Phillips Exeter Academy Admissions Guidance & Consulting
Phillips Exeter Academy Admissions Guidance
What is Exeter Looking For?
Collaboration. Exeter is a place where unique and inquisitive
minds come together, eager to question their own
preconceptions. The Harkness method of learning,
established in 1930 with a gift from Edward Harkness, is
integrated into every classroom and beyond. Twelve
students around the Harkness table take ownership of
teaching themselves and their classmates through
discussion, positing theories and posing questions guided
by one expert instructor. Applicants should be able to
demonstrate a strong sense of self-accountability and
curiosity required for this discussion-based learning.
What is collaboration in the eyes of Exeter?
Exeter candidates should be invigorated by the opportunity to challenge themselves. The classroom benefits specifically from the student body’s diverse ideas and experiences coming together with mutual respect. Perhaps the most productive moments stem from instances where students do not agree, which is when Exeter’s community standard of compassion and empathy allows for true development of ideas and deep growth in character. Exeter is looking for skilled students with advanced communication skills. With a 5:1 student to faculty ratio, Exeter requires students with strong relationships with both peers and adults. During the interview, applicants should convey a high level of maturity and emotional intelligence to establish their ability to thrive in the rigorous Exeter environment.
An emphasis on Goodness and Knowledge
Phillips Exeter Academy’s motto of Non-Sibi, not for one’s self, reflects the founding mission statement as defined by John Phillips over two hundred years ago, “…considering that though goodness without knowledge is weak and feeble, yet knowledge without goodness is dangerous and that both united form the noblest character, and lay the surest foundation of usefulness to mankind.” Exeter seeks students who have academic and extracurricular determination combined with a strong moral character. These traits maximize a student’s development during their years at Exeter and allow them to enact substantive change in their communities during and after their Exeter experience. During their time at Exeter, students have their pick of about 50 active service-oriented clubs on both the local and global scale. If your interest lies outside of one of these clubs, students are encouraged to found their own clubs and become leaders for change on campus.
How can you stand out to Exeter?
Academic enthusiasm. Exonians speak passionately and articulately about their studies with the grades and letters of recommendation to assure their academic prowess, critical thinking abilities, and communication skills.
Independence. Exeter is a place where students have nearly endless opportunities. There are over 450 courses to choose from, more than 90 active clubs, the ability to start your own clubs, nearly 60 Varsity or Junior Varsity teams, incredible Music and Theater buildings, the opportunity to spend a term or year studying abroad, and much more. Applicants need to be able to answer for themselves what they are most excited to continue pursuing, be excited to try new things and be able to set their own goals and priorities since there are only 24 hours in the day.
Grit. Ask any Exonian - you will face challenges during your time as a student, whether it be not receiving an A on a test for the first time despite dedicated studies, homesickness during your first weeks or months away from family, or not being the star ‘fill-in-the-blank’ anymore with so many talented peers. In the application or interview, it is critical for you to be able to clearly describe a significant challenge you overcame either by yourself or by seeking out help.
Youth from Every Quarter
Exeter has been dedicated to educating youth from every quarter since its founding in 1781. Talented and determined young minds come to campus from 44 states, 31 countries, and 6 continents, with 46% of students being students of color, and approximately 45% of the student body receives need-based financial aid each year. With a commitment to Diversity and Inclusion, students can attend a wide range of religious services or join one of the many affinity clubs on campus.
Applicants selected for admission to Exeter would have these academic credentials:
Top 10% of the class
Rigorous course load or independent work to supplement a less rigorous curriculum
ERB or ISEE scores in the 90th+ percentile
Glowing letters of recommendation from the past several years from his/her previous school
An earnest love for learning and commitment to building community
Examples of applicants with special talents at Exeter would be:
Exceptional math student, completing college-level courses
The team captain or star athlete
Talented musician or artist
Community service leader
Advanced computer scientist
This is the tip of the iceberg. For more information on how to approach applying to Phillips Exeter Academy, please contact us.
For more information about the private school application process,