Recently, I had a prospective Exeter student whom I toured ask me “how my Exeter experience has been in general.” Although I was tempted to write a ten page long response to her, I managed to refrain myself, but I thought you all might like to read what I had to say. So, here is a short description of why Exeter has changed me and my life. Forgive me, it was totally off the cuff, but I hope you all enjoy:
That’s quite a question, but let me try and tackle it. My experience at Exeter has been nothing short of extraordinary. I have made friends from every corner of the globe who I expect I will keep in touch with throughout my life (My friend from South Korea and I went to our other friend’s home in Chile over spring break, we even went to Patagonia and experienced a 7.0 earthquake!). I have loved 90% of my teachers, and some of them have really become mentors for me. I seek their advice on everything from my college choices to my prom date: they are a combination of a friend, teacher, and parent.
In my studies, my experience has been no less amazing. I came into Exeter expecting to focus in math and math-based sciences like physics. I did love math and physics here: they taught me a completely different way of learning around the Harkness table that frustrated me to no-end at first but actually made me appreciate the intricacies of the subject so much more. Instead of focusing in math, however, I ended up falling in love with history and biology. I took US history only because I had to, but writing my 333 (the infamous 12-20 page research paper) was one of the best academic experiences I ever had. By writing about what I was interested in, I realized that what had been my least favorite subject in middle school, history, could actually be quite fun and captivating. Biology has really been my favorite topic. I took freshman biology to get it over with, and fell in love. I’m sure I probably blabbed on and on in the tour about my fruit flies, but seeing science from the lab bench instead of just a textbook taught me so much about what it means to make mistakes, to question, and to persevere, not to mention what a field in that career would entail. Although the work here is manageable, I have certainly learned time management and how to function on a little less sleep and force myself to write an essay while my family watches the Super Bowl downstairs. I have worked harder than I ever have but I have enjoyed my work more than I ever have. Exeter has allowed me to grow, explore, and learn in the classroom, as well as become comfortable voicing my thoughts and ideas around the Harkness table.
Exeter also forced me out of my shell. Through squash I learned to work hard in things other than schoolwork, through tour guiding I learned how to talk to adults and think on the spot. Through clubs I met people with shared interests and found that for the first time in my life, I would rather hang out with friends on a Friday night than watch television alone. Perhaps it would have happened regardless of what school I attended, but I believe that Exeter has made me a more enjoyable and well rounded person– it has made me, well, me!
This is obviously a gross understatement– I could write a book about my Exeter experience. In short, though, it was the best experience of my life, and I imagine that college might likely pale in comparison to the Mecca of intellectual curiosity and genuine love of learning and life.