It’s almost November and I haven’t seen this thread yet, so I thought I’d start it (with the blessing of skieurope). We are currently in the midst of applications/essay writing/interviews/etc. with both BS and day schools. Happy to know we are not alone!
As the DS looks for the ‘perfect fit’ school, he is wanting kinder and gentler. After visiting and interviewing several schools, he’s feeling that Choate may be the best fit. He seems to have all the credentials for top schools (we’ve been told), but he is going to cast a wide net for sure.
I’m wondering, did anyone else get that impression from their Choate interactions? Any other kinder and gentler BS out there? TIA!
George is always touted as a “culture of kindness” place. It’s in Newtown, PA. If you’re in NYC, the distance is consistent with which you are considering. If you are in Boston, though, it’s definitely further.
My daughter is also applying for 9th grade. One of her top things was “nice teachers and students”. We actually didn’t look at Choate as she is looking for a smaller school (around 300-400 students).
As overseas parents, we limited her to New England and a couple of NY schools so she could easily get to grandparents and other family if needed. After tours and research, our daughter has decided to apply to:
She has the SSAT next Saturday and her first interviews the week after! Essays are slowly starting to come together, but it’s a super busy time of year at her school and for her sport, so after the first week of November she should have a lot more free time to work on those. Right now she just has outlines written.
Pretty much any school in the Hidden Gems thread is kinder and gentler.
I keep on thinking of the “Preppies Gone Wayward” list in The Official Preppy Handbook, but that’s a bit more out there than merely kinder and gentler. Or at least, comparing notes among people who went to some of those schools in the 80s… Because we seem to all end up in the same dorms in college, and then as parents end up in the same play groups - sort of self perpetuating.
Choate would not be on my “kinder and gentler” list. I don’t have first hand experience, but we did look at it for kiddo1 and did not look at it for kiddo2. It’s a great school, with a lot of opportunity, but I think academics are quite intense, and the kids are expected to hit the ground running.
For kiddo2, our main focus was “kinder and gentler”. Schools we included in our initial search: Berkshire, St. George’s, Brooks, Westminster, Tabor, St Marks, NMH, St Andrews, Millbrook, George, Mercersburg.
Our son graduated from Choate in 2015. As @cityran noted, the curriculum is strong and students need to know how to advocate for themselves. However, those two attributes are not what makes a school “kinder and gentler” or not. Choate students are collaborative, the faculty is caring, help is always available, and the general culture very inclusive. We parents were treated with respect, and communication from the school was constant and relevant.
Our son would tell you that the kindness he found there, especially from his teammates, and the deep friendships he formed are what he cherishes most to this day. (One of his Choate crewmates will be the best man at his wedding next year.) Though his four years at Choate were characterized by hard work and play, the environment in which he did so was very supportive and caring.
Perhaps one of our recent Choate grads, @CavsFan2003, could provide more recent insight if he’s still checking in.
I guess a lot depends on what “kinder and gentler” means to the OP. Kiddo1 would say the same thing about her experience at her current school. She has incredible friends and supportive teachers and she loves her experience. The kids are collaborative and they are each others best cheerleaders. I would not, however, put her school on the “kinder and gentler” list. There is an inherit pressure among students and despite recent steps to make the school a “happier” place, it still lacks balance. Kiddo2 called home last night crying because of a bad grade on a math test, for fear that it will ruin her chances at an Ivy (pressure that comes from peers, not from home). Fortunately, this morning after consultation with her math teacher, she was in much better spirits.
Schools that prioritize a balanced student life and offer a bit more hand holding for new students made our “kinder and gentler” list for kiddo2 (and as is reflected by the list above). Both of our kids are having very different experiences and yet both are extremely happy. But if I could turn down the pressure a little at Kiddo1’s school, I’d do it in a heartbeat.
Thanks, everyone! I think it was mentioned earlier about some BS grading is way more difficult than day schools? Wow. To add to this, I just heard that the National Merit qualifying scores for ALL boarding schools is always the highest score, like 224, and the student’s score does not apply to the school’s state or the kid’s state. Yikes! This can’t be the case… can it? Thanks again!!
Kids at US boarding schools will have to meet the highest state cutoff in their region. So if you attend a boarding school in Colorado, you will have a different cutoff than someone attending a boarding school in MA.
Compass Prep is the gold standard for information and analysis on National Merit in case you want to look at years of data and learn some more! This is from their website:
“The net effect is that the cutoffs for the District of Columbia and students studying abroad are always set at the level of the highest state cutoff. The cutoff for U.S. Territories is set at the Commended Student level (as it is with some states). The cutoff for a boarding school is set at the highest state cutoff within the boarding school’s region.”
And from the National Merit guide itself:
“U.S. boarding schools that enroll a sizable proportion of their students from outside the state in which the school is located. Boarding schools are grouped into geographic re- gions, each consisting of several states; the Semifinalist qualifying score for students in each region is the same as the highest qualify- ing score among the states within that region.”
So, if I’m understanding this correctly, a BS on the west coast is subject to the highest score on the west coast which would be 220 (if Ca WA and OR are grouped together) as an example… I guess the question becomes what are the BS regions? Is there a list somewhere? Or are the BS kids lumped in with the study abroad kids (223)? Anyone know?
No - the US citizens abroad (as well as kids in DC, I believe) are held to the highest cutoff, but the boarding school kids are held to the highest cutoff in their region. It could be the same if the highest cutoff in that boarding school’s region is the same as the highest cutoff nationwide, but it doesn’t have to be.
In all seriousness though, is this a recruiting point? Not to mention premature? Regardless, for the vast majority of the schools discussed here, the states with the highest scores in the respective region are CA, MA, and NJ. What’s left to know?
Daughter got her first reply from a school’s XC coach today after sending intro emails this weekend! She was excited and the coach said her times are “impressive” and to keep in touch after she submits her application as the coach wants to follow her through the process. Doesn’t sound like she is being recruited by any means, but at least her name is out there.
She also heard from another school’s athletic director (she did not reach out to this person - they initiated contact) that she is on their radar and they are very excited to have her apply, which sounds much more like they are keen on potentially having her on their team. It’s the middle of the season right now, so we weren’t expecting to hear right away, so the email from the first coach was a nice surprise.
Anyone have insight into the process and if we should hope that because either a coach or an athletic director wants to be in touch that they might somehow indicate to admissions that she is a candidate they’re interested in?