Why I Chose Exeter

SpiritI don’t want this to be another cliché post about how I chose my school because of the community. In fact, every school is a community, no matter what kind of community it may be. But what really distinguishes Exeter is what makes up this special – warm, inspiring, diverse, and vibrant – community. At Exeter, you take the unlimited opportunities it offers to be your best self; whoever that may be, and whatever that may take. And that is why I chose Exeter; the opportunity it offers to try to be my best self.

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Meet the squash team. As you can probably tell from the photo, we are the most fun-loving, tight-knit, and hilarious team at Exeter. I started playing squash long before I came to Exeter. My coaches, Ms. Carbonell, Coach Shang, and Freddie has helped me improve so much over the past two seasons. My fellow teammates, from Elle and Anisha (who were seniors last year) to Alison and Meghana who are on the novice team this year, have helped me become a better teammate.

Exeter has taught me that squash is not just an individual sport. All my teammates, no matter which place they are at on the ladder, cheer me on and motivate me to give my 100% on every single practice and match. When it’s a two-all match score, Continue reading

Why I Chose Exeter

Hey Everyone!

I still remember the day that I found out I was accepted. I woke up to my Mom screaming downstairs.I leaped out of bed and ran downstairs- thinking the worst. She was standing in front of our computer looking at an email. I leaned over her shoulder and the words “Congratulations Jennifer” were spelt out in bold across the page. I did it. All of my hard work had paid off- I had been accepted into my dream school. For me, it came down between Exeter and our rival school Andover. My older brother had attended Exeter, so I had grown up attending his hockey and lacrosse games- it had always felt so comfortable. It did not take me long to decide where I wanted to go. Going to Exeter has been one of the best experiences of my life. I have leaned so much about me- things that I never thought I would. I have changed so much both as a person, an athlete, a student and a friend. Are there sometimes where the work seems too hard? Of course. Exeter is a hard school academically- it pushes you and I would be lying if sometimes the work gets to you. But all of you were accepted to Exeter because of your academic strength-the admission officers believe you will not only survive but THRIVE and add to the community.

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My friends back home ask me all the time- “Why did youchoose Exeter?” I could say its the academics, or the reputation of being one of the best high schools in the world, or the great athletics, but that would not encompass why I came here. There is not one tangible reason why I came. Things I love about Exeter are the way the trees bloom in the spring, or how even in the dead of winter people are still happy to be here. Or maybe when I am on break, I actively count the days until I can return home. There it is- I don’t refer to Exeter as my school- it’s truly become my home. I catch myself referring it to as such without even realizing it.

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A Saturday Night at Abbott Casino

I am sure all of you reading this have been accepted to great schools. You really cannot go wrong. As you go through the revisit process, pick where you see yourself not only attending classes, but living, and hanging out and making life long friends. When my brothers were deciding on colleges, my dad had them take a “Broken Leg Test.” Both of them were Division 1 lacrosse players. He wanted them to go somewhere where even if they broke their leg and couldn’t play lacrosse, that they would still love the school. Try to keep that in mind as you go through this process. Make sure you love the school you choose. (I hope that it’s Exeter!) I hope to see you on the path in September.

Good Luck,

Jenn

Community

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Winter term has come to an end and I have been reflecting on what really made me come to Exeter. There are so many wonderful academic programs and opportunities for students to broaden their horizons, but I think what really made me interested in Phillips Exeter Academy is the friendships formed among peers. Before going to boarding school, I already knew about Exeter being one of the top boarding schools in the country, but what I did not know about was the strong student community. When I returned to Exeter on my revisit day I had the opportunity to follow a student to their classes and their dorm for a few hours. In that short amount of time, I was able to observe how close and friendly students were with each other. It seemed as though getting all of the work done after classes was made a little bit less arduous for my tour guide by the people he spent time with. He sat in a study group with his friends in the dorm so that hours of homework that they received that night was less tedious and more of a social activity.

Now that I have attended Exeter for two terms, I have been able to experience the close Exeter community first hand. I have made so many friends in my dorm and around campus who were a key part in helping me take the pressure of myself while I adjusted to Exeter academics. The proctors and other seniors in my dorm helped me to get out of the dorm more often and explore all that Exeter has to offer. Greg, Anzi, and Brian, all of whom live only a few doors away, became the closest friends that I have ever had and showed me that you can get good grades while having fun with your friends. To me, at least, the community and friendships are what really make Exeter the best boarding school in the country.

Hope to see you for Experience Exeter!

