I've been at Commonwealth School for two years now. While I love some things about it, I've also had a really hard time there. The academics are super challenging, which I like, but the amount of work leaves it so I have literally very very little free time. The school gives students a good amount of independence, which I also like. However, I've had trouble fitting in with the school culture. There's a heavy intellectual-nerdy, wealthy, privileged population that dominants school culture. If you don't come from that background or are a bit "mainstream," it can be hard to fit in. The athletics are really bad, too. Everyone makes the "varsity" sports and the level of skill on those teams is really low. If you want a good in-school athletic experience, don't go to Commonwealth (unless you're a fencer).
I just stumbled upon this website so I couldn't resist adding my praise to the pile. I have a son who graduated and one who is a current student. This school was "life changing" for them. It's intense, but boy oh boy do you come out of it with a strong intellect, great study habits and a mature and respectful attitude towards others. As others have mentioned it's a fairly self selected student body, but there is a huge diversity of interests among them. Last thing...the sports are not huge, but they can be intense if you want. The students take the team sports and fencing very seriously.
Commonwealth is really a place like no other: it's one of the most intense experiences of your life. But you'll come out with an amazing education, as well as a great sense of who you are and what you're capable of. I wanted to make a comment about the parent's review of 12/10/10, where s/he says that there are some very unqualified students. Commonwealth has always had a suspiciously high admittance rate for the level of student that the graduate, because the student body is largely self-selected. You have to really WANT an intensive environment. There have always been a bunch of students who are not, to be polite, the ones that make Commonwealth have the highest average SAT scores in the country. But they always have something else to offer, and make Commonwealth a richer place. One man that I graduated with might not have been getting straight A's, but he was an amazing artist, and his post-Commonwealth career has garnered a lot of very positive publicity. Commonwealth is known for its academics, but it's really so, so much more. You won't find a more interesting group of students at any school.
For a day school In the greater Boston are, it doesn't get any better than this! Committed teachers and administrators who instill passion and a love of learning in your child! Intellectual outliers thrive here--truly a well rounded education for Boston's most gifted! My only negative comment is that in very recent years they have allowed a very small number of unqualified students admittance, with an exception of at least one seemingly highly unqualified student matriculating here. For the most part and with very few exceptions, the students here are stellar intellects and their 'uniquness' is respected and appreciated. It's not an easy school and you will work harder than you ever imagined--but you are fully supported along the way.
Very rigorous, very challenging. The teachers are very easy to talk to, and yet know exactly what they are doing and have a passion for what they're teaching. Likewise, students are serious about learning and all have interests that the school really helps develop. As a student here, I feel like the school is a preparation for life beyond college rather than simply university. Not the place to go for sports, but for anything else? Yes.
i love this school!!!! I recently completed my freshman year and I loved the great discussions, and critical thinking aspects of my education. Within minutes it seemed like I knew everyone there; it is really that small!!! I could voice my opinion, and it didn't feel wrong; they embraced what everyone had to say. If you do better in a traditional classroom setting, then this is not the school for you, but if you are looking for a challenging place where you know everyone, are supported by them, and can voice your opinion and it counts, then this is the place for you. Great place to choose your classes and follow your dreams and interests.
An amazing place where students are challenged, respected and nurtured. Excellence is what is expected and what the stellar teaching staff deliver to and get from students. Strong leadership, cohesive community, urban setting that leverages city resources. Exceptional.
The most rarified secondary school education in the country. If you want sports, this is not the school for you. If want the most rigorous, stimulating secondary school liberal arts education available, this is the place. A world class eduation. I am an alum who went to an elite college, law, and grad school and my training at Commonwealth prepared me well. I wish I lived in the Boston area so that I could send my children there.
Commonwealth is one of the most academically demanding schools imaginable, but its GREAT teachers strive to instill in, and elicit from its uniformly bright, frequently brilliant young people no less than the passion and engagement that accompanies a lifelong intellectual awakening. In that sense the school is 'progressive', i.e. a place crackling with the excitement of learning rather than the grim plodding of competition and careerism that characterizes the traditional 'lecture, test, and re-test' academies. For those relatively few kids who do not respond (and there will always be some), these expectations may be experienced merely as burden. But supports and caring are there. Careful attention is devoted to social and ethical issues consistent with the school mission of developing 'sharp minds and generous hearts'. School climate is atypically healthy - clique-ism gains minimal traction, and no excluding group or dynamic ever holds sway. It's a tough but happy place.
