Deerfield or Exeter

Hi. I got into Deerfield and Phillips Exeter and was wondering if anybody could give me some insight into which school is better in what ways.

Hi @StudentAthlete6 -

We know a bit @ Exeter from several friends who have recently attended and from our visit impressions. First off, have you had a chance to actually been on campus at either school?

  1. The schools are totally different in size. Exeter seemed more like a college campus in a small town. Larger student body. Larger dorms - more students per dorm. Larger buildings and larger campus.

1A. My kid would say that both schools are “grinds”, but Deerfield is a “grind” with more fun and friendliness. A different type of community (not making judgements). At Deerfield there is an approach to building a community that is built in through a) Seated Meals, b) All Freshman living in the same dorm, b) All Sophomores being in their respective dorms, and class-building activities.
The seated meals (you are assigned a table) provide an opportunity for students to get to know each other - there is less clique-up at meals this way because you are seated with kids from various class years and also with a faculty member. Deerfield students like the sit-downs. On Sunday, they have a really good dinner and sing Evensong together. It’s a bonding thing.

  1. Exeter is within walking distance to shops, a movie theatre, places to eat, a town. Deerfield is a historic campus within a living historic village that is also a museum. It has been a movie set and looks like one. A Main Street lined with colonial and federal-period houses. Deerfield has the iconic Deerfield Inn - a small hotel with tavern-restaurant. Students eat there and get take-out. It’s great for parents because it’s basically on campus. The only off-campus places within walking distance are the candy shop and the sugar house. The bus takes kids into Greenfield on Friday afternoons for shopping and McDonalds. Some kids take Uber or taxi’s into Amherst or Hadley for Chipotle, Starbucks, Asian cuisine, Target, Whole Foods and first run movies.
  2. Cultural differences. Our impression is that Exeter is more diverse and more politically progressive. This is based not only on kids we know there, but also based on reading the Exonian - also discussions in recent years on CC. The students at Deerfield are more traditional, even though there is diversity and an impressive global representation among the students.
  3. Deerfield students are high achievers in the classroom AND in athletics. My impression is that both schools are serious about sports. It’s not unusual to find 3 Varsity sport athletes at Deerfield. Because it is a smaller school and there isn’t a town to walk to, students show up to games and get into supporting the teams in a big way. A big hang out place for students is the athletic center - all year long - the new athletic center can be seen on YouTube videos if you have not seen it in person.
  4. Class size. Deerfield classes generally max out at 15 per classroom. Most of kiddo’s classes have @ 7 - 10 students. Math has 6 students this year. Science has 15 this year.
  5. Freshman class size. The Freshman class at Deerfield is smaller. They have about 50 girls and 56 boys. You will know everyone in your grade.
  6. Dress & Formality: This year, the dress code changed. Boys and Girls have to wear a blazer to classes during Fall and Spring terms. Winter term is casual. Most students dress conservatively. You don’t see blue hair or multiple piercings at Deerfield - at least yet.
  7. Competitiveness. Both schools have competitive students. My impression of Deerfield is that students are competitive in different ways - maybe less obvious . Everything is a competition at Deerfield - just being hard core honest: How smart you are, how you dress, what you look like, who you hang out with, how well you play a sport or how well you perform, how talented you are, how “chill” you are, etc. They are more subtle about competitiveness in class - perhaps more polite and less vocally cynical to your face. Not saying this is better - just more subtle.
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