Why I Chose Exeter: Opportunity

To those of you who have been waiting for March 10, you’ve made it!  Now, you have a choice to make.  When I was in your shoes two years ago, it was a pretty simple one for me.  There were so many reasons why Exeter was the right choice for me and one of the biggest ones was that Exeter has so many opportunities just waiting to be explored.  When I flipped through the course catalog, spoke with my tour guide, and looked at the website, I knew that being at Exeter would open the door to many amazing opportunities.

This past summer, following my prep year, I was fortunate enough to take part in one of those opportunities.  I traveled to Japan with eleven other PEA students and the head of the Japanese language program.  Though I do not study the Japanese language, I applied for the trip hoping to learn from going somewhere I had never been and experiencing a culture very different from anything to which I had previously been exposed.  I lived with a host family and spent my days at a Japanese high school with the other Exeter students on the trip.  We also went on excursions to temples and markets and learned the language.  The trip gave me a chance to get to know some of my classmates better, to experience a different culture, and most importantly, to try new things, whether that be new food, new experiences, or navigating a foreign city alone.

Japanese Market

A market in Tokyo

Not only does Exeter have summer trips through each of the language programs, but you can also study abroad for a term or a year in Spain, China, France, Russia, Germany, Italy, etc.  There have been programs through the history department to Gettysburg and Nashville to study the history of the Civil War, and this past fall, there was a trip over Thanksgiving break sponsored by the Art Department to New York City.  Exeter can take you from Taiwan to Cuba, and many places in between.


The Exeter students with our host siblings and classmates on our last day in Japan

In addition to the extensive classes and trips that are available, there is also an immense variety of clubs and sports in which you can take part.  Having all of these opportunities available was one of the driving forces behind my decision to come to Exeter, and now that I am here, all I have to do is be open to them.

Why I Chose Exeter

Congratulations to all of you on being accepted! To help you decide between schools, I wanted to share what made Exeter stand out to me: its people. As a day student, I want to tell you about the 20% of people on campus who fit into that category.

Day students don’t spend as much time together as the boarders who live in one dorm all together do, as we live in towns throughout New England, some much closer to school than others. Don’t let the distance fool you, the day students or day studs as we have affectionately been dubbed, are a very close group. When students come to campus before their first year, Day students have an ice cream social so we can get to know each other, meet our student listeners, which dorms have as well, get to know the older, returning day studs and start feeling like a group. All of this happens before anyone else comes to campus; International students arrive a few days later, new boarders do so a few days after that, and all returning boarders reach campus the following day.

The day students then mix with everyone else and people often don’t know who’s a boarder and who isn’t mostly because it really doesn’t matter. You make friends and what matters is what dining hall they eat in and what music they like and whether or not you have classes together, not where you live. But for those of you thinking that the older day students you meet early in the year forget you, or don’t care, think again. In March, roughly seven months after I first met a lot of these people they still say hi to me, wish me luck at sports tryouts, and look out for me in so many situations. Day students know each other and are close even without seeing each other every day.

Another thing I love about being a day student goes along with being a tour guide (which I highly recommend). Over breaks, a group of day students give tours for admissions. This year there are seven of us, three preps (9th graders), one lower (10th grader), two uppers (11th graders), and one senior. We spend a lot of time together throughout the year, and I’ve learned that the other six day studs are some of the funniest, kindest, most awesome people I know on this campus. The seven of us get closer every break and stay close throughout the terms. They’re so awesome that I willingly give up free time I could spend sleeping to hang out with them. If that doesn’t prove how cool they are, I don’t know what will.

Another cool thing about being a day student is sleepovers. Day students can spend the night in dorms, with permission from a parent and a dorm faculty member. I have taken full advantage of this and spent more nights than I can count curled up on the floors of dorm rooms, staying up way too late talking about anything from a TV show to teachers to our favorite dining hall meals. Sleepovers in dorms are also a really great way to make friends with even more upperclassmen who will look out for you. The older students in the dorms are funny, amazing people who will remember you ages after the last time you slept over. It’s also possible to have boarders spend the night at your house, it just involves some paperwork. This is awesome because your boarder friends get to sleep in a real bed, eat a home cooked meal or two and you get to hang out away from the bustle of campus. And you can go on adventures, like driving to the beach to watch the sunrise over the water at 6 o’clock in the morning.


