc. However, we also dedicated time and space to talking and thinking about the role of art in our hectic and divided lives. The teachers are very caring and helpful and the students in the program, most of whom were there for 4 years, grew incredibly close. Many students found a new love of art and went on to study it in college, but everyone left with a richer understanding of what art can do.

Extracurricular Opportunities:

1.) Describe the extracurriculars offered at your school - what did you like most about it?
There are many, many clubs available, and if there wasn’t one suited to your interest, it was easy to create a new club and get funding. Most clubs met infrequently or irregularly and changed frequently under new leadership. Older clubs or school-sponsored volunteer opportunities were more consistent. Students volunteered for the food pantry, soup kitchen, and local schools, and it was easy to get involved, though not a major point of emphasis for the school.

Dorm Life:

1.) Describe the dorm life in your school - what did you like most about it?
All freshmen are in doubles in one dorm, which brings most freshmen closer together as a class but can be isolating with regards to the rest of the school. Sophomore dorms are grade-specific and juniors/seniors are mixed. Upperclassmen dorms (non-freshmen) are overwhelmingly singles. Room size and quality varied by the dorm. Most halls met four feeds after check in 1-3 times a week which helped with hall bonding and provided free food and a refreshing respite from studies.

Dining:

1.) Describe the dining arrangements at your school.
Sit-down meals are a big part of the culture, so keep in mind that 5-7 of your weekly meals will be at an assigned time and table. The food was good- not a huge variety of options, but the dining hall took care to source food locally and with an eye towards sustainability, so much of the produce was organic. Dining hall hours were somewhat limited in fall/spring but other campus cafes are generally open, so it’s not hard to get food if you need it.

Social and Town Life:

1.) Describe the school's town and surrounding area.
The area is historic and bucolic, which made it beautiful to live in but frustrating if you wanted to get off campus, get groceries, or hang out away from the school. The river which runs through campus, is definitely a highlight in spring as students go there to swim and relax.
2.) Describe the social life at your school - what did you like most about it?
Everyone was friendly and polite, and because it was a small school, you got to know many people you wouldn’t have thought to talk to otherwise. Many people hang out in the cafes or study together. Most friends are made through clubs, sports, and dorms.
Read more details about Deerfield Academy on their 2020 profile page.

Alumni Reviews
  Review School

  • Review Description
  • Deerfield Academy Alumni #1
    Class of 2019
    5 Stars  
    Harvard University
    Deerfield is smaller than many other boarding schools in New England, leading to a very tight-knit community. Each student gets to know people in every grade level very well. The tradition of sit-down meals help. . .
  • Deerfield Academy Alumni #2
    Class of 2018
    5 Stars  
    Dickinson College
    Deerfield has a very student-centered learning environment that encourages students to learn to ask for help and use all the resources available to them. Deerfield also has “feeds,” when the hall associate on duty for a. . .
  • Deerfield Academy Alumni #3
    Class of 2017
    5 Stars  
    Columbia University
    Deerfield’s location in the Pioneer Valley makes it an incredibly beautiful place to live, and opportunities abound for hiking, biking, swimming, and otherwise engaging with the surroundings. Because the school is tucked away from the. . .
  • Show more reviews (10 reviews)
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