Summer warmup

Incoming prep Angela Zhang '23 brings valuable lessons from Exeter Summer program into fall term. 

Adam Loyd
August 5, 2019
Exeter student Angela Zhang  in the front of the Academy Building

More than 700 Exeter Summer students from 38 states and 50 countries bid farewell to campus earlier this month at the conclusion of the five-week program. For a handful of students, including Angela Zhang '23, it was not “goodbye,” but rather, “see you soon.”

Structured around an innovative curriculum, dorm living and Harkness discussions, Exeter Summer gives students the opportunity to make lasting connections within a diverse community while serving as a sampling of what life is like on campus during the regular session. 

Set to enroll at the Academy in September as a prep, Angela Zhang parlayed her Exeter Summer opportunity into an orientation for what she can expect in the fall term. Zhang participated in ACCESS EXETER, a program within Exeter Summer designed specifically for soon-to-be eighth- and ninth-graders. 

The New Jersey native says she was interested in attending the summer session for the opportunity to explore campus, become accustomed to living alone and to experience the Harkness method. After completing the program, Zhang says getting to know the layout of the Academy and practicing self-reliance has given her confidence heading into the regular session. 

“I know my way around campus, which will help make the transition much smoother,” she says. “I will be prepared for living on my own and managing my time responsibly.”

She credits the adults in the dorm for making her first extended stay away from home a good experience. 

“The advisers in the dorm were all very supportive and willing to help anyone who needed it,” she says. 

A highlight for Zhang was the chance to collaborate with fellow students, especially in STEM courses.

“My favorite part of the of the term was being able to work on projects with classmates who are as passionate and devoted to the topic as I am,” she says. 

Central to the Exeter Summer curriculum is an introduction to the Harkness method. Zhang says she was somewhat familiar with discussion-based learning having previously participated in Socratic seminars. After a month of Harkness practice, she appreciates that, unlike Socratic seminars, every student has the ability to participate in the conversation. She also likes that, while guided by instructors, the direction of the discussion is up to her and her classmates. 

“I enjoyed being encouraged to think for myself and learning from my peers while still having the support of my teachers,” she says. 

With her Exeter Summer experience in the books, Zhang is already looking forward to two weeks from now when she’ll return to campus as a full-time student.

“I’m very excited to meet new people from all over the world and learn with them in the same setting,” she says.