REVIEW OF The Country Day School BY Alum, Vivien Zhang
- Date of Review
November 29, 2022
- Grades (year)
Gr. 9 - Gr. 12 (2017 - 2021)
- University (major)
University of Toronto (Economics)
(5) Overall Experience
Thanks to The Country Day School I was well-equipped heading into university. The courses I took in high school were stimulating and built a strong learning foundation for me, so I made an easy transition from grade twelve into my first year. A prospective student should expect that The Country Day School really tailors to your needs and learning style. They also encourage you to take ownership of your own learning – an important quality to have in university. But, because all of the staff and faculty are there to guide you through that personal growth, you feel well-supported. Thinking back on my experiences at CDS, I have very fond memories of my music trip to Europe, going to extracurriculars after school with friends and the St. Donat French trip, etc. This school has so many opportunities to learn outside of campus and get to know the world around you. Plus, the dining hall is superb!
(4.5) School Leadership
The administration at The Country Day School worked hard to ensure that all of the students were heard. They were strict in making sure that the school environment was one of inclusivity. If there were problems that needed to be addressed, they did so immediately and fairly. More confidential problems were handled delicately. The system was one that was compassionate and responsive to the feedback and concerns of students. I always felt like I could approach the administration with whatever problems I had – social or academic.
I was very happy with the quality of instruction. The dynamic between teachers and students was one of respect but less formal than what you would find in a larger school. In this way, I felt more comfortable sharing my thoughts and ideas in class. The teachers were passionate about their subjects to the point that it was contagious. I have not encountered the stereotypical monotone, 'I'm just here for my paycheck' teacher at this school. They all had distinct, big personalities and expressed that in their teaching. At the end of the year, the teachers would send out an anonymous survey to students asking for feedback and how they could improve the quality of the course. You can tell that they truly cared about our experiences.
The Country Day School valued education with balance. I always felt well-supported academically. Despite being a smaller school, students had options of different academic programs to choose from so there is freedom in that regard. For example, I took English, Math and Computer Science AP courses throughout my eleventh and twelfth years with a smaller group of students. The general atmosphere of the student body was not competitive. It was more of a supportive climate within the school where everyone focused on meeting their own learning goals and expectations. I felt challenged academically since my studies took up quite a large portion of my free time. It can get overwhelming at different points of the year, but teachers always made sure to accommodate any struggles we were having outside of school.
I was involved with quite a lot of extracurriculars. Because it is a smaller school, everyone had a place within the school and was able to pursue their interests. There was a wide range of activities you can do after school from varsity sports to the robotics clubs to the jazz band. There were also many extracurriculars like the fishing club which you wouldn't find at any other school.
Because there were not many students per grade, it was nice knowing everyone's names in your classes. In that way, the student body was very close-knit, especially in comparison to those in public schools. Once you had found your place in school, it was easy to make friends. The typical student would be somewhat academic, but very social. In terms of the range, I wouldn't say that there were students that stood out from the collective because they were different. Students at the school tended to be outgoing and involved in whatever they can be at school. Interactions between students were always friendly. At lunch, students sat at different tables and chatted with different people each day. The school was also quite strict about making sure that there weren't cases of bullying.
(5) School Life
I loved going to school and was very happy to choose The Country Day School for secondary education. I felt so familiar with the place it feels like a second home. I think the friends I've made and the teachers I've gotten to know really contributed to my quality of life. Students were generally happy but sometimes stressed when exam season came along. Most were passionate and sincerely wanted to do well in their courses. And most were able to do so because of all the resources that The Country Day School had to offer. Those that were disengaged were still pushed and encouraged to try their best by their teachers. But generally, students were full of life at the school and very, very happy.
The alumni community is so supportive of returning back to share their experiences and giving us tips on how to adjust to post-secondary life or choose careers. There were multiple courses where teachers had brought back alumni to connect with us. When I was on the fence about what program I should choose for post-secondary education, the director of admissions, Mr. Huckvale, put me in touch with an alumnus who was currently in the program I was very interested in enrolling in. Even today, I still reach out to her sometimes for some advice. I have kept up with students from the Country Day School. Even if I don't have the chance to see everyone's faces, I still hear great things about what they are up to from friends.
(5) School Location
The school location is spectacular. It is situated on quite a large piece of property so there's quiet and isolation. If students want some fresh air, they can take a walk through the trails in the Back 40. Students are not allowed to leave school grounds without permission unless they are in their eleventh or senior year. Then, they can sign out for lunch, or leave the school during their spares.
I recall that the admissions process was not very stressful. The most important parts of the application were grades and the interview you had to complete with the director of admissions. I entered Gr. 9 so I cannot speak on what admission is like before then. The admissions officers were very clear about what they needed from me in this process. I also attended an open house where they kindly gave me a tour of the school and student ambassadors alongside staff gave me a very thorough review of what student life and academics are like at the school. I also took the PSAT test but I've heard of students getting in without it in later stages of admission. But if you are planning to take that, and the admissions officers will let you know if you do, do study in advance.
(5) University placement and counselling
I felt very supported throughout my years in high school in this regard. I could book a counselling session whenever I needed to talk about whatever I needed. Since grade nine, the school was very involved in helping me explore career choices and recommending programs that would be of interest. In my last year, the director of university placement would reach out to the entire grade with very clear deadlines. He also sent us invitations to meetings to check in with us individually about what stage we are at in the application deadline. In this way, the school ensured that no one was left behind or felt a lack of support. There was sufficient guidance for students who wanted to go to universities out of the country as well.