Families walking in the fall
Dana Harbert, Director of Admission

A Comprehensive Guide to Admission Questions and School Life

Tips on navigating the admission process to ensure a smooth transition for prospective students and their families.

Several years ago, I created a list of twenty questions that seemed to be the most often asked questions by students and their parents either over the phone or when they visited Eagle Hill School (EHS) for their interview and tour of campus. We put this list of questions on our website and have found that families benefit from having these answers available to them generally prior to their visit. After rereading these questions and answers, I thought it might be helpful to create a narrative that highlights some of what I wrote. Additionally, I’ve added a few new questions to the list and have more thoroughly answered some of the questions based on follow-up questions from parents and students. 

Applying to EHS

It became clear to me as well that the question of who should apply to Eagle Hill School wasn’t in the list of twenty questions but instead was addressed in other sections of the EHS website. This is typically a question that is asked and addressed prior to a visit to campus, so I think it is important to include this answer here. Who should apply to EHS? Applicants to Eagle Hill School should have average to above-average cognitive ability as measured by the WISC, WAIS, or Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Cognitive Abilities. Eagle Hill works with some students who display relative weaknesses in processing speed and/or working memory. At Eagle Hill School, an education begins with the fundamental belief that all students must be understood as individuals. With an average class size of six students, learning is individualized and tailored to meet the specific learning needs of each student.

At Eagle Hill School, an education begins with the fundamental belief that all students must be understood as individuals.

Diverse Education, Tailored Excellence

Eagle Hill offers instruction at the foundational level in the areas of written expression, reading, and math, while also providing a full array of challenging and interesting courses. Eagle Hill School utilizes specific reading approaches, small classes, honors coursework, the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme, and multi-sensory teaching strategies to meet the diverse learning needs of our students. At the same time, Eagle Hill offers an extensive catalog of classes in the traditional academic subjects as well as the arts, engineering and design, physical fitness, and pragmatics. Eagle Hill works with students identified with ADHD, the inattentive subtype. Additionally, Eagle Hill School can provide a program for students who are distractible and/or inattentive or who have difficulty with executive function skills. The ideal candidate is bright, motivated, and interested in preparing for college and life beyond.

Finding Success

Students who find success at Eagle Hill have often struggled academically in previous school settings. Eagle Hill works with students with diverse learning profiles, and students are understood as individuals whose paths to success will be unique. They achieve success both academically and personally with the support of the faculty as they develop confidence, self-advocacy, and overall wellness. At Eagle Hill, we feel it is important to work with the whole child and that students who are away from home during their teenage years need to continue their social development while they are at school. We provide a nurturing and structured environment.

At Eagle Hill, we feel it is important to work with the whole child and that students who are away from home during their teenage years need to continue their social development while they are at school.

And while we are talking about who does well at Eagle Hill School, let’s briefly mention profiles that don’t work particularly well at EHS. These include students who display significant hyperactivity, impulsivity, or difficulty with self-control and those who have primary emotional, social, or behavioral issues. Eagle Hill candidates are emotionally healthy, and, once enrolled, are willing to work closely with the faculty and put in the effort to become successful students.

A Robust Athletics Program

Many students are interested in the sports that are offered at EHS, and during the student interview they often ask about our sports program. At EHS, over 80% of students participate in at least one sport, and over 50% of students are three-sport athletes. Fall sports include rowing, cross-country running, boys’ soccer, girls’ soccer, and girls’ volleyball. Winter sports are boys’ basketball, girls’ basketball, swimming, wrestling, and squash. Spring sports include rowing, golf, lacrosse, tennis, and ultimate Frisbee.

The Structured School Day

Another student-asked question has to do with the class day; the school day begins with class at 8:45 a.m. and ends at 3:15 p.m. Breakfast is served every morning between 7:20 a.m. and 8:40 a.m., and we have Common Prep period each morning except Wednesday from 8:00 a.m. to 8:40 a.m. Common Prep can be used for a student to meet with his or her advisor, to get extra help from a teacher, to study in the library, or to talk with friends in the dining hall. Between 3:15 and 3:45 EHS provides an extra help/office hours period so that students can see teachers after school for extra help. It can be the teacher who requires a student to return after school for help or to work on an incomplete assignment, or it can be the student who wants to see his or her teacher for some extra help. Common Prep period and Office Hours are periods that are built into the class day in case a student needs extra help. At EHS, the average class size is six students to one teacher, and class sizes vary generally between four to eight students in a class.

