Phillips Exeter Academy - Review #18

Read more details about Phillips Exeter Academy on their 2023-24 profile page.
Phillips Exeter Academy

About the Author:

Years Attended Boarding School:
Sports and Activities:
Varsity cycling team, ESSO, symphony orchestra
College Enrolled:
Sewanee: The University of the South
Home Town, State:
Stratham, NH

Reflections and Advice:

1.) What do you think makes your school unique relative to other boarding schools?
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 allowed the opportunity to speak up and contribute their unique perspective.
2.) What was the best thing that happened to you in boarding school?
I thought I was rather unremarkable while at Exeter. I was surrounded by truly some of the brightest minds in the world. But Exeter taught me how to fail, how to do so gracefully, and how to learn from failure. I learned to take risks and to speak up- I really found my voice at the Harkness table. I learned that I would rather be the dumbest person in the room so long as I am able to learn from everyone around me, and the confidence I have as a working professional today certainly stems from all the lessons and experience I had in and out of the classroom at Exeter.
3.) What might you have done differently during your boarding school experience?
I would have not tried to take all the hardest classes available to preps. I also wish I had known how to ask for help without feeling ashamed.
4.) What did you like most about your school?
The friendships I made and the teachers I was fortunate to learn from made Exeter an unforgettable experience. There were many sleepless nights and many failing grades and many mental breakdowns, and the pressure is a lot for any teenager to handle, but learning how to handle the pressure and the struggles in life set me up so well that nothing has ever felt as challenging since.
5.) Do you have any final words of wisdom for visiting or incoming students to your school?
Exeter bars at the dining hall; chocolate croissants warmed up at Grill; and the top floor of the library when it's unlocked.


1.) Describe the academics at your school - what did you like most about it?
The course book guide was as long if not longer than my course options in college. The education available at Exeter is so vast and so well-rounded. I took everything from printmaking to astronomy to early Asian history; the majority of your graduation requirements are able to be completed through electives within that subject.The environment itself was, at the time, not the healthiest. Cut throat competition amongst peers, and an unusual competitive approach to laziness ("I only studied for 2 hours for that test and still got a B!!" "oh I didn't get the chance to study because I was up all night writing a paper but I got A")


1.) Describe the athletics at your school - what did you like most about it?
In your first two years there is mandatory participation in athletics of some sort, be it a team or a club sport, each term. In your last two years you are able to select one term each year to "opt out" of sports. The quality of the facilities is impressive, and they've made a substantial investment in updating some older facilities in recent years.

Art, Music, and Theatre:

1.) Describe the arts program at your school - what did you like most about it?
From theatre to dance to musical ensembles, there is something for everyone who wants to explore the arts.

Extracurricular Opportunities:

1.) Describe the extracurriculars offered at your school - what did you like most about it?
If you can think it, it either does or can exist at Exeter. With over 100 clubs to choose from, you're likely to find something in which to involve yourself that ignites passion. And if not, the process to start a club is fairly simple.

Dorm Life:

1.) Describe the dorm life in your school - what did you like most about it?
I was a day student, though I enjoyed being able to stay over in friends dorm rooms with relative ease on weekends and if there was a predicted snow storm (since at the time, snow days were unheard of at Exeter).


1.) Describe the dining arrangements at your school.
With two dining halls, salad bars and pasta bars as a daily staple, and a wide range of food in the mainline served with various ethnic origins, the food at Exeter is truly excellent. I haven't eaten so well since I left....

Social and Town Life:

1.) Describe the school's town and surrounding area.
Exeter is a cute, historic New England town, and the downtown strip with shops and restaurants is a short walk from campus. The cycling team would also do sunrise bike rides to the beach which is about 8 miles away from campus.
2.) Describe the social life at your school - what did you like most about it?
With classes from 8am-6pm, and free time scheduled in the middle of the day, and activities going on every night until check-in, there was always someone somewhere to hang out with. From throwing frisbees in the quad, to eating endless chocolate croissants in Grill, I have so many fond memories of the little moments with friends and classmates.
Read more details about Phillips Exeter Academy on their 2023-24 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 2020
5.00 4/27/2020
Harvard College
The Harkness method is one of Exeter's unique and best aspects. Teachers have very little involvement in class — homework is either reading or problem based, and nearly every class, from Math to English. . .
Phillips Exeter Academy Alumni #3
Class of 2019
5.00 1/14/2020
Colorado College
Exeter is the founding place of the Harkness method, in which students gather around a round table to discuss their homework and class material as a group. The idea of this method is that. . .
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Quick Stats (2023-24)

  • Enrollment: 1,080 students
  • Yearly Tuition (Boarding Students): $61,121
  • Yearly Tuition (Day Students): $47,739
  • Acceptance rate: 10%
  • Average class size: 12 students
  • Application Deadline: Jan. 15
  • Source: Verified school update