For those parents who are thinking of sending their children for further education at a high school level in the US, then the Hotchkiss School should definitely not be overlooked, assuming that you can afford to pay a school tuition in the region of Baht 1.2 million per year. In this issue of Money & Wealth, the editor was lucky enough to be invited to the school reception, which was hosted by Khun Chutinant BhiromBhakdi, who attended the school in 1976, and Mr. William D. Leahy, Dean of Admission.
By any standards, Hotchkiss is one of only a handful of highly exclusive schools in the US that grooms young men and women for the very best (IVY League) universities. Moreover, not every school can boast a nine-hole golf course and a lake big enough for sailing activities as part of the school play ground. Located in the Berkshire hills overlooking the village of Lakeville, Connecticut, Hotchkiss was founded in 1891 (that's 113 years ago!) by Maria Harrison Bissell Hotchkiss in order to prepare young men for Yale University. Since then, it has grown into a co-educational school of 545 students. Hotchkiss, by design, is a small school when compared to similar schools in the same league such as Phillip Exeter, Andover and Chote. But this is one of its main strengths, small enough for the students to get the right kind of attention from the faculty members; in other words, a small school in a large school setting.
As one would expect from such a highly exclusive school, the facilities at Hotchkiss are truly impressive. 545 acres of school ground, 120 teachers for 555 students, which translates roughly into 1 teacher for every 5 students. There are ten dormitories with 17 sports being offered ranging from ice hockey to scuba diving and horseback riding. The 212,000 sq. ft sport centre is one of the biggest in Connecticut . Approximately 220 courses in 16 departments are offered at the school. The school's library has more than 85,000 books, including 6,000 video cassettes and access to more than 3,000 e-books. In a nutshell, this is the sort of school that offers the very best education that money can buy.
But having said that, it does not mean that wealthy parents can bank role their kids into Hotchkiss. What the school is looking for in its prospective students are children with good character and academic excellence.
The academic year at Hotchkiss is divided into two semesters, each of which has two marking periods. At the end of each marking period, grades are given and sent home. At the conclusion of each semester, these grades are supplemented by written comments from teachers, dormitory faculty and advisors. Only the final grade in each course is reported on student transcripts. The school uses letter grades, the scale of which is A+ to F. Most students enroll in 5 full-credit courses each semester. On occasion student will take more than 5 courses and seniors are permitted to take 4 courses as long as they complete their diploma requirements.
In order to qualify for a diploma, students must both earn a minimum number of credits and satisfactorily complete specific course requirements as follows:-
A student entering in the prep class must earn 17 credits
A student entering in the lower mid class must earn 13 credits
A student entering in the upper mid class must earn 9 credits
A student entering in the senior class must earn 4 credits
All students must complete 4 years of English
All students must complete Math through the 3 rd level
All students except entering seniors must take American History
Entering preps or lower mids must complete one year of the Arts (dance, drama, music, photography etc.)
Entering preps or lower mids must complete one year of a laboratory science
Entering preps or lower mids must complete a classic or modern foreign language
The average class size at Hotchkiss is 13 with a teacher:student ratio of 1:5. On average, faculty members have over 18 years of experience in the field of education. Most teachers and their families live on campus and they work closely with students through the advising system. As advisors, teachers are primarily responsible for their students' academic adjustment and success. Together the advisor and student assemble an academic and extracurricular programme that serves the student's interests, ensures that the student meets diploma requirements and puts the student in the best possible position for university applications. Students will often stay with the same advisor throughout their years at Hotchkiss, a relationship that is rewarding for both students and teachers.
Being a boarding school, life at Hotchkiss pretty much evolves around the Main Building . A typical day would run from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. The academic schedule, sports and extracurricular activities provide the framework for school life. Classes meet four to six times a week for 45-minute periods, followed by sport activities in the afternoon. Homework sessions usually run from 7:30 p.m. until 9:30 p.m. and all students are required to be in their dormitories by 10:00 p.m. Students are housed in 10 dormitories where each student has a single room. Saturday classes end at noon and Sundays are kept free for social activities. A wide variety of student-run clubs and organizations provide students with opportunities to pursue other interests and develop talents.
Each year, Hotchkiss enrolls about 545 students. This number is distributed equally through the four class years. Approximately 32% of the students receive some form of need-based financial assistance from the school's financial aid budget of US$ 4 million. The students at Hotchkiss come from 37 states and about 10% come from overseas among 21 countries.
Applicants to Hotchkiss must complete the school's formal application, which shall be evaluated by the admission committee. Candidates' transcripts, teacher references must be submitted with an application fee of US$ 100 before January 15 th of each year. It is strongly recommended that a candidate and his or her parents attend interview session with the Office of Admission. Those that can not attend, off-campus admission interviews can be arranged when necessary. Secondary School Admission Test (SSAT) or the Independent School Entrance Exam (ISEE) are required by the school. Applicants for whom English is a second language are required to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) in addition to the abovementioned tests. Admission decisions are usually mailed out by March 10 th and confirmation of acceptance must be submitted before April 10 th .
Tuition for the 2003-2004 school year is US$ 29,925 (Baht 1.2 million) for boarding students and US$ 25,450 for day students. However, parents should plan on another US$ 850 extra per year to cover the cost of books, laundry and other incidental expenses. Currently, about 32% of the students at Hotchkiss receive some form of need-based financial assistance consisting of grants, loans or both.
Hotchkiss boasts a body of distinguished alumni ranging from Oscar-winning Film Director to Pulitzer Prize-winning Composer to Olympic Fencer. The school's motto “Moniti Meliora Sequamur” literally means “After instruction, let us move on to pursue higher things.” As far as Thailand is concerned those that have attended Hotchkiss include Pornwut Sarasin, Vasan Chatikavanit, Pin Chakkpak, Chutinant BhiromBhakdi; all of whom spoke highly about their experiences at Hotchkiss.