Phillips Exeter Student Has A Great Answer When Asked If His Prestigious Prep School Is Elitist

A Quora user recently asked which is more “elitist” — prestigious New Hampshire boarding school Phillips Exeter Academy or Parisian prep school Lycée Louis-le-Grand?

Some of the questions that were asked about Exeter included, “Are there students who think that some classmates are not worth talking to because of what ZIP code they grew up in?” and “Do teachers hand back tests to students while announcing their grades to the entire class so one can be made fun of by the entire class for being stupid?”

Quora user and current Exeter student Kevin Zhen had an awesome answer as to what makes his school so great. With his permission, we’ve reprinted it below:

The simple answer to most of these questions is No.

My name is Kevin Zhen and I am a lower, or sophomore who currently attends Phillips Exeter Academy. I believe that although Exeter is renowned for being an elite prep school with amazing students from across the globe, it is still a high school. I myself am on complete financial aid, and sometimes people inquire about home and whether or not you pay to go here, but for the most part, people generally ignore this fact and leave the question hanging in the air. Perhaps they would not like to know the answer, or perhaps they already know, but in my personal experience, students, faculty and the people of Exeter have never really cared.

While I have heard of some cases of discrimination from time to time, these cases are rare and few and are often frowned upon by the Academy. So to further answer your questions, I will provide you with two stories.

My hometown is Miami, Florida and over this past winter break, many of the flights, if you recall, were held up because of weather and plane problems. My flight had been cancelled and I was expecting to get back to school a week after it started, which would put me seriously behind. But, a friend of mine, a particularly wealthy Exonian, who I shall be unnamed, phoned me to let me know that she could provide accommodations. Surprised and delighted, I asked more about it and she let me know that she had invited a couple Exonians on her private jet from Florida to New Hampshire. Once we arrived, another parent would pick us up and send us to school from the airport. This student is a girl who shared the difficulties of ap chem with me and who participates in debate club with me as well and whose kind-hearted soul will never be forgotten by me. When she called me, I didn’t even know she was an “elite.” She appears usually casual, and doesn’t wear rich white girl clothes, but instead is a peer and ally in the cold winters.

My second story is about broken boots and financial aid. In the middle of the winter, I was disappointed to find that my boots had broken. The tips of them had cracked and the heels were beginning to fall apart, and when I stepped in puddles the water seeped through the cotton and my socks to freeze my feet. Walking to class, I would receive pitiful looks and people would always remind me to get new books. However, the financial situation back home is very tight and I didn’t want to bother my parents by asking them for more money. So instead, I wrote an article in the Exonian, reminding kids of the financial diversity that comes along with the cultural and social diversity of its students and faculty, of course. Within one week, I had received emails and messages from teachers and students and even my own parents were crying, with a little shame that I had felt this way. But, my kind financial aid advisor, Mr. Hutchins, offered to buy me new boots and within a week, I had brand-new comfy L.L. Bean shoes on my feet.

Here at Exeter, there is an important concept called non sibi, which simply means not for oneself in Latin. Maybe these stories touched you, or maybe they just sounded like someone being in the right time at the right place, but what I can tell you with assurance is that Exeter is not an elitist place. Teachers do not condescend students and mock them. Students do not condescend students and mock each other.

In all honesty, Exeter is a chill place. Come here to see old people and curious student and good people.

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