After her summer at Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire, Amanda Sanchez knows what it takes to adapt to a completely new setting. The Exeter Summer brings approximately 750 students from more than 40 states and 50 countries to its boarding school campus each summer for “five weeks of academic study, athletics, and personal exploration.” Participants are encouraged to explore a wide range of interests, with over 450 advanced classes to choose from, while also enjoying a preview of college dorm life. This was Amanda’s first time leaving the city on her own — living in a dorm, taking classes of her own choosing, and even doing her own laundry! The experience, which she accessed through the SA Summer Experience program, left her feeling confident, with new interests, new friends, and a growing excitement for the independence of college life. We spent a few minutes with Amanda to hear details of the adventure, shared below.
What was the most unexpected challenge you faced this summer?
I was excited to be in a new place with new classmates, but I also had to learn how to manage my time in a new way. It’s not just about getting your work done, it also figuring out how to balance fun with friends — going out to eat, playing games on campus, and going to the gym — while also making sure that you leave time for chores like laundry. We were expected to get ourselves to class and to breakfast in the dining hall each day. These things seem small, but until you’ve had to do them for yourself, they can be challenging. I found that having an organized life, even outside of schoolwork and the classroom, allowed me to have the most fun in the end because I wasn’t stressed about dropping the ball.
This summer taught me how to connect with people who have different life experiences than myself
What was the highlight of your experience?
My classes were pretty great. I picked philosophy and songwriting and and a social media class; I liked songwriting best, which was surprising because I didn’t expect to become so interested in that aspect of music. I think it’s exciting when you discover a new interest, so that has to be one of the best things that came out of this summer for me. I also have to say that it’s fun to think of all the friends I now have around the world — I know someone in Hong Kong, in Germany; we all found a place in the program and connected with each other.
One thing from this summer that will stick with you?
This summer taught me how to connect with people who have different life experiences than myself and my friends at school. I think that’s a valuable lesson because when I go to college, I’ll be that much more comfortable in a new environment with new people.
Amanda Sanchez, front right, with new friends from her summer experience
All scholars who are in good standing and who meet the minimum GPA requirement — 80 percent — are encouraged to apply to SA Summer Experience; online applications for next summer are now open! The rigorous application process has been designed to mirror college admissions, including a personal statement and an interview. All admitted participants will have their application fees, program tuition, and room and board fully paid for by Success Academy!
Above: Amanda Sanchez, bottom right, enjoying ice cream with new friends