Middlesex, Brooks or Lawrence Academy

Trying to help my son select the best high school for him. He has narrowed his choices down to Middlesex, Brooks and Lawrence Academy. He is a shy kid that enjoys school and also plays several sports. We are still unsure if he should board or enroll as a day student. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

I would for sure go with Brooks or Middlesex both are great schools that have an open amount of people and people who will guide you in the right path and both are good at sports especially Brooks. If he enjoys school he will love Middlesex if he likes both then Id say Brooks.

Lawrence. (Only to balance @sportsguy15 's post.)

I thought they usually accepted you as either a boarding student or a day student. Are you in the process of applying?!

If your kid have been accepted by all 3, then CONGRATULATIONS! :confetti_ball:
All 3 are wonderful schools. Consider which one will be the best fit for your family. Even if all revisits are virtual, try doing drive-by visits to the area to get more of an impression of the campus setting (and the logistics of a potential commute as a day student).

Lawrence is a good school I’m not knocking it but I would rather have my kid go to Middlesex or Brooks. Congrats to your kid on getting into all three.

Those three schools are very different. Has your son not been able to visit any of them?

Middlesex definitely is the most choosy, Brooks next, and Lawrence Academy (pre Covid) had a 50% acceptance rate. That isn’t a lot of info (I know) - but just shy and plays sports isn’t a lot of information to base a recommendation on.

Does he have any kind of favorite out of the three?

I don’t love Lawrence Academy. I think it can be the right fit for a specific kid but in general, for a kid who was able to get into Middlesex, I would not recommend Lawrence.

Thank you for the feedback. From the schools he was accepted to he has narrowed it down to those three. He did apply as a day student because going into this process we never imagined letting him board. After doing the live came re-visit tours we are more open to the idea. I have checked with the schools about the possibility of switching and two out of the three have confirmed he would be able to.

Thank you again for the feedback.

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He is more of an intellectual kid but also plays multiple sports, but geared more for academics. Has more the desire to get into the best academic college he can versus playing a sport in college. Of the three I think he would choose Middlesex but my wife and I are leaning a little more towards Brooks as we are concerned that the intensity of the academics at Middlesex may be a lot for a young kid. That said, we feel that way strictly based on reviews we have read that call Middlesex an academic pressure cooker. I am pretty sure LA is out and he is down to Middlesex and Brooks both of which we toured and were impressive in their own way.

I think he would enjoy either place and feel like he would be up for the academic challenge at Middlesex but he is our oldest of four and we don’t really know what that challenge entails. He is obviously a good student and hard worker which is why he was accepted to all the schools but without having a better feel for what each entails it is very difficult to decide. I don’t want him in a situation where he can’t enjoy life and spends his entire time studying without being able to enjoy other things.
Also any feedback on boarding or day student?

I think you should let this worry go. There is no boarding school discussed on these forums where kids spend every minute studying with no time to enjoy other things. Who’d go to a school like that? No BS requires or fosters that behavior. There are some students who choose to make school a grind, but they’d be doing that no matter where they went, BS or LPS. It doesn’t sound like your son is one of them, so take this concern out of your mix.

That is great feedback, thank you.
Would you recommend one of those schools over the others?

Also any feedback on boarding as a true freshman?

Thank you for taking the time to offer us guidance.

We lived in North Andover for ten years, so I’m more familiar with Brooks and have nothing but good things to say about it. It’s a lovely rural campus with a tight community. Our neighbor’s three daughters all rowed there (one of them and her husband now live and teach at Kent). I also worked in Concord (and our son was born at Emerson hospital), a quintessential New England town with lots of U.S. and literary history. Due to its location near town, I’d choose Middlesex, but that’s based on my own aesthetics* which have nothing to do with what your son might be looking for. I don’t think he can go wrong with either choice.

@Atria can give you student insight to Middlesex. I’m hoping she’s still checking in.