The sunrise over the Atlantic with two of my friends, one a day student, the other a boarder.


Overall being a day student doesn’t change the people you hang out with or the way your life on campus works. In fact, I think it makes it even better. To quote Hannah Montana, “It’s the best of both worlds!”




Two of my day student friends the day before Exeter/Andover fall games.




Why I Chose Exeter: Extracurriculars and Weekend Activities

Now, sleeping in and studying all day can be fun for some, but as the saying goes, “Work hard, play hard.” I’ve had some of the most fun and rewarding times bonding with friends over the weekends.

Andrew - WICE 2

As soon as my Friday classes end at 6pm, I rush over to d-hall to eat dinner with LCC (Latin Conversation Club). Afterwards, we commute to the Academy Building to play a round of certamen, or Latin quiz bowl. It might sound nerdy, might (definitely) be nerdy, but don’t knock it till you try it! For well over an hour we in Latin club sit round a Harkness table, hyper buzzing, laughing at ridiculous guesses, shouting across the room, and having a really good end to the week.

Typically, my weekend mornings have been spent relaxing; I’ll sleep in and grab a bite to eat at a cafe with dorm buddies. In the afternoons, I might get a homework assignment or two out of the way, and sometimes, if any other friends are up to it, head over to the Saturday mall excursion for dinner and a movie.

There might also be activities both on and off campus. Regularly, dances and other events are hosted in Grainger Auditorium. And if you’re in a varsity level sport, you’ll be waking up bright and early to board a bus and head over to games. And the same goes with clubs! Personally, I went with Latin club to compete at Yale in a certamen tournament (that’s right), with Mock Trial to the state tournament, and with Korean American Society to visit HMart! And let me tell you: you’ve never seen a sunrise as beautiful as Exeter’s.

Andrew - WICE

Why I Chose Exeter: Dorm Life

Prior to my arrival at Exeter, I had zero experience living away from my parents. I couldn’t even imagine sleeping in a bed other than my own. As I received my acceptance last year, this thought thrust itself to the forefront of my concerns at the time. I learned that I would live in one of the boys dorms on campus, and I would spend my entire time at Exeter in the dorm I was placed in. I started thinking, who would I live with and what would they be like?

I got into contact with some local alumni, and I asked them about their experiences in their respective dorms during their time at Exeter. Their eyes lit up as they reminisced about “dorm pride” and the interesting people they encountered from all over the world in the buildings they had the privilege to live in. I knew I could never attain this type of experience at any other place, let alone at my local high school. There were still concerns, however, as to how I would fit into the dorm as an incoming lower (Exeter lingo for 10th grader).

As I revisited the school during Experience Exeter, I shadowed a new lower throughout a normal Exeter day in the middle of spring term. He lived in Soule Hall, a tight-knit dorm on the north side of campus. He spent some of his free periods in the dorm that day, and he introduced me to some of his dorm mates. I hadn’t even enrolled in the school, and they were already joking with me and engaging in conversation as if I was one of their own. They high-fived me throughout as I saw them along the path with my guide, and I felt completely at home.

Soule Hall

A year later, I find myself in Soule Hall with the same group of guys that I encountered on my shadow day. I couldn’t be happier partaking in our dorm soccer rivalry with Abbot Hall, among other spirited dorm activities. You can easily identify us on campus by our chants of “SOULE HALL” as we see one another on the path. I love my dorm, and the people who I’ve grown to know in my building will be some of my closest friends that I will know throughout my time here. I couldn’t imagine myself anywhere else.

Conor - dorm

Congratulations on your acceptance and you can reach me at chunt@exeter.edu for any questions about the school and its residential life.



