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Private High Schools With Great Humanities/Writing Programs

potterpointspotterpoints 33 replies12 threads Junior Member
I am currently in the process of deciding what schools I want to apply this fall and I was wondering if there are any particular schools known for humanities or writing? I know Andover has a great program but they're also extremely selective so I thought I'd ask some of the more experienced members in the prep schools community. Thanks for your help!
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Replies to: Private High Schools With Great Humanities/Writing Programs

  • StandardizedGirlStandardizedGirl 40 replies6 threads Junior Member
    edited July 2017
    @potterpoints Milton Academy has amazing humanities and writing programs - the spectacular English and History departments were what made me apply to Milton in the first place - although it is still an extreeemely selective school. Freshmen have an English Workshop class once a week that focuses solely on writing and grammar, and we use the Harkness method of teaching in all of our humanities classes. I'm pretty sure @trackelizabeth would be better at explaining how awesome Milton is though :D.

    I also heard that Concord, Deerfield, St. Paul's, and Lawrenceville are strong in humanities, though I can't provide much info about those.
    edited July 2017
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  • bumblebee1212bumblebee1212 41 replies5 threads Junior Member
    This was actually sort of a problem for me too, except I wanted to go into STEM :) I applied to 3 different schools, Groton, Exeter and Middlesex. Middlesex has a very in depth humanities program and they especially pride themselves for having many opportunities in writing. I ended up choosing to go there because writing is one of my weaknesses and I wanted to get better. But no matter where you choose to go (even if it's public high school) there will always be opportunities for you like school clubs and the internet where you can interact with people who can give you advice on your writing.

    I'm not really sure how the writing is at other prep schools, although I think that overall most prep schools are equal in terms of writing. Many of them were founded with a focus on humanities and then gradually began emphasizing on STEM as well, so I think most prep schools should have great humanities. Good luck, and I hope this helped :)
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  • potterpointspotterpoints 33 replies12 threads Junior Member
    @bumblebee1212 @StandardizedGirl Right now my list of schools consists of Exeter, Andover, Lawrenceville, St. Paul's, Peddie, and Kent. At this point I don't I should sweat the humanities thing because as @bumblebee1212 said, all these schools were founded with a focus on the humanities, and are nationally ranked. I was just curious if there was like a MIT equivalent to what I was looking for, but it wouldn't make sense to have really specialized high schools since that's when most people figure out what they like and what to do.
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  • PeriwinklePeriwinkle 3403 replies105 threads Senior Member
    Potterpoints, I would say that the majority of prep schools (boarding, day, parochial, independent) have strong writing/humanities programs. Private schools emphasize good writing, in my opinion.

    Some schools may have exceptional teachers in the fields of writing, History, English, Religious Studies, Humanities. If you are interested in such fields, it would be a good idea to think of questions you can ask your tour guide and interviewer.

    American schools sometimes participate in extracurricular activities in related fields, such as debate, Model U.N., the school newspaper. Be aware that there isn't one league for competitive activities in these fields. Sometimes a school will participate in the competitions that don't conflict with their internal schedule, but skip certain competitions that conflict with midterms, finals, or a required, school-wide activity.

    I would ask schools if they have alums who are active in related professions, such as lawyers, diplomats, advertising, novelists, screenwriters, etc.
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  • gungabluegungablue 109 replies0 threads Junior Member
    I haven't seen any prep school that truly excels in the humanities, partly because they treat all kids as if they have the same background, interests, and skills in these areas.. If a kid is advanced compared to age peers in science, or math, or foreign language, he or she can find a school that allows for appropriate level education. Kids may repeat a year of math, but a kid who has done calculus doesn't have to repeat starting with algebra. Unfortunately, this is not true in the humanities. I never found any boarding school that would allow appropriate acceleration in the humanities. This means that many boarding schools teach writing well or have good programs to teach close reading effectively, but if your child knows more than these basics going in and is ready for really advanced poetry or more complicated composition, the child doesn't get to learn much. At every school where this was discussed with us, it was said that all students take English 9 and then English 10, etc. If your child already took multiple college courses in English, or AP English, or APUSH, or college philosophy . . . . . then the child gets to take 9th grade English. One department head told us that my child was needed to elevate discussion and help others improve their level of English and insight and writing. Noble pursuits indeed, but sadly, this left someone lit up by ideas and words and literature and writing and thinking wondering when learning rather than teaching might get to happen -- apparently not in high school. My family learned, after multiple children in multiple boarding schools, that learning in the humanities happens for other kids. My children also learned to pursue STEM fields where they got to advance at their own pace. I realize this is not a popular viewpoint, but since you asked, humanities works well when you get to discuss ideas with others who contribute to your own understanding. If you never learn anything from others during class discussion and the "new" book you are reading through for the third time has less good discussion than the first two times you discussed it in a class, then humanities courses are a waste of time for you.

    @ potterpoints, if you find a school that offers MIT like equivalence in the humanities, please share!
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  • preppedparentpreppedparent 3341 replies10 threads Senior Member
    Choate has a great writing program including its signature Capstone program.
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  • gardenstategalgardenstategal 5931 replies10 threads Senior Member
    Many people think the IB program is more humanities/writing focused than STEM. If that appeals to you, there are prep schools - some day, some boarding - that offer that.

    My impression was that most BS have very good writing programs. You can look at some of their literary magazines to get a sense of what kinds of shorter works kids are focused on.

    I understand @gungablue 's point. At our school, though, there were definitely classes for those who wanted to write "above and beyond".. Those were the ones where you were asked to show up at the beginning of the year with your first x chapters written and ready for peer review. I suspect many schools have an equivalent.
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  • london203london203 1351 replies26 threads Senior Member
    Have a look at Portsmouth Abbey - very good Humanities program especially Sophomore year.
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