As the rather eventful school year comes to an end, Maggie C.(‘23) is starting to prepare for her transfer to Phillips Exeter Academy in the next school year. A number of Taipei American School students like her apply to boarding schools in search of a different, allegedly better, education environment every year.
Phillips Exeter Academy, a 1,200-student-strong coed school located in New Hampshire, is just one of the many elite boarding schools TAS students apply to, along with Phillips Andover Academy, St. Paul’s School and The Lawrenceville School. Its reputation as a “feeder school”—a school that sends a high number of students to Ivy League universities—annually attracts students worldwide, hence its acceptance rate being lower than 20 percent.
Maggie is following the path of both her sisters, who each went to Milton Academy and Phillips Andover. According to her, Exeter offers greater diversity, more course offerings, clubs and activities, compared to TAS. As a Volleyball and Tennis player, she hopes to take advantage of Exeter’s plentiful opportunities to compete in sports.
Given that this was her second time applying, she said that the application process was much easier than the first time. Yet, it was no less grueling and long, requiring her “to write a bunch of long essays.”
She took her application interview in the United States, but she says Skype and local alumni interviews are also viable options for the interview. She advises prospective applicants that “[in interviews,] you don’t have to be nervous, you just have to be more talkative and interactive with the interviewer.”
However, like any other transferring student, she is concerned over adjusting to the new environment. She expects an overall upsurge in her commitments at Exeter based on its prestige: “its academics definitely would be challenging for me especially [because] I have to balance the work with my extracurricular activities,” she said.
Whether day or residential school is more sensible, remains a controversial topic in the education community. There is no doubt that boarding schools offer ample opportunities for students to grow their independence and problem solving skills. However, building more intimate relationships with family is one privilege boarding students must sacrifice. That being so, students must carefully weigh up the benefits and drawbacks of each type of school to decide the most suitable path for them.