Why I Chose Exeter

A year ago, on revisit day, I nervously arrived on campus. My brother was a senior then, so he met us before class and wished me good luck on my visit. Having him at Exeter gave me some comfort. I could breathe deeply with some foreknowledge about where all the buildings were, which dorms were which, and key terms every Exonian has to learn.  When I met my “Experience Exeter” buddy, with whom I would attend classes, I rejoiced in the fact that she was a stage manager in the mainstage production. After a day reveling in Harkness classes, it came time for Drama Sports, the physical activity portion of the Theatre program. After the cast and crew completed ten laps, they congregated by the theatre. I stood with them and felt as though I was already part of their community. We played an intense game of Ninja, and I felt like I could really become a part of the Exeter community.

That community has proved strong and supportive. My first term here, I acted in Blood Wedding, a Spanish drama adapted by members of the faculty. It was there I met some of my closest friends on campus. Our director gave us freedom during rehearsals to explore our characters and connect with the actors around us. One of the Spanish teachers sang the show’s lullaby in Spanish, which was mesmerizing and beautiful. The collaboration extended to our lighting designer Mr. Gendal who worked with the music department to create light and sound cues which added to the somber and intense mood. The second mainstage show this year was Into the Woods. This was a huge show to take on, but it was worth all the work. The set and costumes transported us to our faraway wood, where happily ever afters aren’t necessarily happy. With the orchestra behind us, our brilliant cast bonded both on stage and off while we sang and danced.


The other theatre community I am so happy to be apart of is DRAMAT. This is Exeter’s theatre club. It’s student run, directed, acted, and produced. Exonians submit scripts, original or not, and if the DRAMAT board select them, they cast and direct their show. I’ve performed in one of these shows, I am working on another, and will be helping to produce one in the spring. This has been the most rewarding theatre for me. Knowing everything that comes out of these shows has been created and nurtured by your friends and classmates gives the shows a personal and friendly touch.

For me, the tight theatre community is why I chose Exeter.


Why I Chose Exeter: The International Presence

Ok, I know the title says “The International Presence,” but that’s not the only reason why I chose Exeter. All the other bloggers picked up on key factors that should be taken into consideration, but the international community for me is a big factor of my decision. I’ll explain:

I’ve had a very international background. I was raised in London until the age of eleven. I then moved to Spain to master Spanish, and at thirteen I went to Switzerland to speak French. These experiences not only enabled me to understand a language, but to understand and connect with different cultures. When I got the acceptance letter to Exeter, I was over the moon. But, in the back of my mind, I knew that if I decided to attend, there would have to be an international presence so that I could continue my interactions with people who have different views than my own.


Despite my worries, I decided to visit Exeter on the Student Orientation Day. To my surprise, my tour guide also had an international upbringing; he lives in the U.S, but also grew up in Spain. For lunch, we sat next to a girl from Norway and met another student from the Czech Republic.

Students here really come from around the globe. Talking to others who have completely different upbringings; whether it be religious, cultural, or financial, all have one thing in common. We all go to Exeter. This one factor binds us and creates a unique learning environment.

If you decide to come to PEA, it’s important to take into account that you’re not only entering a school, but a community.

Contact me at arenaud@exeter.edu if you have any questions.

All the best!


