We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
It's my alma mater, so I think it's a good place. Tough but supportive sort-of: they will certainly toss you if you don't want to get with the program. Many claim that Andover has smarter, more competition-minded kids, but a colder atmosphere. A visit to Phillips Exeter Academy.
In my view, most of the elite New England prep schools are extremely demanding academically, socially, athletically, and emotionally. The stress and frequent misery and humiliation are part of their mission, like boot camp. Nobody gets As. These schools feel that if one kid gets an A, that is just proof they are not pushing the kids hard enough. I got 2 As in four years, and I worked my butt off. The mandatory 3-hour study hall every evening helped me learn, and the mandatory chapel, formal meals, lights-out, no TV or radios, and other structures helped center me. After class on Saturday mornings we had choir practice, then sports. Sundays, sleep late, then required church, formal lunch, 2 hrs study hall - then free for the rest of the day but you had better be ready to be called on, on Monday morning: "You read the essay, yes? And Madison's paper? So defend Madison's position on ... in light of the new Constitution."
Sad to say, these academies are not as structured these days but remain academically rigorous.
Caught with tobacco, drugs, drink? Sent home for good in shame, immediately. Sports required for 3 hours every afternoon, regardless of ability. Sex? We were not coed quite yet, which helped concentration enormously.
Just to maintain some perspective for those parents with a family income of, let's say, $96,000 p.a (with both working) who are considering getting the kids into Exeter, here's the tuition schedule for 2014-2015:
I'm not arguing. What is obvious is obvious. Most can't afford private and public school, too. Other than the value proposition (for those who can afford it), my point is if we all were given the money spent on our kids by the public school bureaucracy rather than the (in most cases) substandard education, more of us could afford a much better education.
This reminds me a bit of the boarding school I went to. We were a bit more formal - coats & ties for all classes and meals. Suits for Sunday chapel. My school was certainly not as rigorous as Exeter - I doubt I would have made it there - but it was and is an excellent school. It was recently ranked 39th out of the top 50 prep schools by Business Insider. It's a lot smaller - my graduating class was about 37 boys, and not as old - 115 years old this year.
I think a lot of people have the wrong idea about prep (and especially boarding prep schools) and the kids who go to them. My wife was a bit apprehensive about going to the first reunion she was able to attend. She worried that my class would be made up of stuck up over achievers, but the truth is that in my little class, there is quite a range - from the gay communist machinist to the corporate lawyer to the software engineer to the entrepreneur to the musician and she didn't think any of them were stuck up. Several classmates are very good musicians and our reunions are always full of music and fun.
As much as I said I hated it when I was there, it a source of pride that I graduated from there. I never miss a reunion.
Congratulations on graduating from Exeter, Barrister. You should be very proud of that.
I had a chance to go to a private school, instead of public high school. I did not take the chance and somehow drifted in public school until I went to yeshiva.
The yeshiva I went to in NY the Mir was also very much like how you describe Exeter. And it was an amazing experience.
So I think that it is in fact a true point that going to the best possible school is worth any amount of money.
Yet for all that, there is no evidence that they create value-added. As with the Ivies, they start with the best students, who are still the best students 4-6 years later.
I touched only the edge of this at SPS for a summer. I loved it and thrived in it. It feels valuable. But attempts to assemble evidence that similar populations do better in this environment over others have not impressed me.
Assistant Village Idiot