Prep School? What do you think of when you hear that? Well, if you are anything like us, you may feel a little intimidated by the thought of Prep School. However, the founders of Tridonis first heard about Prep School through a family friend, who was sending their son to a school in Connecticut not only for the educational benefit, but also for the athletic benefit the school provides to their students.
For more times than not, the idea of sending your child away to prep school has been shrouded by connotations that misinterpret these fine establishments. Many people believe Prep Schools or “boarding schools” are only for either the extremely wealthy or the behavioral misfits. So, to give you a broader understanding of the world of Prep Schools, we caught up with Dan Driscoll, the Director of Athletics at Berkshire School in Sheffield, Massachusetts to discuss the advantages Prep Schools have to offer both academically and athletically.
How did you first find out about Prep Schools, in specific, New England prep schools?
I first discover the prep school world as a senior in high school when I decided to do a post graduate year before college.
How large is the Prep School community?
There are thousands of independent schools in the U.S., Canada and across the globe. The beauty of independent schools is that they each have their own mission and culture. Finding the one that meets your needs takes some time but there is a school for everyone.
Are Prep Schools only limited to high school?
There are pre prep schools that begin in the 6th grade and many independent high schools offer a postgraduate year which is in essence a bridge year before you go off to college. PG”s have already graduated from high school but take the extra year for a variety of reasons from boosting their standardized tests scores, to growing as an athlete or to enhance their transcript for the college admissions process.
What are repeat years and how many can you do?
The trend in many areas is that kids will enter a boarding school repeating the school year the just finished. So if you finished 9th grade at your local high school, you would enter the boarding school as a 9th grader as well. This is done for a variety of reasons. Some choose to gain extra year in their physical development for athletics others for academic reasons. If you think about it, it is a great idea for just about anyone for the move away from home, to a new and sometimes more rigorous academic environment along with competing on new teams and meeting new friends is a big jump. Taking the extra year does not mean you will repeat the same courses but you may be more familiar with the content of the material you are seeing in the classroom each day….this makes the transition go smoother and you also are able to take a few extra classes that will enhance your transcript for the college process.
What grades are you allowed to repeat?
In most schools you can enter at any grade, 9, 10, 11 or PG.
What sort of recognition do prep schools receive not only academically, but also athletically?
I think the biggest benefit in attending the right school for you is the investment you receive from your coaches and teachers. Class sizes are smaller, your coach may also be your history teacher or dorm parent and you get to see them, and they get to see you, in many different types of environments. Additionally, you are in an environment that is designed to help you grow in every aspect of your life and the adults in that community are driven to see you succeed. This type of investment creates a culture of success. Our goal is to help you to develop the foundation for this future success by putting you into situations where you can be challenged and ultimately succeed.
As a student, what sort of skills do you receive from Prep Schools outside of the classroom and athletic competition?
A greater sense of independence and responsibility. The daily schedule of a boarding school is rather structured but having the chance to schedule your day, and manage your time accordingly prepares kids for college and beyond.
As Berkshire School’s athletic director, what sort of advantages do Prep School athletes have over other student athletes around the country?
World class facilities and world class coaches who are devoted to not only making you the best player you can be, but also the best person you can be. Your coach may be your history teacher and dorm parent as well….you get to see them in many different roles and they you, this enables the coach/player relationship to grow in many ways. Additionally, you will have time to train and even play other sports which develops an athleticism that will only enhance your ability in you chosen sport
What does it take to be a prep school athlete?
At Berkshire we look for students with great character who are passionate about learning and improving on the field and off. Most of our students are in the A/B range in school and school in the upper third of standardized testing. We look for kids who are going to contribute to our community and make it better, both in the classroom and on the fields or on the stage etc.
What sort of colleges look at Prep Schools student athletes?
All types, from the Ivies to major Division 1 and 3 institutions.
What advice would you give to parents that are looking to send their children to Prep School?
I would suggest that they take a look at 4 or 5 schools after doing a bit of research at home. Do you want a big school or small? Rural or urban, extremely rigorous academically or more supportive? I would then reach out to the coaches and admission office and set up a visit. The visit will play a crucial role as it will allow you to get a feel for the culture of each school, and everyone is different. Finding the one that matches the values that you and your family share will allow for a transformational educational opportunity.
Who are some notable athletes that have come from the Prep School community?
There has been hundreds of kids who have gone on to great success in college and professionally. In recent years at Berkshire we have had the number one player taken in the MLS draft in Jack Harrison to Kevan Miller a very successful defensemen on the Boston Bruins…Kendall Coyne, the best female hockey player in the country and US team member is also a Berkshire alum.
To learn more about The Berkshire School visit their website here.