I was playing basketball—okay, correction, I was playing with a basketball but what I was doing could not be generously called ‘basketball’—with several of our students recently. One student—a senior—noted that my job would be pretty easy: “Wayland is incredible, that’s obvious. I knew that as soon as I saw it.”
Of course, now it is harder than ever to see campuses like Wayland and to experience the communities we create. But what you might want to look for, and what we in the Admissions office are looking for to build a safe, fun, college-bound home? That’s timeless.
I needed only go to our recent Virtual Homecoming event to be reminded. The Class of 1990 regaled me with stories that confirmed what we always knew: high school students will go to great lengths for pizza and this is a place that makes friends for life. And while it is ever-tempting to contemplate looking at boarding schools like buying a car—there are no amount of numbers and factoids that can shout: ‘you will be at home here, and you will be pushed here’. I’ve come to realize if you can have both—comfort and challenge—you can make almost anything possible. (It has certainly been enough to nourish me.)
With that in mind, here are some questions to ask as you browse boarding schools:
Will I be challenged here? Often, we’re asked how many Advanced Placement courses we offer—23, in fact—but AP alone is hardly the only way independent college-prep schools ensure you get an education that gets you seriously thinking. We’re focused on what you need and what you’re looking for—Honors, AP, or College-Prep.
Will I have fun here? You should expect and seek out smiles, laughs, and opportunities to really enjoy yourself. We have 13 sports and over 30 clubs that we think are a great way to start having fun. Most importantly, there is room for everyone and any way you can think of to enjoy yourself on campus.
What does college-prep really mean anyway? Hint: it doesn’t mean just getting in to college. Sure, it helps if you can go to school on a beautiful campus that PBS compared to a small college, but preparing for college is about being ready for the opportunity and responsibility that awaits. We have two college counselors that work with every student (an amazingly small ratio guaranteeing you that all your burning questions get a speedy answer), but for us, it’s so much more than the end result—college-prep begins in our 9th grade Humanities course as you learn to work together, research from primary sources, and write convincingly with data.
Who is this all for? Answer: you. Back in the early days of COVID-19 in the US, there were many questions to answer about nearly every facet of life at Wayland. And for nearly the first time ever, we operated Wayland away from our 65-acre campus. But it was an odd reminder that however beautiful the sound of the bells from Kimberly Chapel may be, Wayland lives on in every student and faculty member. We got back to campus this fall—masks and frequent hand-washing now part of the life here and on most campuses—and as we gathered for assemblies, hunted for Ms. Estervig’s Golden Tickets, and took in movies on Brown Field, I have been reminded that the guiding principle at Wayland is a healthy and happy student-driven community.
Those questions may seem hard to ask in a Zoom call, but I hope you can. And while we’re eager to welcome visitors like you back to campus, 9 weeks in to the semester, I’m pleased that what makes Wayland a special way to spend your high school years still awaits you when you get here.