well school students are well-prepared
March can be an unpredictable time in New Hampshire, with sudden changes from snow showers to warm spring breezes. During this time of transition, students on the campus of the Well School are eager to build dams on the muddy main path and dive deep into their projects for Science Fair. March is a time of anticipation and excitement as our 8th grade students wait to learn if they have been accepted into the high schools where they have applied. Receiving an acceptance letter—or a personalized acceptance video, as the Head of School at Dublin School, Brad Bates, likes to do—is exhilarating. Understanding that it’s time to consider yourself beyond the comfort of The Well School and imagine yourself as a high school student is both thrilling and a little scary!
It’s no small feat to achieve acceptance at an independent or private high school. Competition can be fierce and some schools accept very small numbers of new students each year. In a year such as 2019, when every Well School student that applied to an independent school was accepted at every school to which they applied—including Dublin School, The Putney School, Vermont Academy, High Mowing, The Winchendon School, and Derryfield School—it’s worth stopping to consider the journey of self-discovery that culminates in this accomplishment.
The process begins in the fall when families and students tour school campuses to get a feel for the schools they are considering. With guidance from Lori Weeks, our 8th grade teacher, they begin to hone in on schools that are the best fit for each individual student. The admissions process consists of student essays, teacher recommendations, shadow days, interviews, and for most, financial aid applications. Meeting the deadline can be stressful, as most applications are due in the month of January. Once everything is submitted, the wait begins, and finally, in March the students are notified if they have been accepted.
What are high schools looking for in a student? Most schools to which our students have applied mention that Well School students stand out because of their communication skills and their character. Dave Hodgson, Director of Admissions at Vermont Academy shared his perspective: “I love working with Well School applicants in the admissions process. Students from the Well School are always intellectually curious, well-rounded students who I know will be active participants in our community.” It’s no secret that our students are held to high expectations, both in the classroom and on campus, and that we believe in scaffolding their academics with social-emotional growth to help them stretch beyond their comfort zone. We want them to question the world around them and delve into self-reflection so that they have a better understanding of who they are as a person. These skills that we have come to label as a “well-rounded student” show in their interviews at high schools. Well School students spend years developing their public speaking skills. Whether it is a poetry recital, play performance, or science fair presentation, practicing speaking in front of others and engaging a stranger in a conversation help build confidence and lay the foundation for lifelong communication skills.
Building character takes time; it is not done in one year, it is the culmination of the journey at The Well. By the time a student reaches their eighth grade year, they are prepared learners, not only for classrooms, but for the lifetime of learning that lies ahead.
Where do Well School graduates go after 8th grade?
About half of our students who graduate from 8th Grade go on to private high schools and half attend local public high schools. We have a very personalized counseling process in the 8th Grade year to help students and their parents choose their next school as well navigate the application and transition processes. You can view our high school and college matriculation list here.