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Berkshire or Hotchkiss?

sloth317sloth317 1 replies1 threads New Member
My daughter needs to make her choice by tomorrow and we are very conflicted!
Any advice would be welcome.
She is a wonderful student but doesn't necessarily thrive under pressure. We are worried the academics at Hkiss might be overly stressful and lower her confidence. On the other hand Berkshire seems like a more well-rounded school where she would have the time and freedom to be herself more.
Any thoughts from anyone that knows both schools??
12 replies
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Replies to: Berkshire or Hotchkiss?

  • cinnamon1212cinnamon1212 1088 replies9 threads Senior Member
    Both great schools! I suspect the top 25% at Berkshire feel as much pressure as kids at Hotchkiss, but this is just a guess on my part. I'm familiar with Hotchkiss, and know Berkshire only from the outside, so my thoughts are Hotchkiss-centric for that reason.

    You really can't made a bad decision; on the one hand, Hotchkiss feels your daughter can handle the academics, that's why they admitted her. They usually get this right, if that gives you/her some confidence.

    In my opinion the single thing that determines how well/how stressed a kid is, is TIME MANAGEMENT. If your daughter is good at it, the academics will not be a problem. If it is a struggle/she procrastinates on big projects until the night before, it might be a problem.

    Also, if she is tightly wound, and melts down over an A-. If she is, she will be stressed at Hotchkiss. If she can take it in stride; or vow to work harder/ask the teacher for help she will be fine. There are a lot of supports for kids (at both schools).

    You are welcome to PM me if you have other questions you don't want to ask on the board.
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  • sloth317sloth317 1 replies1 threads New Member
    Thank you for your response!

    Thankfully she's not one to melt down over grades, although I have warned her that the initial adjustment to BS and being surrounded by kids who were all superstars at their previous schools will be quite eyeopening. She's working on the time management and I agree 100% that being organized with your work is half the battle.

    I think in the end I am more worried about her spirit. I got the feeling Berkshire was a happy place where the kids had time for academics, sports, socializing and anything else that they were interested in. My daughter could find an area to stand out. Hkiss on the other hand seemed to focus on work and sports with very little time left for anything else. Our tour guide couldn't name but a few random things she ever did "for fun." I worry my daughter would lose some of the best parts of her? She loves to play sports, sing, dance, braid hair, paint nails, twirl around and generally enjoys life. She's not super competitive or cut throat.

    We've asked for advice from others and the concensus seems to be she should attend the most selective school she was accepted to and get the "best" education possible, but after reading so many of these threads and thinking about " best fit" I just don't know how to know. How do typical, well rounded, happy go-lucky 14yr old girls do at Hkiss?
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  • PublisherPublisher 11184 replies146 threads Senior Member
    Simple truth: Busy students tend to stay out of trouble.
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  • cinnamon1212cinnamon1212 1088 replies9 threads Senior Member
    @sloth317 it really depends on the kid. That said, Hotchkiss is *absolutely* a happy place!! Both my sons had great experiences although they were completely different (see -- it depends on the kid!). My first son was not good at time management, and he was a social butterfly. Academics, his sport, his social life and the one club he was really interested in were what he could manage. He tried debate and did not have the bandwidth to miss several days of school. So although he didn't "do" a lot, now, at 25, he credits Hotchkiss with making him who he is today and he still adores the school.

    My other son who currently attends, who excels at time management, squeezes in a tremendous amount. This past term he did a Hotchkiss sport, had a major role in the school play, played club soccer outside of school, was a dorm leader and had a very vibrant social life while maintaining excellent grades.

    I would say that both boys are kind of at each end of the spectrum in terms of what they could manage at the school, but both had fantastic experiences and wouldn't change a thing.

    The other students at Hotchkiss are NICE :-) and not cut throat! It is a supportive place. However it is also a place where if you need help you need to advocate for yourself -- ask the teacher for extra help or to explain something, attend a peer tutoring session in the learning center etc.

    If this helps, someone else on CC was asking about Hotchkiss and I asked son #2 how much homework there was. He said there was (on average) 2 hours a night in 9th grade, 2 1/2 hours in 10th grade and 2 hours 45 min. in 11th grade. Now, that is manageable isn't it? And my son isn't some phenom that can coast through classes. They build in a structure so as you must know there is required study hall in 9th and 10th grade from 8 - 10 pm and then -- hopefully with good habits practiced for 2 years -- they don't have required study hall after that.

    A third son of mine went to a different boarding school, not too different from Berkshire. While I can't speak to Berkshire, compared to that other school, Hotchkiss is just a level above -- the kids are sharper and more engaged, the teachers as a rule are better, the opportunities are more, more impressive speakers come to campus, more frequently, travel opportunities are more plentiful and there are grants for ALL students to travel, the college placement is better. (Having said all that, the second school was the best place for my son who needed a slower start) I guess I'm saying each school can be a great place, but it really just depends on the kid.