All I can say is that Commonwealth was not voted #1 private school for nothing! It amazes me how many truly gifted and profoundly intellectual peers you can find in one little school! The teachers and the administrators are not only supportive, and encouraging, and they show an interest in your success! They care if you are challenged and inspire you to push yourself even further! I've never worked so hard in my life, and the rewards have been countless so it is well worth it. I know that no matter where I go on to college--Harvard, MIT, Princeton or Yale--I will have the tools to succeed thanks to this academic mecca!
Of the three day schools in Boston devoted to educating very gifted students: Roxbury Latin, Andover and Commonwealth, Commonwealth is the best! One need only look at the recent Boston Magazine ranking. The courses are incredibly challenging and the teaching staff is supportive! The administration is professional. honest and respectful of students and families (you don't feel like you are dealing with 'big brother' here)--and this is probably the most important aspect of any independent school--the leadership-- since you deal with administration A LOT! If your child is truly GIFTED and prioritizes academics, then Commonwealth or RL are really the only choices in Boston for private day schools willing to challenge and accommodate advanced learners. Andover is also great for gifted students, but it is out of the city. There are many strong boarding schools to consider as well.
I am a former student of the Commonwealth School and currently a graduate student at an Ivy League university. While the Commonwealth School has many excellent qualities, I had a poor experience as a student. In fact, I left halfway through my junior year. Although the school has an excellent academic program, the faculty and administration did not provide a supportive environment. At the Commonwealth School, a number of teachers and administration members made me feel like I was disorganized, unintelligent and incapable of meeting expectations. Only after leaving Commonwealth was I able to fully realize my academic potential. Commonwealth is a great option for some students but it was a an extremely poor choice for me.
I have been a freshman at this school for over a month now and it is one of the best experiences I have had both academically and socially. The teachers and students in this school are absolutely fantastic and they will always help you with any problem you have whether it is school related, friends or family. I would recommend this school to anybody who is qualified!
This school is on par with the most academically prestigious High Schools in the Country. If you have a child who stands out and is creative, highly intelligent and motivated, this is the school for him/her. Do not accept inferior imitations! Not only do they offer accelerated foreign language and math options--Art classes are also offered at equally high caliber! Unlike other private HS that claim to be the most academic, Commonwealth is highly selective-- they are not in it to simply turn a profit. If you do not gain admissions here, 2nd choices for highly academic High Schools are: Roxbury Latin, Nobles, Milton, Winsor--all strong schools!
Hands down this school is absolutely the most academic, intellectual and challenging high school in the greater Boston area. This is where the truly gifted students thrive! Great teachers who have a long history with the school, low turnover rates and an administrators who understands smart kids and will not hold them back intellectually! I would highly recommend this brilliant institution without reservation!
An awesome school that demands much of its students. Send your children here if they are budding intellectuals, artists, performers, or scientists; they will leap forward in accomplishment and sophistication, and take major steps toward a fulfilling life.
Commonwealth is a tiny school in a charming but rather cramped Victorian brownstone. Classes are never more than 15 students and can be as small as 2 or 3 in some cases. All the teachers are very accessible and mostly brilliant. (At least half have Phd's in their subject.) The arts programs are excellent and the community feeling is very strong. Also, the school is very politically liberal and open to the LGBTQ community.
Commonwealth is an excellent school for students prepared to work at it. Academically demanding, with small classes and wonderful faculty who truly care for the students and their successes (academic and personal!), my daughter found quirky friends, intelligent advisors, and a challenge. She came out prepared for college and confident about her ability to take advanced classes. Though Commonwealth doesn't rank or calculate GPA, most junior and senior classes prepare students for the AP tests. And while I was glad to see my daughter score well, I was even happier when she was able to recognize the flaws and inadequacies of standardized testing, because she had learned to prize education and understanding, and to recogize the value of what testing doesn't measure: her ability to write well, to reason, and to approach learning sensibly and eagerly.
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