Thursday, March 31, 2016

Where They’re Going and, More Important, Who They’ll Be

Just as high school students across the country are learning where they will attend college, so students who have elected to apply to independent secondary schools are discovering their options for next year. And despite horror stories about how competitive the admissions scene has become, particularly at the college level, the news is good for current and former Country School students.

We don’t know where they will ultimately elect to go, but secondary school acceptances include the following list of excellent schools:

     Williams School (6)
     Choate Rosemary Hall (4)
     Saint George’s (3)
     The Gunnery (3)
     Holderness (3)
     Hopkins (2)
     Kimball Union Academy (2)
     Pomfret (2)
     Tabor Academy (2)
     Westminster School (2)
     Xavier (2)
     Berkshire School (1)
     Brooks School (1)
     Burke Mountain Academy (1)

     Canterbury (1)
     Cheshire Academy (1)
     Collegiate School (VA) (1)
     Emma Willard (1)

     Ethel Walker (1)
     Governor’s Academy (1)
     Green Mountain Valley (1)
     Groton (1)
     Hamden Hall (1)
     Hotchkiss (1)
     Kent (1)
     Loomis Chaffee (1)
     Millbrook (1)
     Miss Porter’s (1)
     Phillips Academy Andover (1)
     Saint Gertrude's (VA) (1)
     Stoneleigh Burnham (1)
     Taft (1)
     The Trinity School (VA) (1)

This list is particularly impressive when you consider that several of these schools are reporting record high numbers of applicants and record low acceptance rates.

Likewise at the collegiate level, where every day brings another article about what some have called the college admission arms race*, the news has been excellent for Country School alumni. At this stage, we’ve only heard from – or about – a handful of former students, but among the schools we know our alumni gained admission to this year are: 
     Bryant (2)
     Harvard (2)
     Northeastern (2)

     Union (2)
     Arizona State University (1)
     Bard (1)
     Bates (1)
     Bentley (1)

     Boston University (1)
     Catholic University of America (1)
     Champlain College (1)
     Clemson (1)
     College of Charleston (1)
     Dickinson (1)
     Fairfield (1)
     George Washington (1)
     Hamilton (1)

     Ithaca (1)
     Kenyon (1)
     Massachusetts Maritime Academy (1)
     Middlebury (1)
     Penn State (1)
     Pomona (1)
     Quinnipiac (1)
     Salve Regina (1)

     Trinity (1)
     Tulane (1)
     University of Connecticut (1)
     University of Maryland (1)
     University of Massachusetts (1)

     University of Miami (1)
     University of Rhode Island (1)
     University of San Francisco (1)
     University of Texas (1)
     University of Vermont (1)
     Yale (1)

Again, this list is impressive, particularly when you consider that some of these schools are reporting admission rates hovering around 5 or 6 percent.

Since many of our students spend many more years at The Country School than at their secondary schools, we take great pride in where they attend college and how they do once they get there. But even as I share these lists, I do so with some trepidation, because – to quote the title of Frank Bruni’s recent book about the college admission race – “Where you go is not who you'll be." (The full title of the book, published last year by the New York Times columnist, is Where You Go is Not Who You’ll Be: An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania.)

Recently a former Country School parent told us she had been in the audience during college counseling weekend at Phillips Exeter, where her daughter is a junior, when Mr. Bruni delivered the keynote address. He shared several messages that proved calming for an understandably anxious crowd, but for this former Country School parent, one point particularly hit home.

Citing research done on something called the "thriving index" (learn more), Mr. Bruni said the true determinants of a college graduate's long-term well-being had very little to do with WHERE he or she went to school but rather HOW he or she experienced college. Among the criteria that were critical in determining a positive outcome were the answers to the following questions. In college, did the student:

1)      Have a mentor?
2)      Have an inspiring professor?
3)      Have extracurricular experiences he or she was excited about?
4)      Engage in a meaningful long-term project?

"What struck me as I listened to Mr. Bruni," the parent told us, "was that my child had been fortunate enough to have those conditions met well before college. In fact, they've been in place during her entire school career, starting with her years at The Country School." 

And so I share these acceptance lists, or measurable outcomes, with a caveat: Regardless of WHERE our students go on to school, what really matters is HOW they do it. 
Mentors. Inspiring teachers. Engaging extracurriculars. Meaningful long-term projects. Research tells us that those are the things that ultimately matter. And at The Country School, these are the things we will continue to put in place, front and center.

I particularly like this excerpt from Mr. Bruni's book. He is describing college, but insofar as his words echo our Mission Statement, he might as well be talking about The Country School:

“College is a singular opportunity to rummage through and luxuriate in ideas, to give your brain a vigorous workout and your soul a thorough investigation, to realize how very large the world is and to contemplate your desired place in it.” 

* For anyone interested in reading more about the college admissions scene and some of the changes that may be forthcoming, here are a few recent stories:

P.S. Alumni, if you have updates regarding college placement, please let us know! Email your news to

For a list of where our alumni have elected to attend high school and college in recent years, see Life After TCS from the school website.


  1. We are still collecting information about where our students will attend high school and college next year, but as of today (April 5, 2017) we have learned that Country School alumni be freshman at: Boston College, Columbia, Duke, Middlebury, the University of Michigan, and Yale. We will update as we get more information, although - as Frank Bruni said so wisely - "Where you go is not who you'll be."

  2. More news: We are still collecting information but as of April 9, 2017, we have heard that Country School alumni gained admission to the following colleges: Columbia (2), Yale (2), Boston College (1), Carleton College (1), Colorado College (1), Duke (1), Middlebury (1), the University of Michigan (1)

  3. Add Georgetown's School of Foreign Service and Clemson to the list!