I had a good time, made friends, and learned a lot. Those who let sweeping generalizations dictate their high school experience only have themselves to fault. You can avoid stress by learning to control your emotions, and the school contains a good population of thoughtful people who don't embrace stereotypical Scarsdalian values. The resources are all there; all you have to do is seek them out. Navigating Scarsdale's social and academic scenes has taught me countless invaluable lessons about what I value. I will say, though, that there is more the administration could do to discourage stress and encourage better behavior (as many complain in this forum, advisors have a knack for blaming stress on families and not their own policies; and athletes are rarely held accountable for their actions.) Despite this fault, the quality of education I've gotten here is superb. I had some wonderful, caring teachers, took some fantastic classes, and though I may have cursed the gods when I had three essays to write over the course of one weekend, college has been so much easier after completing such a rigorous curriculum. And senior options was a blast.
Scarsdale high school is a legend in its own mind. Their education programs look good on paper, but professors who review their curriculum tend to be shocked in a negative way. They forecast children will be swamped with stess and discouraged from learning purely from the curriculum. That's exactly what happened to my son.
Scarsdale is a little too expensive and expects a little way too much from its students that it undermines the school system. For instance their alternative school is a cross section of the ENTIRE high school. Alternative schools are for students who are at risk academically for an array of reasons; it should never be for most students. If Scarsdale wants to experiment teaching approaches, do it on your own time, not on the student's time. If you want a reasonable education and still have some diversity, go to Great Neck. This school is not at all spectacular, as it does not offer any full-inclusion programs for individuals with mental retardation. It also does not have an inclusion policy for the rest of the students with disabilities.
If you care about your child's emotional well-being, avoid Scarsdale at all costs. They begin stressing the kids out in 7th grade and it gets worse from there. Don't believe the hype. There are better school districts around. The school system blames the families for pressuring the kids, and that may be true in part, but the school does a pretty good job on its own. One of Scarsdale's main faults is that as a community they have no ability to self-reflect and admit mistakes. Hubris. Arrogance.
I think this school does an excellent job of preparing kids for college. It's curriculum catalog reads like a college course catalog and most teachers are top notch. Since attending this school, my kid has been more excited about learning and advancing than he has ever been. Isn't that what a great school is supposed to do?
The WSJ survey for the best schools in 12/07 listed 65 schools based upon the likelihood of success in getting into Ivy League Schools. (http://online.wsj.com/public/resources/documents/info-COLLEGE0711-sort.html). Scarsdale did not make the list, which had an acceptance range to Ivy League schools of 26-7.8%. The high school routinely blames parents for causing stress in their children and refuses to take any serious measures to reduce any stress they cause themselves. They just talk about how wonderful their programs are and pretty much ignore the kids. I told my son he could get any grades he wanted and he still had severe problems with stress...
The July 1, 2011 review seems to have been written by someone with more emotion than limited insight, which is unfortunate (Ivy League schools do not give athletic scholarships for example), and I know literally dozens of SHS students who have gotten into top colleges on their merits. SHS is considered among the top public schools in the nation (the WSJ had it about fifth among public schools three years ago), and most colleges considered SHS graduates very favorably. The environment is challenging for the top students, but less so for those who choose to express themselves in other ways. In my experience (a collective eight going on nine years), pressure is much more a function of the family environment than of the actual academic setting, so if criticism is due it seems to be better targeted at the community as a whole. There are top teachers there who challenge the kids - and those who want to rise to the occasion must push themselves. This seems a good thing.
Don't send your kids here...really bad place. the ivy league schools only take kids from scarsdale if their parents know someone or they win a sports scholarship. the athletes of this town are famous for breaking serious rules of conduct and never being held to account. this is so because the administrators know these kids are the only real hope for keeping their acceptance rates to top schools up...like the opposite of the nike commercial "just don't do it." look for a program where kids learn something other than how to be stressed and regurgitate info...
While this school may look beautiful from the outside, the actual substance leaves much to be desired. The classes are very large, advising suffers from too many children per advisor, and everything is overly competitive. I found it to be a toxic environment to learn and grow in. I'm glad that I was able to get out of this system.