Flexible Learning Paths

With respect to academics at EHS, students are scheduled into classes based on their age and grade level, their skill level, and their learning preferences. Scheduling takes place in August after a student and parents work with the student’s advisor. (Returning students meet with their advisors in the spring and choose their classes.) The course of study for each student is developed by the student, the student’s parents, the student’s academic advisor, and the teachers with whom the student is working. 

At EHS, curriculum means more than a standard menu of options based on grade or age. The very classes in which a student studies are often created collaboratively by students and teachers, and a student’s individual goals and needs provide the direction. Our nine-term academic year provides nearly infinite possibilities for students to craft their educational experiences. Additionally, no two students ever have the same schedule, and it would not be unusual for a student to take a reading tutorial and take Algebra II or Trigonometry. It would also not be unusual for a student in tenth grade to take Algebra I but also take advanced literature and writing classes.

When talking about the variety of classes offered in each subject area, a parent earlier this year asked what literature classes we are offering this year, and after a few minutes, I was able to recall all six classes. They are Masterpieces in Fantasy Literature, Modern Myths: The Afterlife of Classical Literature in Contemporary Culture, African American Literature, Literature and the Law, Masterpieces of Literature: Gothic and the Macabre, and The Modern Novel. Eagle Hill School offers three writing classes for underclassmen and a college-level writing class, Reading and Writing: Critical Analysis, for juniors and seniors.

Guidance to College Success

Many parents ask about the EHS college list and how students learn about applying to college. Eagle Hill School has three college counselors who begin to work with students in November of their junior year until they are accepted into schools in their senior year. Students also take a course at EHS called College Orientation, and this class helps students familiarize themselves with colleges and with the college application process. Ninety-seven percent of EHS students attend a four-year college after graduating, with one or two students taking a gap year.

After-School Life and Study Hall

The final question that I’d like to address in this blog has to do with life at EHS after classes let out, and the question is what is life like after 3:15 PM?  It’s a good question and the answer describes an important part of boarding school life. After school, unless students need extra help (during the extra help period from 3:15 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.), they typically return to their dorm rooms to get ready for after-school sports and activities. Sports practices begin at 4:00 p.m. and run until 5:30 p.m. Afternoon activities—such as playing dodgeball, hiking, swimming, using the climbing wall, yoga, working out in the fitness center, dance, and bike riding—run from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Following these activities, dinner runs typically from 5:45 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. In the evening there is flexible time from 6:30 p.m. to 7:55 p.m. This is students’ time to participate in clubs, attend play rehearsal, meet friends at the café in the library, use the golf simulator, play pickup basketball or squash games in the gym, hang out in the student union, or spend time in their dorm rooms. 

Study hall begins at 8:00 p.m., and students need to be ready to begin working promptly at 8:00 p.m. until they finish. Students attend study hall each night (Sunday through Thursday) from 8:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.  Dorm counselors and teachers monitor study hall, provide help when students need help, and check students’ work with their assignments on the student portal to be sure that students have completed their work. The goal of study hall is that students work in a quiet atmosphere with dorm parents and teachers available to answer questions. Bedtime is at 10:00 p.m. for grades 8, 9, and 10 and at 11:00 p.m. for grades 11 and 12. Students who have earned independent status do not have their homework checked. 

The Next Steps

For additional information about Eagle Hill School, please visit the school’s website at www.eaglehill.school. You can find a list of all the courses offered at EHS under Academics. The school calendar is available as well as a daily schedule, and there are countless videos, the sports schedules, pictures, etc.

The first step to get started is to complete an inquiry on the website. Once we receive an inquiry, our admission office will create a page for your child, and that is where we will upload your child’s application materials. If you’d like additional information, please email our admission team or call Eagle Hill School at 413-477-6000 and follow the prompts for the admission office. 

We look forward to meeting you!

What is Learning Diversity About?

Learning Diversity is a blog hosted by Eagle Hill School where educators, students, and other members of the LD community regularly contribute posts and critical essays about learning and living in spaces that privilege the inevitability of human diversity.

The contributors of Learning Diversity come together to engage our readers from a variety of disciplines, including the humanities, social sciences, biological sciences and mathematics, athletics, and residential life. Embracing learning diversity means understanding and respecting our students as whole persons.


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