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Welcome, Future Exonians!

March 10, 2014

“This admissions season was the most selective in my 12 years at the Academy,” says Director of Admissions Michael Gary. “The admitted boys and girls are an enthusiastic, accomplished, creative and diverse group who come from around the world to learn at Exeter. I’d like to thank the many talented students who applied. This year we were unable to admit as many new students as in previous years due to current class enrollments.” Exeter received 2,325 applications from 34 states and 26 countries. 435 students were offered admission. “We’ve offered approximately $7.9M in scholarship aid to our new families to make this educational option as affordable as possible,” Gary says.

An 8th-grade pianist from Massachusetts loves playing hockey – on girls and boys teams. “I have played in Canada with girls who speak only French, traded T-shirts in Sweden with girls from Russia, and in the summer shared a team logo with girls who wear archrival jerseys in the winter,” she writes. In her 5th and last season with a highly competitive boys team, she received the “unsung hero” award for giving 110%. She’s discovered that when learning seems hard, when everything is “shades of gray,” it pays to loosen up and have some fun. “I now realize that when I worry too much about finding the ‘right’ answer, I could miss the most important part of the lesson.”

“Singing in different countries and cultures around the world has helped me to see how music can bridge the gap between struggling communities and thriving populations,” says an 8th-grader, a soloist and 1 of only 2 Americans in the 100-member Vienna Boys’ Choir. This highly committed musician, who starred as Miles in North Carolina Opera’s production of The Turn of the Screw at the age of 10, did not speak a word of German when he moved to Austria without his family in 6th grade. “I couldn’t decipher what my teachers, conductors and peers were saying; they were spitting out 10-syllable words which sounded like something out of a science fiction movie,” he writes. He rose to the challenge through immersion and willpower, and now reads, writes, thinks and “even dreams in German.” His passion for singing “has led to a realization that I can help people by doing something I love.”

Welcome Exonians from Phillips Exeter Academy

A 10th-grader thinks Clif Bars are delicious – so delicious she developed her own recipe through trial and error so she could make them at home. She also wrote a novel and published 2 short stories in Cricket magazine as a middle schooler. But her real passion is math. When working with her dad on a physics problem during freshman year, she asked “the question that would change me forever: ‘Dad, what exactly is calculus?’ ” She took to learning calculus “like a cellulose sponge,” says her mother, and mastered it on her own – often secretly solving calculus problems in the back of Algebra II class. “Normal math classes force you to learn passively. . . . Learning independently allowed me to learn actively.” Her sights are on Harkness and beyond: “Even the most perfect protein bar won’t help me understand the inner workings of the universe, so my career as a chef is indefinitely on hold.”

One visionary applicant, when he was in 6th grade, founded a nonprofit designed to help elementary and middle schoolers improve their math skills through free tutoring. When demand took off, and he needed to expedite the registering, scheduling and tracking of students and tutors, he taught himself to program using HTML, PHP, SQL and JavaScript, so that he could develop the KidsTeachKids website. “After hundreds of hours, my perseverance helped push me through the final barrier and was born,” says this Texan. In 8th grade, he co-invented a “mind-reading” bionic glove for finger amputees called IntentSense. The 2 inventors presented their product at a TEDx Talk at Southern Methodist University and published a paper about the project in conjunction with the Advanced Mechatronic Systems 2013 International Conference. In his spare time, this future prep plays badminton, racquetball, composes “a few melodies,” and serves on the USA Junior Mathematical Olympiad team.

“Marabou chocolate makes me almost as happy as helping other people,” writes a rising lower from Stockholm, Sweden. Driven by “an urge to learn” according to her parents, this student government  president loves tutoring younger children, and has always been eager to make a difference. “As a kid, I would make little ant tracks in our garden where the little insects could travel safely without suffering apprehension of being trampled by careless humans,” she says. Now that she’s older, her voracious approach to learning and love for others shows through in her humorous admissions application essay titled: “You Think You Know Everything Until You Know Even More.”

“With every fall, you stand up with a bigger push,” says a 9th-grader from Bogotá, Colombia, who has attended 8 different schools in her young life. “Along the way, me, myself and I have learned to love being the new kid in school.” She looks forward to having new adventures at Exeter, and joining others in collaborative discovery. 

To learn more about Exeter, check out Big Red Bloggers. Exeter students are busy posting photos and stories that describe what it’s like to be an Exonian. You can read about life in the dorms, the best places to hang out on campus, what a New England winter is like, sports, classes, and what it feels like as the term comes to a close.

And don’t forget about the PEA Admissions “Ask An Exonian” Facebook page – it’s a great place to ask questions and get answers.

We’re eagerly looking forward to the arrival of next year’s unique and talented Exonians.

“If the class gets quiet one of us will ask, ‘Is this an awkward silence or a thoughtful silence?’ “ says Tierra of her English class, where she tackles texts with classmates around the Harkness table. Discover how Tierra – who plays the cello, dances in Exeter’s girls step dance troupe and loves math – thrives in Exeter’s diverse culture. More


“I’m learning more than I ever learned in my whole life. Not just about classes, but about life, values and choices,” says Tony. Learn more about Tony – who loves soccer and basketball, thinks physics is cool and enjoys dorm life. More



“Normally if you make a mistake, you think it will have a negative impact,” says Millie. “But mistakes in Harkness help everyone.” Discover why this avid field hockey player loves Harkness math and decided to take Russian for the fun of it. More


— Nicole Pellaton