    PS Publisher is right -- the schools (ALL the schools) want to keep the kids busy -- it *does* keep them out of trouble.
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  • cinnamon1212cinnamon1212 1088 replies9 threads Senior Member
    Paging other Hotchkiss parents @Temperantia @Mumof3Boyz (I would page Berkshire parents too, but I don't know of any on CC)
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  • buuzn03buuzn03 1849 replies16 threads Senior Member
    edited April 10
    @cameo43 could give you some insight on Berkshire, although it’s been a while since I’ve seen her on the forum.

    I would trust your gut as to where you and your DD feel they would be most at home no matter what the circumstances, whether she be sick, hurt, celebrating, sad, etc.

    The academics at both schools are very strong. I think you are comparing apples to apples there. Just because one school may have a lower acceptance rate does not make the academics better or stronger. There are many very selective “ranked” schools that have lower SAT scores than other lesser known schools.

    Where do you have the least concerns of her being able to thrive? In my mind these are very different schools in a lot of ways (other than strength of education IMO) so hopefully it makes the choice much easier.

    Good luck!
    edited April 10
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  • gardenstategalgardenstategal 6585 replies10 threads Senior Member
    Reading between the lines, it sounds like you think Berkshire is the better fit but you think Hotchkiss may be the "better" school. Trust your gut on this and do what's right for your D.

    She will get a great education at either. Her college options will be the same. She may feel less pressured at Berkshire, even if she works just as hard. This is one of those cases where you need to bring what you know aboutyour D (and the admissions folks may not) to the table.
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  • buuzn03buuzn03 1849 replies16 threads Senior Member
    @gardenstategal agree completely with your statement but I didn’t have the guts to say it, especially since I know Hotchkiss isn’t the fit for my DD. I was worried my personal bias was playing a role in how I perceived OPs posts.
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  • JSGNDLHJSGNDLH 7 replies0 threads New Member
    @sloth317 - I am not aware much about Berkshire, but can share personal perspective about Hotchkiss. My daughter is currently a prep at the school.

    When she joined Hotchkiss, the first few weeks were settling-in period for her; especially her time management skills were average and this was her first time living on her own. Slowly she figured it out with help of her advisor, dorm proctors and other seniors in school. After that, she has done extremely well. During last few months, she has been actively involved in several extra-curricular activities (performing arts, sports and clubs), while maintain very good grades. We strongly believe that she is genuinely enjoying her time at the school, and that shows in her confidence.

    Regarding academics, here are a few comments. Besides Math and Language (where one is placed at the appropriate level, based on the placement test), the other subjects are English, Physics, Theater and Global Thinking. Although my daughter is more of a STEM person and she is getting excellent education in her areas of interest, but she has really enjoyed exposure to Humanities curriculum, which is one of the key strengths of Hotchkiss. The well-rounded academic experience has been very valuable to her. In particular, she has enjoyed how the humanities classes are conducted and what she learns in those classes. Let me share an example. In 'Global Thinking' where they cover religion and philosophy, which provides an enriching perspective about the world (from viewpoint of different philosophers). Here is a typical assignment in this class: “You have read Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, Descartes’ Meditation on First Philosophy, and Nozick’s Experience Machine, and we watched most of the Matrix in class. For this assignment, you must address these 2 questions. Your paper should be no more than 600 words. Compare and contrast The Matrix with the readings from Plato and Descartes. What are some similarities and differences?

    The academic pressure at Hotchkiss would be as much as at any other equally good school. Academics are rigorous, but there is enough support. The faculty is available during the evening and weekend to help out, as and when needed. This has been very useful for our daughter.

    In regards to your query about “being happy”….The kids at Hotchkiss are very happy, and it goes back to a couple of comments I have made in other posts about the culture which Mr Bradley is pushing for. I distinctly remember he mentioned during the Revisit Day that he was interested in the Head of School position at the school (four years ago), because in one of his prior visits to the school he felt students were genuinely happy. He has built on that culture, and you can see the impact. Our daughter finds the environment to be non-competitive. The kids care for each other and build strong bonds in classes, in dorms, and on field, and are happy for each other’s success. For example, in an audition, my daughter ‘lost’ a role in a theatre play to another prep. In her middle school, she would have shown element of jealousy and would have been vocal about having lost the role. But to our pleasant surprise, she shared with us that she was happy for her friend and that she will try for the role in next term.

    We have seen our daughter blossom during her prep year. She has improved her softer skills (empathy, time management, leadership, team member), besides doing well in academics and getting amazing EC opportunities. We feel we made an excellent decision in having our daughter join Hotchkiss.

    Hope this helps! Good luck
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  • JSGNDLHJSGNDLH 7 replies0 threads New Member
    If you have any follow-up questions, please let me know. You are also welcome to PM me if you wish.
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  • CaliMexCaliMex 2247 replies35 threads Senior Member
    Berkshire kids seem quite happy. We sensed it as well.

    Not that it matters, but the campus was incredibly well maintained compared to other schools, too.
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  • gardenstategalgardenstategal 6585 replies10 threads Senior Member
    @sloth317 , what did you decide?
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