*I’m known for thinking there’s not a bad choice among any of these schools and that most decisions are made on hair-splitting unless things like size and location are deal breakers for you, but you know those things before applying. If I were the student, I’d make my decision solely on how lovely I think each campus is. The prettier the campus, the higher I’d rank it. So, you might not want to ask me to help you decide. :wink:

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I would probably choose Middlesex. I don’t think it is so extreme academic wise that it will be bad for your son. Brooks is lovely but there are more students at Brooks who need to be taught how to write a paper or have it explained to them that when they don’t turn in assignments they get a zero. And I say that to illustrate the type of kid - there are just more Brooks kids not as far along the academic spectrum. Again, Brooks is lovely. But if your son is a smart, academic kid have him go to Middlesex.

Pandemic wise though I do think Brooks has done a better job than Middlesex, hopefully that will be an unnecessary data point by next fall. And by good job - good to me is having students and teachers in the classrooms.

Ahh, boarding vs day. I think I lean towards boarding. As the mom of two day students :wink:

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Hi @father161616,

I graduated from Middlesex last spring, and feel free to PM me if you have any questions :slight_smile:
As for the concerns you mentioned, I personally have never felt that Middlesex was a pressure cooker type of environment. Sure finals and certain assessment weeks were always rough, but that’s pretty much universal. Currently at college, I’m really missing the nice structured workload I used to have. I vividly remember a discussion with one of my best friends about how grateful we were for MX’s academic environment. We both had come from places where the public school district was very competitive and cutthroat. MX never made us feel like that, but listening to kids back home who were going through that school system (especially during college admissions season) really made us reflect on how grateful we were to be at MX. High school academics are going to be a bit of a culture shock for anyone, whichever school you go to, but I would not say MX is more so than any other prep school. I also feel like academically, you should consider what kind of programs are available, for MX programs like writing workshop were invaluable. Seriously, like if I had to choose just one thing to take from MX, it would be writing workshop.

You mentioned that you might consider switching from day to boarding, I’d say that’s certainly possible. I came in as a boarding student and switched in my last two years to being a day student (my family had moved closer to campus). I know of another kid who did the switch the other way around, switching to boarding from day. So yes, it’s more than possible.
You mentioned he plays multiple sports, well everyone plays a sport at MX (its a requirement, but the level you play at varies and as seniority increases, you can opt out to do alternative things) and it’s a really really great bonding opportunity. I was a very NON sporty person and I still liked the sports program and enjoyed the experience, which says a lot :wink: .

I don’t know much about Lawrence, and what I do know of Brooks is sort of influenced by some bad interactions through sports, so I can’t say much about either, but again if you have any questions about MX let me know! I loved my years at MX and wherever your DS ends up, he’s going to love it too :wink:


The best thing I got from high school and college was the ability to write. I’m retired now, but I spent 35 years seeking and grooming talent for high level technical jobs, and the ability to write and communicate was top on my list. I didn’t care if you had a PhD from MIT; if you couldn’t write well and communicate clearly, I passed on you. I interviewed every English major who came across my desk. My company could teach you (most of) the technical stuff; we couldn’t teach you to write and communicate well.

Middlesex it is then. Thanks for weighing in, @Atria. I wish you all the best in college and beyond. Thanks for coming back as often as you have to give back.


Thank you for the very informative feedback you offered. This will be helpful in the decision making process. I also agree that the ability to write well is incredibly important and essential to ones success. MX has the incredible writing workshop that you mentioned and that does set them apart in some ways.

Thanks again for your feedback and offer to PM


Thank you.
Middlesex is such a beautiful campus I think anyone would choose it if that was the deciding factor. I can see why the decision is difficult for many students, as the options in this area are so great.
Just trying to find the healthiest balance for him while also offering him the best possible education we can. There is also a good chance his three younger siblings will follow his lead when choosing a HS so long as they are lucky enough to be accepted.

Thank you

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Congrats! What grade will your son be in?

He is in 8th grade now and selecting a school for freshman year.

Regarding the writing workshop at MX. I sat in the writing workshop during revisit day and LEARNED SO MUCH!! Things I knew in my gut were right - I finally understood why they were right and better. It is a truly amazing program.