Christopher Coleman is an eighth grade scholar at LEARN 6 North Chicago | Great Lakes. Here, he speaks about the process of getting into a #1 boarding school and how LEARN helped him.
How did you choose the high school you will attend?
I went to the five-week Phillips Exeter Access Summer Program in New Hampshire the summer before coming into eighth grade. It was based off of that program that made me want to go there for high school because I felt accepted there. It was mostly a feeling. Schools like Exeter that are all renowned for the amount of education that they provide and the rigorous work all have a lot in common. But there are little details that you pick up on when you experience that school and their students; when I was there, I knew it was the school for me.
The part of Exeter I liked the most was the diversity of thought. When you have students of different backgrounds from all over the world, you have diversity. But Exeter also has diversity of thought where people have different opinions and beliefs. One of the main methods of learning at Exeter is called Harkness. This is where students are teaching themselves instead of the traditional way of sitting at a desk and raising your hands. So students are going back and forth in discussion, learning from each other and building upon each others opinions. With diversity of thought, it stimulates the conversation so much more.
Tell me about the process to get into the high school that you wanted?
My high school process was very rigorous and long because I applied to ten different high schools. For most of the schools, I had to complete at a minimum five different essays. You shouldn’t speed through the process because your high school can determine your future, so you must put time and thought into each essay. For Exeter, their questions differed from the standard questions, which peaked my interest even more. They put a lot of emphasis on finding out about your character and leadership qualities along with your academics.
Ms. Gardner, our high school placement coordinator, introduced me to the five week summer program at Exeter and guided me so well through the entire application process. I am extremely thankful for her because she did such an amazing job. She works with the entire eighth grade, but for me, she helped me apply to the summer program and then helped me apply to high school there.
She also helped us in other ways. We had mock interviews where we wore formal clothes and met with professionals from the community and practiced giving answers to questions. She would also give us advice with our essays when applying to high schools. She made sure that we were writing our essays, not our parents or anyone else. When we asked her questions, she would not tell us what to say but would critique us in what we could do better. She always encouraged us to write from the heart.
What are you most excited for going into high school?
To experience a boarding school. At first it was nerve-wracking to be so many miles from home in a place full of strangers (that would become my peers), and it seemed like a foreboding process. But after experiencing the five week program, which was one of the most exciting experiences I have ever had in my life, I knew I would like the experience of living and learning with others at a boarding school. I even still keep up with the roommate I had during the summer program. He was from Hong Kong so because of the time distance, we can only catch up late at night!
Where do you want to go to college after high school?
Harvard is the goal. After college, I want to become the state senator of Illinois. I don’t just want to be a politician, but also an entrepreneur of some type. I have already started initiatives in the community so that I can get my hands in politics. I helped our local sheriff, John Idleburg run, I met with the mayor to talk about creating a volunteer database, and I want to start an initiative between the police and students this year. All of this was done because I care about the community and I hope to get more experience in politics.
Anything else you want to share?
LEARN Charter has always been the home base for me. I don’t believe that I would have gotten into Exeter if not for LEARN. Everyone here inspires me, and I am so thankful that this school has been with us. I have seen the school grow and seen the school develop into something so big and committed to its students.
Chris received a full ride scholarship to attend Exeter in the fall.
Learn more about Exeter on their website www.exeter.edu.
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