Need to choose two from L'ville, Hotchkiss, or SPS for DS 9th grade application in 2021

Looking for thoughts on schools. Our DS will head off to BS next year. Have been reading the threads again for a few days now and happy to note that so many senior members are still active, as well as a lot of new members. Thank you all!

To recap, our DD joined Choate in 2018 and we couldn’t be happier with her choice. She’s done really well and best of all, found a great group of close friends. She’s came home for Spring Break and has started fifth form online this week. As parents, we couldn’t have asked for more. Obviously hope DS has a similar exp :smile:

So Choate will be our first choice, no doubt. However, we need to apply to more schools as its not guaranteed that he will get in (even with sibling and strong acads, ECs and Tennis). So finally coming to the point of this thread :slight_smile: Among other top schools, we would like some guidance from you on picking two from L’vill, Hotchkiss and SPS.

From our perspective:
L’ville: Larger school, Strong acads, closer to city/ JFK, more day students - maybe weekends will be dull, big city influences, but closer to opportunities, Princeton
Hotchkiss: strong acads, in the boondocks - tougher access to JFK, tight-knit, great sports (DS is strong tennis)
SPS: Smaller, strong acads, tight-knit community 100% boarding, more supportive/collegial?

Appreciate your thoughts!

We have 5th and 3rd forms at Choate too. We went through the same process last fall - hoping for Choate, but needing to apply elsewhere, just in case. Our family found L’ville to be most similar to Choate. In fact, it was a hard decision for my son when he got into both. With so many similarities, the differences were the L’ville house system, the dress code and L’ville seemed to have a reputation for being tougher for some students. A big plus for L’ville is proximity to two major airports, so travel to/from L’ville would have been far better than the options in/out of BDL. Other positives for L’ville were a stunning campus, great surrounding area (including Princeton) and a golf course on campus.

We also loved Hotchkiss. The academics and sports are excellent (including the golf course). The rural setting is not for everyone, but it was a plus for our family. But that also results in the down sides of longer and more complicated travel to/from home and no real surrounding town.

We have friends who attended SPS and spoke extensively with the regional AO. Sounded like a wonderful option, but unfortunately no golf team. So it didn’t make out list.

Thanks @Altras and good to know another Choate parent! We would love for DS to get into Choate. He’s super interested in Robotics and they have a fantastic lab and team there. He remembers it in the Lanphy from our first tour in December 2017!

We had toured Hotchkiss at the time too, and it seemed really far away even then. But the campus, main building, and our tour guide really made up for it. Two years into the BS experience we’ve realized that access and proximity to a major intl. airport matters to us. DS uses the shuttle to JFK. On that count L’ville wins hands down.

We don’t miss four years of BDL and no direct flights on any airline to/from our home airport, but those things fade to obscurity compared to the education and experiences our son enjoyed at Choate. Over the years, I’ve come to believe that any child who is ready for the BS experience can enjoy, appreciate, and do well at most of the schools discussed on this forum and that there is no one “right” school. I think many people look too hard to find differences and then split hairs over things that, in the long run, are not meaningful or of lasting consequence. I’m sure our son would have been equally educated and equally happy with his life at any of the schools discussed here. But, as parents, the logistics of flights to a school closer to a major airport would have made our lives easier and our bank account healthier.

@Lanco1465 If you have any questions about Choate’s Advanced Robotics Concentration or robotics program at all, feel free to message me! I’m in my first year of ARC and I went to robotics team meetings on Sundays last year.

@ChoatieMom BDL is not that bad! Although I can definitely agree on the annoyance of no direct flights. I hate O’Hare, so of course I have to take flights through it each time I go to/leave from school.

BDL is a lovely little airport, no issue with the airport itself, just the fact that no airline flies direct between it and our home airport–major nuisance and expense.

I like that BDL is small. It makes it easier to walk to the Sheraton when the only direct flight from our home airport arrives at 12:30am.

BTW @Lanco1465 - is your child only applying to 3 schools total? The admission stats are better for siblings, but the overall Choate admission rate continues to go down. We applied to 7 schools the second time around (and only applied to 5 the first time), not wanting to rely too much on a sibling advantage at Choate. They emailed parents that while there is historically a higher admission rate among siblings, the admission process remains very competitive.

If you can’t get in Choate, you won’t get in any of three you mentioned. they are much more competitive than Choate. I think you have the best chance with Choate since his sister is there.

Thank you all for responding. Maybe I omitted that we’re ‘US internationals’ and live overseas so our DD always traveled in and out of JFK. I took a domestic flight from BDL in 2018 and was impressed by the airport - clean and modern with lovely restaurants and shops.

Totally agree with @ChoatieMom that any of these schools will give DS a great academic foundation and are equally tough to get in. Although having gone through one child’s application process, I realize that sometimes the admission decision comes down to what particular role/student the school is looking to fill in terms of demographics, nationality, sports team gap, gender, URMs etc etc. As such, we are really really hoping that he gets into Choate! DD is having a truly amazing time :slight_smile:

@CavsFan2003 Thank you for the offer! Will definitely connect with you to learn more., DM? In Dec '17 our tour/interview fell on a Saturday so no classes we going on. However, during our tour of Lanphy, we saw the Robotics team in the lab and they even let us in for a couple of minutes to watch…DS was wowed!

