Which school is the best option? Thacher School, Phillips Andover, Milton Academy?

Hello, this is my first post. I have been peeking at several other threads and I first want to thank everyone who takes the time out of their day to help applicants for these prep schools get more clarity on the application process.

I have been accepted to Milton Academy, Concord Academy, Phillips Academy Andover, and the Thacher School (Ojai, CA). I live on the east side, so boarding at a school like Thacher will definitely be a different adjustment to get used to. But I’m down for it, and my parents are supportive about the school.

Now, to the point, I really would like it if you could break down the pros and cons of these schools, as I really want to attend all of these schools. But, I can only attend one, if you could also explain what school you’d choose to attend if you was me and why. I’m really attracted to Thacher because of its unique programs such as the horse and outdoor programs that teach its students to embrace nature as a daily teacher and mentor in life. Yet, Andover is a very prestigious school and is a school that many applicants are willing to die for. I still fail to understand how I got accepted, but I don’t want to lose such a valuable spot in their school.

With Milton, I find it to be very close to home, which makes me feel at ease with my boarding experience at the school. I also love the facilities and the people there, as soon as I stepped foot on campus, everyone was so welcoming and a few students even walked up to me to chat about their experience. Overall, a very welcoming community.

Thacher was the only school that communicated with me after notifying me of my acceptance on March 10th. My interviewer at Thacher called me on March 11th, once again congratulating me on my acceptance and explaining how my application stood out against hundreds of applicants. He highly encouraged that I visit campus and even offered to fly me out from Massachusetts to California so I could get a deeper feel of the community at Thacher.

Also, I am apart of a non-profit organization called Beacon Academy. This is intended to help minorities get into independent schools by reclassing incoming 9th graders to stay in their one-year program that helps them hone their skills and build positive habits for independent schools we may get into; such as time management and advocating to our teachers if we’re struggling. They support us throughout the entire application process with editors that help us polish our essays, so we can submit our best applications possible. The point of this is that Beacon has sent previous students that have since graduated from Beacon, into two of the schools I was accepted to, Phillips Andover and Thacher. So, if I do go all the way to California, I won’t be alone and will have someone that has experience at Thacher to guide me. I thought that was something worth adding.

(Sorry if I wrote a lot, I’d appreciate any response! Thank you)

I wrote this document containing pros and cons about my choices (exeter and Andover). Anyone is free to read it, I tried to put it in clear framework based on my understanding. However, it is quite personal so may not have as much utility. Still, it might give you an idea

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It seems like you want to go to Thatcher based on your post. It is a great school in a beautiful setting and I have only heard great things from current students. I would suggest trying to go to all the revisit days and see which one you feel the most comfortable at and most excited about spending the next four years at.


Accept the visit offer from Thacher before you make up your mind!! First, their reaching out, with specifics about why you stood out says a lot. Second, if you don’t know the west, you should at least see it before committing to it! Third, it has the most distinctively outdoor lifestyle (not least b/c the weather is so much kinder than New England- winter temps are 50-70F!).

These 4 schools are all very strong academically, and you can’t make a bad choice! However, they are pretty different in terms of experience- size, intensity of academic pressure, environment, etc. I understand wanting to make a pros/cons list to help you make the “best” decision, but none of them are absolutely the best choice for everybody. For example, I know an Andover student who loved being with other super-motivated students- and I know a student who withdrew after 1 semester b/c they were so unhappy with the amount of pressure. What suits one person doesn’t suit another.

The only straight-up opinion I will offer is this: trust yourself, not the prestige of the name or other people’s advice. The most important difference is where you feel most at home- as it will be your home for the next four years! You’ve started a good list of pros/cons for yourself, so keep working on it!

I hope you take Thacher up on their offer- and would love to hear what you think of it!


You’ll get an excellent education at all of them. Please visit Thacher! Very cool program, and the horse and outdoor programs are built in stress busters.

They are all prestigious to people in the know. You are picking your home and life for the next 4 years. It sounds like Thacher is your first choice now. If it still is after the visit, jump at the chance to go.


Congratulations on being accepted to such prestigious schools! It’s great to hear that you have a lot of options to choose from.

Phillips Academy Andover is one of the most prestigious schools in the country with a rigorous academic program, excellent facilities, and a strong sense of community. It has a diverse student body and a wide range of extracurricular activities. The school also offers a variety of unique programs, including the Andover Bread Loaf program which focuses on literacy and the Tang Institute which promotes innovative teaching and learning.

Concord Academy is known for its excellent academics and focus on student-centered learning. It has a strong arts program and offers many opportunities for students to explore their interests. The school also has a close-knit community and a commitment to diversity and inclusivity.

Milton Academy is known for its strong academics, diverse student body, and excellent facilities. The school has a wide range of extracurricular activities, including athletics, performing arts, and community service. It’s also located close to home, which may make the transition to boarding school easier for some students.

Thacher School has a unique focus on outdoor education and sustainability, which may appeal to students who enjoy nature and the outdoors. The school also has a strong sense of community and offers a wide range of extracurricular activities, including equestrian programs.

Based on what you’ve shared, it seems like you are most drawn to Thacher School because of its unique programs and focus on outdoor education. It’s great that you have a connection to the school through the non-profit organization you are involved in, and that they have offered to fly you out to visit the campus. It’s also worth considering the other factors that are important to you, such as location, academic program, and sense of community.

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Let me add that schooling is a very low commitment way to experience another part of the country.


Congrats these are great options. I would look closely at how each school has supported students like you in the past. Milton has a great history of supporting kids from a wide variety of backgrounds. It’s also the closest to a major city, which I see as a huge plus. good luck with your decision.

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I do remember to meet one of the Thacher’s school AOs in one of their road admission events and they told us that they moved to CA after their second kid loved the school too and enrolled. They went to visit them often and loved there more and eventually packed and moved to CA. I wasn’t brave enough to let my daughter to go that far. We are in east coast but my daughter was ready to go after knowing that every student gets a horse to care for it, for the first school year. :slight_smile: So if you like adventures and your parents are supportive it’s not a bad thing to try it or take advantage of what they are offering you to go see it first before you decide.


Agree with the consensus – the only important thing is which of these excellent options is “best” for YOU!