– Jackson

Why I’m an Exonian

With friendsI remember my Experience Exeter.  It gave me my first taste of what it meant to be an Exonian–the infamous Harkness method, the fortune of having a cancelled class when a pending essay is due, and the Exonian “I’ll-get-it-done” spirit.  To be honest, I expected that from Experience Exeter.  What I didn’t expect was the weather: snow.  I had arrived in town the night before, March 31st, and it was a balmy 50 degrees.  I woke up to at least two feet of snow.  April fools, if only….

But as I trudged around campus with my host that day, watching campus facilities clearing the paths and all of the grumbles about Spring-never-coming (something that I imagine has already been a common conversation this year), I saw Exeter as a place, a home.  It’s not that I don’t think Admissions does a good job because I think they do. Rather, it’s simply hard to give every prospective student an active experience. By active, I mean talking to potential peers, teachers, coaches, friends, roommates, etc.  Tours show you the campus, all of its buildings and facilities, but fails to show you the people.  And, to me, Exeter has always been about the people.  They’re laughs and smiles about the never-ending winter are what attracted me to Exeter.  Exonians, I’ve learned after four years, have fun in any weather.  And maybe you can too.

Why I Chose Exeter

Hey everyone!

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Out to dinner in town with friends

We are already a couple days into spring break, and so that means sunny spring term is just around the corner! Exciting! But more exciting is the fact that Exeter just sent out acceptance letters to future Exonians all around the world. I remember being elated when I got “that email” on the morning of March 10th (and of course, later that day, the big packet with lots of information). I also remember the period following March 10th, when I had to make the tough decision of choosing to attend one of three boarding schools or to remain at home and attend a day school.

Heading into the revisit days, I really had no clue what I wanted to do; I loved my school at home, and I loved being home, but the idea of attending a boarding school really excited me. Even if I decided to go to a boarding school, I had the additional problem of deciding which one was right for me.

But after going to the revisit days for each school, my dad (who accompanied me on the three revisit days) and I whole heartedly agreed that Exeter was my best option.

Yes, Harkness sounded amazing, the courses of instruction list was diverse and in depth, the facilities and faculty were impressive, and there were more than 100 clubs to take part in– those were, are, and always will be true, and although I believe these qualities are particularly true for Exeter, most great boarding schools have these attributes (aside from Harkness).

For me, what set Exeter apart was the people. At each school I had plenty of chances to hang out with students, faculty and staff, and at Exeter, everyone seemed so genuine, so interested, so different, and so cool. Exeter was the only school where the students and faculty seemed to have such diverse backgrounds and interests– you might ask, why is that important? Well, because it makes everything so much more fun and interesting. With different backgrounds and interests comes more meaningful, deep discussions at the Harkness table, more diverse ways of thinking for tackling problems, more captivating conversations among friends, and overall a better atmosphere.

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Now that I have been here for almost three years, I can definitely say that is true. I have friends who are coding geniuses and piano prodigies; I have friends who love politics or are avid sports followers; I have friends who hail from Korea and Chile. These people not only introduce me to new cultures, but they also get me to try things that I would never do otherwise. One friend and I put together a drone, flew it over campus, and took photos (which you can see in this post), another friend and I built a website off of an idea of mine (he’s the coding genius), and another one introduced me to the sport of squash, which is now one of my favorite activities. So many of the activities I have begun or interests I have acquired are because of my friends. And at Exeter, where the activities to begin and interests to acquire run in abundance, there is no better place to grow as a student, athlete, person, and friend.

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Studying with friends

 

Home

My hometown is 9907.8 miles away from Exeter. That means a rough estimate of a 20 hour plane flight. Family friends back home keep telling my parents, “Why send your only daughter so far away?” “Won’t you miss her?” “Won’t she miss you?”

Hilary at assembly

Faculty Follies at Assembly

My first year in Amen Hall, I didn’t know what to expect. My first class, I didn’t know what to expect. Even as the term break reaches an end and I can feel spring term just around the corner, I still get excited to see if that boy is in my English class, or that girl is in my math class (you get the jist). Exeter, in the midst of its packed routines and hectic workload, always finds a way to surprise me. Don’t get me wrong! I’m not usually one all for surprises, but these are pleasant surprises. Little surprises. But surprises.

