This 2011-2012 academic year, Choate Rosemary Hall welcomes twenty postgraduate students to join the returning 6th Form class of 2012. As in past years, many anticipate the postgraduate students to bring distinctive and engaging aspects to Choate’s academic, athletic and artistic community.
“The first thing we look for in a postgraduate applicant,” said Mr. Raymond Diffley, Director of Admission, “is diversity and depth.” In the past, Choate has gathered PG’s from many different backgrounds: some from public schools, others from private schools, some from Connecticut, others all the way from Saudi Arabia or Japan. Mr. Diffley said that Choate has consistently accepted around 20 postgraduates for the past few years. “Twenty is a good number of PG’s to have without overwhelming the senior class. You’d see the number [of postgraduates accepted to Choate] go up to the thirties maybe fifteen years ago,” said Mr. Diffley.
When asked what Choate looks for in postgraduate applicants, Mr. Diffley commented, “We look for symbiotic relationships. We are trying to find a PG that will give to our community as much as he or she will take from our community. This brings an infusion of new people in every year which results in a wonderfully social environment.” Because postgraduate students only spend one academic year at Choate, the admissions offices look at the applicants a lot more meticulously than normal ones. “The need for that symbiotic match is higher [for postgraduates than for any other applicant],” said Mr. Diffley. “We need to meet their goals and have them add dimensions to our community.”
This year, Mr. Diffley pointed out that the admissions officers worked “more and more with faculty members to find students that would fit with this school.” They discussed with coaches and teachers to pinpoint the elements that postgraduate students can gain from Choate and also give to Choate. Mr. Diffley also emphasized the importance of maturity in the candidates. “The postgraduate application specifically separates the mature from the immature,” said Mr. Diffley, who noted that Choate postgraduates have always been students that are not “too cool for school.”
A misconception that Mr. Diffley asserts is the labeling of postgraduate students at Choate as “Academic or Athletic PG’s.” “[The admissions officers] don’t think of it that way,” said Mr. Diffley. “First and foremost, PG’s are accepted for academic reasons. They are expected to challenge themselves in an academic level that Choate can provide. On top of that people come with different talents. We really do look for students who can do multiple things and can encompass different parts of Choate Rosemary Hall.”
However, Coaches, especially, have been very vocal in the admissions process of postgraduates. Despite the reluctance to label postgraduates as athletic or academic, many postgraduates are drawn to Choate because of sports. Peter Kelly ’12, a postgraduate student, explained that he wanted to go to Georgetown University but was not prepared to go last year. After speaking with Georgetown University’s football coaches, Kelly was redirected to Coach Erik Cooper, the head coach of the Boys Varsity Football Team, and to another football coach in Loomis Chaffee. After deciding to come to Choate and arriving on campus, Kelly said, “Choate has been very welcoming, and is even far better than what I had heard it to be like.” He also praised the faculty members at Choate, saying, “Coach Cooper is tough but fair, and Mr. Stanley, who is both my teacher and my dean, is great.”
This academic year, Choate has also accepted PG students from international destinations. Of the three female and seventeen male postgraduate students this year, sixteen are from U.S.A., five are from Connecticut, two are from Dominica, one is from Venezuela, and one is from Thailand, according to the Admissions Office.
Anneke “Chipi” Ball ’12, who comes from Caracas, Venezuela, said she decided to do a postgraduate year at Choate because she felt her previous public school in Venezuela did not prepare her for college life. Ball, whose parents, grandparents and cousins graduated from Choate, said, “Choate is very different from what the Venezuelan public school I previously attended was like.” She explained that she took eleven classes and did not have access to elective courses. She also felt, “ the teachers didn’t want students to succeed.” As for the social aspect, Ball commented, “Choate has been so welcoming, and the PG’s this year have bonded very well. We’re a close group of friends.”
Another international postgraduate is Wasinee “Ping” Suksompong ’12, who has had the opportunity to come to Choate through the Thai Scholarship program in Bangkok, Thailand. Suksompong’s academic achievements in Thailand allowed her to become a member of the Thai Scholars, a group of forty Thai students who are given money to study abroad at boarding schools, followed by university. When finalizing her list of schools she wanted to attend, Choate did not initially make the cut. “Choate told the program that they needed a boy to fit the applicant pool so I did not have Choate in mind,” said Suksompong. “But things led to another and I was accepted to Choate.” When asked if she was happy with her choice, she commented on the social diversity of Choate. “People are really nice. The classes are a lot smaller than the 40-50 students classes I took in Thailand, so I get to meet a lot of people,” said Suksompong. “The PG’s are also very nice to me; they always say hi when we walk by each other.”
Prince Ratanachai ’11, last year’s Choate Thai scholar, in fact, helped Suksompong prepare for Choate life. “Prince actually talked to me a lot about Choate and even wrote a manual to help me adapt to prep school life.”
Matthew Heise ’12, who hails from Ithaca, New York, is another postgraduate who decided to come to Choate to explore opportunities. “I really wanted to go to Amherst College,” said Heise, whose sister attended Amherst, “and use this year to get ready for Amherst and also for the Olympics swimming trials.” Heise, who is currently managing the Girl’s Field Hockey team, is training for the swimming season and aspires to swim in the Olympics. His favorite aspect of Choate so far is the convivial atmosphere. He said, “Classes are great, and the field hockey team is a great group of girls.” He also noted that the senior class has also been very warm and welcoming to him. “Choate ’12 is one of the better classes I’ve seen,” said Heise. “They are really friendly and smart, and there is a hint of competitiveness due to the college application process; it’s fun competition and most of the PG’s are in the same boat.”
Other postgraduates shared the same sentiment about the veteran senior class at Choate. “I don’t feel any difference [between the postgraduates and seniors],” said Kelly. “I live with some of the PG’s and seniors in Combination House and we’ve come to call ourselves the ‘Com-bro’s’.”
Despite his having graduated already from high school, Kelly explained that he could not feel any difference in maturity from his peers. Said Kelly, “These [seniors] are so mature, to the point where the PG’s fit in very well. Either they are mature or I am immature.”