Why I Chose Exeter: The Harkness Method

My favorite F. Scott Fitzgerald quote says this: “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind and still retain the ability to function.”
Before move in day of my lower year (keep in mind I was a new lower), I had never seen Exeter’s campus. Everything I knew about the school was based off the website and the admissions pamphlet. There had never been a student from my town at Exeter, and very few from my home state of Louisiana. At home, boarding schools were where the bad kids went, or rather, where bad kids were shipped off to by disgruntled parents. I found Exeter, and a few other schools, on the Internet and figured an application wouldn’t hurt anyone… but then I got in. Faced with a tough choice, my parents and I figured “why not?” so we packed all my stuff and made our way up to a strange prep school in New Hampshire. I knew a bit about the Harkness method, but not much. A bunch of kids sit around a table and talk… seemed pretty simple, right? Moral of the story is: Harkness wasn’t the reason I chose Exeter, I don’t even know why I chose to go here (luck maybe), but Harkness is one of the biggest reasons why I love Exeter.
In 1930, Edward Harkness made a sizable donation, $5.8 million to be exact, to our very own Phillips Exeter Academy. However, with this gift came some restrictions. Classes would be limited to 12 students, and all would share a common table with the teacher, the “Harkness Table.” He envisioned a new, revolutionary style of teaching where each student was both a teacher and a student to “his” peers. (Exeter was still an all boys school at the time of the Harkness gift.) Today, every classroom has a Harkness table and uses the Harkness Method, even math and science. Schools across the world have mimicked this rather strange method of teaching.
Everyone sits around the table, usually having done a reading the night before, and waits for class to begin. My favorite way for a teacher to start class is simply by saying, “Where do you all want to begin?” From there, the discussion takes off. Students will be making points, asking questions, building off of each other, agreeing, disagreeing, and sometimes sitting in silence while they take a moment to process. A good Harkness discussion is a beautiful thing. It is truly amazing to watch it flow, and turn, and change. Students come alive at the table. Harkness improves skills in history by completely immersing students in the information. In math, everyone works through the problems together, offering alternative ideas and solutions. Science brings the students together at the table and lab benches alike for a genuine hands on experience. English provides students with the opportunity to completely dive into the text and “flesh out” every possible route. It provides students with viewpoints different from their own in an effort to see the complete picture. The Harkness Method is an incredible thing that I am so lucky to be a part of.
Harkness has benefitted me in more ways than academics. I have learned to speak up and hold true to my opinion when appropriate, but I have also learned how to understand when I am wrong and acknowledge my mistakes. Harkness teaches you to hold yourself accountable. Harkness teaches you to listen. The common rule at Exeter is speak once, listen three times, and I use this even outside of the classroom. Harkness teaches eye contact. When a peer is speaking, look up so they know you are listening. Harkness teaches responsibility. If you are wrong, recognize it and move on. No one will hold it against you. Harkness teaches confidence. This, above all is my favorite attribute of the oval tables. The Harkness Method has taught me to be confident in every way, whether it in the classroom, with my friends, or when talking to adults. Harkness prepares you for life. It instills in its students character, responsibility, fortitude, and courage. I am confident that without Harkness, I would not be the person that I am today.
So, I highly recommend that you give the weird oval table a try.

Congratulations to all the newly accepted students! Welcome to Phillips Exeter Academy!

Feel free to ask me any questions about the Harkness Method or just the school in general! You can reach me at: lfidelak@exeter.edu

Why I Chose Exeter

One of my driving decisions to attend Exeter was the sports. I play many sports including Varsity Volleyball, JV Soccer, and JV Basketball. I love the feeling of competition and the strive to become a better athlete. The Academy has a long history of successful seasons.12244686_836265763138053_8535953735163307535_o.jpg This is due to the excellent coaching staff as well as the motivated players. The volleyball coach here – Coach Shang – is hands down the best coach I’be ever had. What amazes me is how he knows what exactly to do to get us to understand. He analyzes every player and breaks down the objective for them, making sure they understand what to do exactly. Within a week my volleyball skill has skyrocketed. Let’s not forget about the athletic trainers. The trainers here are amazing. They cater to specific sports and are experts in their fields. They are very accessible and easy to talk to. You can tell your safety is their number one priority. Mr. Hamel is my usual trainer, as he deals specifically with basketball and volleyball. I stop by quite often to ice and he’s always there if I have any questions or if I want to chat. Last but not least, my teammates. On and off the courts, it’s great being with these guys. On the volleyball court we are fierce competitors, protecting our New England Champions Title. In practice I’m always cheered up when I make a mistake by our seniors. They notice I beat myself, and tell me to not worry about and just do better next time. Off the court we just chill at the dining hall or our dorms. Even if I need help on my homework, someone on the team’s got me. Coming from a sport-oriented schools; great coaches, trainers, and teammates, this is why I chose Exeter.  524243_10205416599267496_8399597361949447801_n.jpg