I get asked what made me choose Exeter quite a lot. Why Exeter? I don’t have a ‘real’ answer. It’s not just the faculty, although faculty follies (a faculty skit assembly, see picture) this year was a-mazing, not just the dorm, not just the academics. It’s Exeter as a whole. Enduring this bitter winter by penguin huddling to walk to 8 am class in one piece, study parties in the common room, seeing Principal Hassan serve pancakes at Elm Street dining hall, getting that A on that physics test. Exeter is more than just some prep school that’s mentioned in Gossip Girl. It’s a home. It’s a home for the custodians, for the students, for the faculty members, for the dogs and cats that roam around the path. Exeter, as we hear a lot, is a community. And for the past 2 short years, it’s been and always will be mine.

When I’m home, I get to relax and not worry about finals or what club meeting I have tomorrow or how many frees I have the next day. But I’ll probably still be wearing my Exeter sweatpants or Facetiming the girl who lives just across the hall from me. Once you come to a place like Exeter, there’s no going back. You’re bound to its memories, its smell, its environment. You’re bound to it. A bound that, at least for me, spans the 9907.8 miles of land and sea.

Why I Chose Exeter

I chose Exeter because I absolutely fell in love with the place after Experience Exeter. I remember the campus was beautiful that time in the spring, but even more memorable than the scenery were the people. My Experience Exeter host was a lower in Cilley, a kid by the name of Hojung Kim, who eventually became one of my closest friends and mentors.

Georgia, a fellow Cilley upper at Hammersmiths

With Georgia, a fellow Cilley upper at Hammersmith’s during my birthday earlier this year

Hojung didn’t have a lot of classes the day that I met him, so he showed me around during his free time. He gave me a tour, let me into his dorm and let me take a nap in his bed, played tennis with me in the afternoon and made sure I met Exonians of all backgrounds and ages. Everyone that he showed me was brilliant, and not in one way, but in multiple ways.

Cilley boys hanging out on a late Saturday night

Cilley boys hanging out on a late Saturday night, bonding over board games

I remember meeting Max, a tall, quiet, tri-varsity athlete who was also the head of Exeter’s Social Service Organization, and completely fluent in Chinese. I remember meeting Morgan, a prep, a masterful debater and amazing guitar player.

Senior Benj and Upper Pranay

Senior Benj and Upper Pranay during breakfast in Wetherell

Even now, the people I meet continue to amaze and impress me. But it was not the fact that people were studious, hardworking, or insanely smart that drew me to Exeter. It was the simple fact that these were genuine people: kind, caring kids that acted more like a family than a group of teenagers.

Needless to say, what I love most about Exeter is the people.

Lessons from “East” Germany

Hands-on visit to the basement prison used by East German officials

Hands-on visit to the basement prison used by East German officials

Last weekend my host family and I went into the Harz Mountains, the tallest mountain range in Northern Germany. While the Brothers-Grimm-esque scenery was stunning, what caught my attention was a road sign: “Germany and Europe were divided here until the 21st of December 1989 at 8 AM.” I’ve taken modern European history both in Exeter and elsewhere and only now have I begun to understand World War II’s legacy on the modern German conscience. I’ve been learning history “hands-on” here. Our history teacher took us to an Inner-Border Museum several weeks ago.  During the hour trip there and back, he told us about how he often crossed the border to visit family members stuck in the East. He explained how they’d smuggle bananas, quality coffee, blue jeans, and other western goods into the country. When we pulled up to the museum, formerly a vehicular border-crossing, he commented on how the building seemed friendlier when East German guards weren’t swarming the place. 

The museum told not only the story of Germany, but the story of separation. The first room we entered was a short film on walls that are still exist, or, “walls still to fall.” If you broaden the idea of “walls” to include divisions such as cultural misunderstandings or various phobias, it’s interesting to then analyze the German approach to the events surrounding Charlie Hebdo and the so-called “Islamization of Europe.” It’s not an easy topic but, as an Exonian, I prefer the harder discussions. The talk lately has centered on PEGIDA, a German anti-Islamic organization. Most Germans disapprove of PEGIDA. They view a multicultural society as stronger and more successful. 

Not just another strip of land.  This used to be dotted with a razor-wire electric fence, watch towers, and mines.  Now, it's a nature reserve.
Not just another strip of land. This used to be dotted with a razor-wire electric fence, watch towers, and mines. Now, it’s a nature reserve.

For me, it’s a lesson in learning from the past. The Germany I’ve been living in is not the Germany my grandparents and great-uncles fought against. As much as I’ve been able to understand the history of German, I’ve been able to learn more about  the current views of German and they give me hope that the past won’t be repeated.