Phillips Exeter Academy - Review #15

Read more details about Phillips Exeter Academy on their 2019-20 profile page.
Phillips Exeter Academy

About the Author:

College EnrolledCornell University
Home Town, State Hong Kong
Years Attended Boarding School3
Activities During Boarding SchoolGirls Swimming. West African Drumming Ensemble. Hong Kong Student Association. Anime Exeter. Ongaku Club. Piano.

Reflections and Advice:

1.) What do you think makes your school unique relative to other boarding schools?
Definitely its renowned Harkness discussion. The principal is based off the idea that the students are of such a high intellect that they are able to teach each other, and thus the teacher of the class simply acts as a moderator for the brilliant discussion which occurs. I miss this teaching style a lot (we don't have this in big colleges like Cornell, unfortunately.) What I like best about it is that when it comes to exams etc, you don't have to study much to do well because all the material is already embedded in your memory through your active participation in the discussion. (Discussion participations are graded for some classes.)
2.) What was the best thing that happened to you in boarding school?
I think I really have learnt to be independent at Exeter. I was a highly unorganized person who did absolutely no work back home. (I have no idea why they even accepted me in the first place.) At Exeter, people were motivated and insightful. I've met some of the most amazing people there (e.g. grand-daughter of I.M. Pei, the world's renowned architect) and they have taught me a great deal. Even now I keep in touch with all these people. Sometimes connections you made at Exeter can be very helpful during your college years and possibly even during your career years.
3.) What might you have done differently during your boarding school experience?
Branch out more. I always thought I didn't branch out enough my 1st week, or I could have met even more amazing people. Also, really plan out what courses you are gonna take each semester. Skip up a level if you think the class bores you.
4.) What did you like most about your school?
Exeter really prepared me well for college. A lot of people say Cornell is much harder than Harvard and Yale academically because we do not have grade-inflation (this is true). However, being at Exeter taught me time-management skills and how to balance your social life with academics greatly. It is a myth that you can only have 2S out of the 3S (Sleep, Social, Study) in college, but with the preparation of Exeter, it is not true at all. I still got a 4.0 at Cornell my first semester without having to bury myself in books or kill myself with sleepless nights. Give me one hundred more times to choose, I would still choose to go to Exeter.
5.) Do you have any final words of wisdom for visiting or incoming students to your school?
Best Girls Dorm: Hoyt (Hoyt has probably the most lenient check in times) or Amen (Amen has real good facilities).Get to know your dorm faculties. It is always good to get to know adults at Exeter. They could be of great help if you need a ride etc.


1.) Describe the academics at your school - what did you like most about it?
I love it that you get to know the professors really well. This is perhaps due to the small size of the class (roughly 13 people). This is really great because when it comes to the College Application Process, you have absolutely NO trouble finding teachers' recommendation letters. Also, the College Counseling Program is great. I got into ALL of my college choices with their help.


1.) Describe the athletics at your school - what did you like most about it?
I wasn't exactly competitively athletic at Exeter, considering the fact that I only swam on a team.However, we have amazing athletic facilities. The newly-built squash court (very nice, with computer-sensors on the walls) is one of the many facilities that I often used. We have nice pools and hockey/ football/ soccer fields. Frisbee is also big on campus.

Art, Music, and Theatre:

1.) Describe the arts program at your school - what did you like most about it?
The music building has pianos that are free for all students. (In college you have to pay if you want to play.) We have great musicians and anyone is allowed to have "recitals" that would be open to the public. You can virtually learn anything as long as you are willing to pay for it. Exeter will find you an instructor.

Extracurricular Opportunities:

1.) Describe the extracurriculars offered at your school - what did you like most about it?
There are so many I don't know where to start. From "Students for a free Tibet" to "Anime Exeter", you can almost find a club about everything. If there isn't a club of your interest yet, you can always start one. It's real easy and they give you funding.

Dorm Life:

1.) Describe the dorm life in your school - what did you like most about it?
I LOVED my dorm. HOYT-pride woot woot!Dorms are single-sexed on campus, and each has its own reputation. (e.g. Wentworth was the jock's dorm and Amen was the dorm with pretty girls.) Check-ins are at 8 for Freshman and Sophomore (We call them Preps and Lowers). 9 for Juniors (or Uppers) and 10 for Seniors. On weekends it is 11 for everyone.It is possible to transfer between dorms if you do not like your room.


1.) Describe the dining arrangements at your school.
Exeter's AWARD WINNING dining service was not exactly great, but it was edible. I've been to places like NMH and Andover and it was a lot worse. I guess I'm just spoiled. Once in a while we have banquets (free) such as Jazz Brunch and we'd have loads of good food (free) like chocolate fondue etc. Seniors also get Lobster Dinner. There are no assigned seating.

Social and Town Life:

1.) Describe the school's town and surrounding area.
Exeter is a peaceful town. The downtown is really small so if you want serious shopping you should just go to Boston (1 hour away by train.) There is also FoxRun Mall, which is not too big but it has everyone a high school student would need. Exeter offers roundtrip bus ($3) to FoxRun every Saturday.
2.) Describe the social life at your school - what did you like most about it?
Because the school is small, you get to know people on an individual basis really well. Around dining-hall you will usually have no problem finding somebody to sit with (this is very different in college. You always have to call your friends and then meet up and go eat together, which is in my opinion very inefficient.)

Daily Schedule:

9:00 AMA Format Class
10:00 AMB Format Class
11:00 AMAssembly/ Break
12:00 PMLunch
1:00 PMBreak
2:00 PMD Format Class
3:00 PMSports
4:00 PMSports
5:00 PMF Format Class
6:00 PMDinner
12:00 AMBrunch
1:00 PMHang out playing frisbee etc
2:00 PMGym
3:00 PMHang out more at the swing outside Dunbar
4:00 PMGo around downtown, go to Dunkin Donuts etc
5:00 PMGo hang out at the church's basement or in people's room
6:00 PMDinner
7:00 PMGet Vs at boys' dorms (Vs= Visitations)
8:00 PMCheck in if you're a prep/ lower
9:00 PMMaybe do homework for monday or just hang out inside the dorm
Read more details about Phillips Exeter Academy on their 2019-20 profile page.

Alumni Reviews
  Review School

  • Review Description
  • Northwestern University
    Phillips Exeter Academy created a wonderful atmosphere to grow and develop as a human being rather than just as a student. Its use of the Harkness method encourages students to speak up and form nuanced. . .
  • Harvey Mudd College
    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. . .
  • Macalester College
    The Harkness method of education was founded at Phillips Exeter, so I think this makes Exeter special. Harkness a learning method based on discussion and exchange of ideas among students, with the instructor as a. . .
  • Show more reviews (19 reviews)
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