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PREP REVIEW by Ansoo Chang


MIT Ivy League Oxbridge Educated Insiders' Guide to Boarding Schools in the US, UK and Canada

edited by Ansoo Chang

Pub Date: May 19th, 2011
ISBN: 978-1453682487
Publisher: CreateSpace

Reviews of 42 boarding schools in the U.S., U.K. and Canada by former students who have gone on to attend top universities.

These days, boarding schools are well versed in the hard sell via sleek websites, polished DVDs and professional school-review sites that often simply regurgitate a school’s marketing material. Parents and potential students will be thrilled with this independent guide showcasing the perspectives of former students who have gone on to brighter things. Although its range is limited—overlooking, for example, all the private military prep schools—the book is well organized. Each section provides the name and street address of the school, the founding date, a glowing quotation and a short list of notable alumni. Reviews are introduced with the name of the college or university the reviewer attends, followed by their prep school graduation year. Each review covers five standard sections: Academics, College Counseling, Admissions Process, Extracurricular Activities and Quality of Life. All entries conclude with a web address on that connects readers to further information about the school; however, a subscription is required to access most of the premium content. Within these reviews, readers will run into a plethora of platitudinous praise (“Kent is an amazing place,” “academics at St. Paul’s were amazing”) and the occasional criticism (“everything at [Northfield Mount Hermon] is micromanaged,” “I found our university preparation lacking” at Cheltenham Ladies’ College). Some comments are so sweeping that readers may question how the college-age reviewer gained such a far-reaching perspective: The Harkness method used at Phillips Exeter Academy leads to “probing discussion on a breadth of topics at intellectual levels rare at most secondary schools,” while a new arts building at Northfield Mount Hermon School “will be one of, if not the, most advanced arts building in New England.” Speculative comments about what has occurred since the writer graduated (p. 165; p. 192) may raise concerns that some of the observations are outdated or inaccurate.

A handy, accessible, relatively useful package.