@Altras We’re planning on 8-9 schools in all. We’re trying to arrive at a set of top schools aka ‘reach schools’. For DS we applied to 8 and ended up with 5 admits and 3 WL. Yes, we’re seeing a definite tightening in acceptances, so casting a wider net for sure.

@WhittleC That’s not necessarily how admissions work; it’s all about fit. I was rejected and waitlisted by schools with 30-50% acceptance rates, but got into schools like St. Mark’s, Choate, and Hotchkiss, which are all much lower. Since I’m a Choatie and very biased, I’ve gotta say that all of these schools are pretty similar competition-wise. Choate has a sub-16% acceptance rate.

@Lanco1465 DMs would work great!

SPS has a good robotics program, FYI.

Thanks for your opinion. You are totally wrong, though. Each decision is independent.


I’ve said before on this forum that I loved Choate and the only reason I did not apply was the relative difficulty of getting there as an international. But that’s just personal bias which was also a reason I did not apply to Yale. But getting to Choate, from either JFK or BDL, is still a whole lot easier than getting to Hotchkiss or SPS.

Having had kids at both Hotchkiss and St. Paul’s, both schools provide airport transportation for major breaks and holidays.

In addition, Hotchkiss is less than 30 min from the Wassaic train station, with trains that run to NYC on a regular basis. There are local cabs that will drive students to the train station and on breaks the school provides a bus to the train. Buses are also arranged by the school to the airport for breaks.

Similarly, on breaks St. Paul’s has buses to the major airports as well as to New Haven, Hartford, Greenwich, NYC and Secaucus. St. Paul’s is also reachable from Logan by Concord Coach to Concord and then taxi. In addition, it is less than 40 min from SPS to Manchester, NH, airport.

Please feel free to DM or ask here for more information on similarities/differences between these schools. I don’t have any insight as to Lawrenceville as we never looked at it.

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Lawrenceville is most like Choate and if I had been the one choosing that would have been my pick. That said, who knows where we are going to be in terms of this pandemic come next fall I think SPS (and Hotchkiss to a lesser degree) have the advantage of being much more of a closed campus being able to create a bubble for the kids. Choate and Lawrenceville are pretty bad in that regard, too many day students, too many staff members living off campus and a lot of exposure to the nearby university as well as larger urban area. Which to us was a positive in normal times, but it makes operations much harder in covid times.

Disagree with Whittle - Choate actually now has a lower admission rate than either SPS or Lawrenceville. Having a sibling at the school should improve your chances at Choate.

My daughter is also a 5th Former at Choate having started last year in 4th Form. She absolutely loves it. She always thought she would want to go to SPS (my alma mater) but fell in love with Choate the minute we drove on-campus. She applied to SPS, L’Ville, Hotchkiss, Groton and Deerfield with Westminster and Brooks as her safeties.

SPS is only an hour and 10 minutes from Boston’s Logan airport… it’s not out in the boonies from that perspective. However, a word of caution about SPS, it continues to be plagued by its dark history of predatory behavior which many schools share. The difference is that the board and (past) leadership of the school buried the truth and in case after case refused re-victimized the victim by failing to acknowledge and take responsibility for the horrific atrocities. Several books and articles have now been published and as I understand it, there is more to come. When SPS trips, the whole media jumps on it… it’s really hard on the students and faculty to have to continue to be bombarded with this dark history, much that as taken place in the last decade. My understanding is that the culture has NOT changed. Full disclosure, I LOVED the school but am grateful that my daughter chose Choate instead.

@Lanco1465 You have not indicated whether or not it’s on your list, but we felt that Andover was very similar to Choate with regard to academcis, athletics, culture, and general feel.

Bit of a misinterpretation - from my perspective.

You don’t think the new school head is changing the culture? You really think other boarding schools have been open and honest about their checkered histories?

@Altras I think so too, maybe little more jock culture? We are debating between PEA and PA on a daily basis - we have no answer yet! Cannot do both because of limitations to the number of BS we wish to apply to. From cultural/fit perspectives I am leaning toward PA, but between the two, PEA seems marginally stronger in STEM while PA is stronger in Humanities (I could be wrong).

Also, based on stats, PA takes in a few more internationals than PEA, so we think admit chances are better. Either way, both schools have fantastic academics with highly competitive students, I believe we will have to learn more about the culture and what appeals to DS. Will try to look into JV tennis teams and openings too…

As a current SPS parent, @Bulldog86 is correct in that exposing the past is hurtful to current students and alums. However, the culture has definitely changed - the school is committed to transparency and the new head, Kathy Giles, is willing to shake things up when necessary.

Other schools, including Hotchkiss and Lawrenceville, have had their share of similar stories, some very recent. Perhaps they haven’t attracted as much media attention because they’ve settled out of court and there were no books written about them.

SPS has successfully established their “bubble” and I believe Hotchkiss has as well. Both schools have the resources to continue testing, as appropriate, and their low/no day student population makes it much more likely that they will be able to maintain their bubbles.

My son went to Lawrenceville (class of 18). He really enjoyed his time there. The school is very similar to Choate and SPS. There are some minor differences among the 3, but they are largely the same. The 6-day school week made for interesting and lively weekends on campus. The day students tend to hang around till very late on weekdays, and most weekends.

Getting to/from the airport is indeed easiest from Lville. But I’m not sure I would use that as the primary factor when choosing a school. There are only 3 breaks (Thanksgiving, Winter and Spring). At the most 6 times per year your child will need to make the trek to the airport. Even with a connecting flight, its that not that difficult.