Looking for school recs

hi again!
i’m having a bit of trouble finding schools right now, so it would be great if i could get some recommendations from the more experienced people here.
in a boarding school, i am looking for an intimate and tight-knit experience, with a more “progressive” education. my current top schools are putney, thacher, cate, and buxton, for context.
i’m interested in a good outdoor program, and i am also a swimmer, so a team or a pool would be a plus.
i am currently trying to find more safe-ish schools because most of my top choices are reaches, but i’m having a bit of trouble finding schools with higher acceptance rates, as well as adequate financial aid opportunities (the most my parents can pay is around 13-15k). but i’d love recommendations for schools with any acceptance rate!
thank you!

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Cambridge School of Weston seems to check the boxes.

Take a look at George School. Progressive community, excellent academics (IB but other paths as well), beautiful pool, swim team (as well as a club team that uses the facilities which serious swimmers can join to train/compete all year), excellent FA. Not sure if it would meet your outdoors requirement – the campus is lovely and there are lots of weekend outdoors activities – but it’s not like Putney in terms of location. Not as selective as many.

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In addition to the replies you receive here, please take a look at the following thread that has lots of great information on many lesser known schools. It may take a while to read through it, but it’s worth it.


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I think NMH would be a good fit as well. They have a farm program that looks really cool as well as an up-and-coming swim program that races against the best competition in the Northeast. I remember the coach being really nice and informative during the process and although I didn’t end up attending there, I’m confident I would’ve had a fantastic experience had I gone.

Their admissions are “rolling” in some regard, but if you apply by their priority deadline you get full consideration for financial aid, and the package they gave us was considerably more generous than expected.

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The Cambridge School of Weston’s pool is outdoors, so students don’t use it much.

I don’t know that Putney has a pool either. Lots of snowshoeing available, though!

Mercersburg: not sure how progressive, but everything else fits. They offer a lot of FA too.

They have a great outdoor program.

…and a new aquatics facility.

I always suggest that newcomers look at boardingschoolreview.com and put your “must-haves” into the search engine on the advanced search tool. This will provide you with a preliminary list to go through and see what you like/dislike about each school that matches your criteria.

Then, come to this forum, ask questions and see what you learn about the “feel” or “community” of the school from those that have first-hand experience. There are a lot of schools, too, you may find that even the users here have not heard of, but then you can provide others with “new” avenues to explore.

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I recommend Hotchkiss! My input might be a little bit biased since I’ll be attending there next year, but it seems to fit all of your boxes excluding being a safety. We have amazing gym equipment; including an indoor pool and a HUGE lake that we’re able to swim in! Also, it’s such a small school with only 600 students, but it has the academic feeling of a huge bs. Also, we got an amazing Financial Aid offer here, so if you do get accepted then there’s a 99% chance you will be able to go. I definitely recommend researching it, and if you have any questions you can ask me!!

Every time we raced at Hotchkiss I was so jealous of the facilities! It’s also one of the three schools that rotate to host NEPSAC swimming champs, so if you (OP) were to go there, you’ll have one year where you get to race your champs in front of your whole school.

If I could have gone back and done the process again, I think I might’ve chosen Hotchkiss. I was going to recommend it to OP, but as you said, it’s really a reach school for anyone. You’ll never know unless you apply though–except I recall their application being kinda long haha!