Unlike many other people, I look back at my time in high school with great fondness. As a quiet kid, the sense of community and the individual attention offered by the staff and faculty at Stanstead were priceless when it came to my development. As a day student, my experience differed from that of a boarding student. In some ways I had it easier and can't speak to the hurdles faced by some students who would experience being away from home for the first time. In others, being a day student could be difficult when you felt like you were trying to manage being a part of two communities at once. Luckily, Stanstead placed a great emphasis on ensuring each and every member of the community had ample opportunity to belong. Stanstead offers so much potential for anyone willing to be open to personal growth, and I would absolutely recommend it as a wonderful, challenging, and rewarding environment for your formative years.
Leadership during my time at Stanstead was strong, and engaging. The community that was fostered there allowed for students to build relationships with the faculty that extended beyond the classroom, fostering confidence and trust. I believe this dynamic also instilled a sense of respect for leadership that is not reflected in every institution. Student leadership was also important, most obviously reflected in the yearly appointment of prefects. Students chosen to be prefects were given the opportunity to pursue greater personal growth through recognition of their achievements as well as added responsibility and higher expectations that they will need to expect should they plan on excelling in the future.
Teachers were very involved in the academic success and well-being of their students. Small class sizes allowed for greater attention to individual students, and I can't think of one of my teachers who would not have been willing to offer extra assistance outside of regular class hours if it was needed. In addition, my understanding is that tutoring services were readily available when needed, and teachers would help you set up services and communicate with your tutor to help you achieve your best possible results. All of my instructors were knowledgeable, and fair--but also held their students to a high level of accountability which I feel left me well-prepared for higher education. The classroom setting was expected to be respectful, and efficient--but most teacher's also left room for fun and did their best to incorporate enjoyment into the learning process.
Stanstead is a very small town on the Quebec-Vermont border. While students do venture off school property their options are pretty limited to the ice cream shop, convenience store, grocery store etc. That being said, the campus and surrounding areas are very picturesque, and the school offers a number of regular activities to keep students engaged, and focused within this beautiful environment.
I would definitely suggest taking a tour if it's an option for you. The campus has a lot of character that you can only appreciate by being there, not to mention that having a place be familiar to you gives you such a head start in settling in when you attend! My path through admissions was somewhat eased by the fact that I was a day-student, and lived locally. I remember everyone being very friendly, and welcoming. There was a standardized-style test, but the admissions counselor was very nice about everything and it was not a stressful process. They were very willing to answer questions, and offering suggestions for activities offered that they believed would compliment my interests. They also asked a lot of questions to me directly, which made me feel as though they were interested in getting to know who I was as an individual.
Stanstead is a prep school. To put it bluntly, if University is not the plan Stanstead is probably not the correct educational choice. It also does not have the courses, or facilities, available for someone interested in learning about, or entering a trade field. As a prep school, however, it offers an excellent education level that will set dedicated students up for a bright future. Courses are challenging, thorough, and hold students to a high level of accountability. Competitiveness between students really varied by social group, though the competitiveness I did witness was of a healthy nature. The small number of students at the school does limit the number of subjects offered, however clubs and organizations are also a large part of life at Stanstead and the faculty will work with students who are interested in pursuing subjects outside of the regular course offerings.
Extracurricular involvement is a large, and mandatory, aspect of life at Stanstead. When I attended both sports and clubs were mandatory each semester, with Wednesday's being a half-academic day to allow for additional physical activity. Students who excelled, or showed great leadership or dedication as a sportsman were acknowledged--allowing another outlet for personal growth, achievement, and responsibility outside of pure academia. Clubs were varied, and there were usually one or two new options each year as students connected with a faculty member about a shared interests. When I attended, Stanstead was also part of an organization that ran regional and international student conferences each year. Youth from around the world could meet to attend presentations, discuss global issues, and connect with others from differing walks of life. For those able to partake, this was a great opportunity for exploration.
The student body is definitely small. When I attended we averaged around 200 students, though I believe that has increased. Personally, I feel that this small size is beneficial in the sense of community it allows. Once you've been there a few months you will know everyone's name--no one will be a total stranger. The student body is also very diverse, with students coming from many backgrounds and countries. This diversity can be very beneficial to exposing students to new ways of thinking and preparing them to live and succeed in a global world.
I very much enjoyed my time at Stanstead. After I became a prefect and began spending more time on campus outside of my standing commitments, I found myself wishing that I had begin spending additional free time there much earlier--hindsight! The more you engage with the community the easier it will be to find your place in it, and the more you will enjoy your time there. Like many other things, you will get out of Stanstead what you contribute and attitude counts for a lot.
After I got engaged I brought my now-husband to the campus during one of our visits home. I'd brought him to see a few other places in my hometown and Stanstead felt like one of those important places. I think for a lot of people, after you leave it stays with you as more than just a place you went to school. It becomes a part of your story. I haven't kept in any significant contact with any other students, but I do occasionally touch base with some of my former-teachers. That being said, I do keep an eye on updates on facebook or through the alumni organization. Even though i'm no longer in contact with a lot of people, we still had a shared experience and it's nice to see how people are doing.
At the time I felt the University Counseling program was good. I felt very supported through my SAT's, and University selection process. I felt that I was able to have some very frank discussions about my placement chances, and what I could do to better my chances. They were also very receptive to what I wanted, and weren't focused on just telling me where to go. Now that I am (more than) several years out of University the above all stands true, however I wish the discussions about college and, more importantly, long term career aspirations had started earlier. University is a very big unknown if you've never been, just as the process of turning a goal into a degree and then into a rewarding career is. In addition to starting earlier, I think there should be conversations about what they want to do after they graduate involved in the process to encourage ongoing, long-term critical thinking as a part of the planning process.