Student reflection: Why I chose the Mountain School (F’13)

Coming to the Mountain School was challenging because I go to a public high school where not many students take advantage of these opportunities. I am the first one from my school to attend. I gave up the opportunity to take five AP classes, something that would make me especially competitive for college admissions, since I would be taking the “most rigorous coursework available.” It was a very difficult decision for me to make, since being able to even take those AP classes at my school is a very competitive process to begin with. I sought out the advice of many, and ultimately decided to follow my gut instinct, which was to attend the program. And when I presented this to my school, they were unsupportive. There were also many logistical and bureaucratic barriers that we had to loop through, since the program is not as well established at my school as it is as some other schools.

In retrospect, I’m glad I made the decision to attend the Mountain School. Junior year is a hellish year in high school, and spending part of it here in Vermont definitely alleviated that. This doesn’t mean that the academics here are easy (because they definitely are not). But being at the Mountain School, with a close-knit community of forty-four other students and a group of amazing faculty, allowed me to grow as a thinker, as a scholar, and as an individual.

I came to the Mountain School basically because I was getting bored of doing the same monotonous routine every day at my normal high school. I didn’t want my high school career to quickly pass by as I droned onward year after year. I was seeking change — a change that I knew required me to remove myself from my home school environment. I was also particularly interested in TMS because of its focus on environmental science, a field I am most passionate about.

Honestly, at the beginning, I was not sure what I would get out of being here. I had few expectations. Now that our semester is about to end, I find that as an individual I’ve grown drastically. I’m definitely far more introspective now, and basically think about what and how I think. Through thought-provoking classes like English, TMS has taught me to view the world — including my actions and the actions of others — with a critical eye. I know for certain that these are traits that would not have been cultivated had I not attended TMS. I’ve also gained a greater sense of responsibility. Alden’s discussions on “getting to know a place” at the beginning of the semester aren’t just meaningless mantras, as I initially believed. In a way, I feel more responsible, since I’ve seen how all the little things like feeding the laying hens, maintaining the boiler room, and cleaning the oft-neglected English classroom all contribute to the school functioning smoothly.

My advice for prospective students would be to visit. The school isn’t for everyone. I personally did not visit before applying, which had the potential to be a bad decision if I drove up in August and ended up hating the place. Also, I found it really helpful to talk to an adult about this. Explain why you want to go, what you’ll miss out on at the home school, but what you’ll also gain from being here. Someone that recommended you, assuming that this person knows you well, is a good place to start. You can also email me, . Good luck.

-Kevin Lin, F’13

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