Parents' Guide to The Hill

Founded in 1851 as "The Family Boarding School," The Hill School is a purposefully small and close learning community - a place where academic excellence is based upon a challenging liberal arts curriculum; a faculty of highly qualified, dedicated teachers; and a structured atmosphere that blends high expectations with meaningful support. We encourage our student to become involved in all aspects of school life -- in the dormitories, in the classrooms, on the playing fields, on the stage, in the Dining Room, and in the Chapel. Within a few days of being on campus, students soon know how to find the answers for a myriad of questions. However, we understand that finding answers for questions can be harder for parents, especially those who live at great distances from the campus.

The Parents’ Guide to The Hill School is designed to help you understand The Hill School experience and support your child during these critical years. On this page you will find answers to frequently asked questions, as well as suggestions about how to handle a variety of situations you and your child may encounter at The Hill.

Adviser and Advisee Relationships

Your child's faculty adviser is your primary link to The Hill School. New students are appointed advisers based on the commonality of interests and faculty availability. An adviser can be changed after the first full semester by contacting the Assistant Headmaster for Academics. The student should initiate this contact.

The role of faculty advisers is to assist students with their success at The Hill School. Advisers help with course selections based on students’ needs, abilities, and interests. Advisers are kept informed about their advisee’s status in academics, extracurricular activities, social development, physical and mental health, and disciplinary status at least once a list and more frequently if difficulties arise. Advisers will then counsel students on how to address these problem areas. In addition, faculty advisers will discuss individual grades and overall academic performances with their advisees. It is important that your son or daughter develop a good rapport with his or her adviser.

You should expect to be contacted by email, or phone, or in person each term by your child’s adviser. If this does not occur, you should contact the faculty adviser for an update on your child’s academic and social progress. Due to the busy schedule of both parents and Hill faculty advisers, it is wise to establish times when you may call your child’s adviser and not have to leave a message. Parents meet with the adviser during Parents’ Weekend in October. You need to have a good, open relationship with your child’s adviser and trust his or her ability to help your child succeed at The Hill. You should have the confidence to review with your child’s adviser any concerns you may have with your child, the School, and changes at home that may affect your child.

Life in the Dormitories

Since The Hill School is a boarding school, every student is required to board at least one year. New students are assigned roommates and dormitories; returning students select roommates and request to live on specific halls in the dormitories. Each hall is overseen by a faculty dorm parent. These are school faculty members who live in apartments in the dormitories and are responsible for the safety and the productivity of their students. As with any parent, the style and atmosphere of the hall are set by the dorm parent. Therefore, some dorm parents may have a higher tolerance for noise level or clutter than others.

Dorm parents define the rules and set the standards for good communal living. They are vigilant against bullying or any form of hazing. They should also be aware of anyone having difficulty with homesickness or exhibiting academic, social, or physical difficulty. See The Hill School Handbook for specific regulations concerning dormitory life.

Prefects:  Prefects are fifth and sixth form students who are elected by faculty and dorm parents to reside in dormitory halls. A prefect serves as an assistant to the dorm parent and as an older brother or sister to the students on his or her hall. 

LEARN MORE ABOUT DORM LIFE

Safety and Security on Hill's Campus

The safety and security of our students and employees are top priorities at The Hill School.
 
  • The Hill School Campus Security team consists of 25 full- and part-time staff who provide 24/7/365 security coverage and transportation for our 150-acre campus and 750 residents.
     
  • Randal S. Doaty is Director of Safety, Security, and Transportation. Mr. Doaty is a former Chief of Police and has 25+ years of experience as a licensed private investigator and also 20+ years of service as an EMT in emergency medical services. Many of his staff also have police, fire, or emergency medical service experience.
     
  • The Hill School has maintained an outstanding record of safety and security. Mr. Doaty attributes the School’s excellent safety history to our supportive and collaborative campus atmosphere.
     
  • Student access cards provide access to some school buildings. This system replaced metal keys that can be lost or stolen.
     
  •  The School conducts carefully planned and documented emergency drills.
     
  •  The School’s robust video camera system watches and records activity on and around campus. Mr. Doaty maintains a close working relationship with the Pottstown Police Department and other regional school security departments.

Academic Performance

The school year is based on a three-term system. Each term is divided into two lists. Grades are given each list as well as a final exam grade for each term. A final grade for each term is the average of the two lists and the exam grade. New students in their first term and those students taking on more rigorous academic challenges are sometimes shocked and discouraged when their grades are lower than expected.
 

It is important to remember that the academic expectations and standards of The Hill School may be more rigorous than those of their previous schools. Some students come to The Hill better prepared to meet these new standards; however, all Hill students are up to the challenge of The Hill or they would not have been admitted. Based on a review of standard test scores, The Hill School has demonstrated an ability to take students farther academically than peer institutions. Your investment in a Hill School education needs to be evaluated over the long run. Cs that become Bs that become As are a tribute to a child’s determination to succeed. The underlying perseverance and work ethic will make your child a success in life long after The Hill.

College Counseling

Students are assigned a college counselor the winter term of their fourth form (sophomore) year. The role of the college counselor is to advise and direct your student toward making an independent and mature selection of colleges. Your child is responsible for requesting transcripts, writing essays, and filing applications and recommendations on time. Counselors will remind students of deadlines, but it is the students’ responsibility to work through the process with their guidance. The Testing Office will assist with ensuring that your child has taken the requisite exams (PSAT, SAT I and II, ACT, AP). Sixth form (senior) students only may take a limited number of days to visit colleges with permission; however, holidays and vacation times are better because they do not interfere with schoolwork. 

LEARN MORE ABOUT COLLEGE COUNSELING.

What if my Child is Having Roommate Problems?

Adjusting to living with a roommate is perhaps one of the greatest learning experiences your child will face. It can be daunting to learn to live with someone with a different personality and different habits. When issues arise, it is always advisable for your child to air his or her differences with the roommate and seek a reasonable compromise. If a situation escalates, the student should seek the advice of the prefect or the dorm parent. As a last resort, a student can request a room change through the Student Life Office depending on availability. (Room changes cannot be made until after Thanksgiving in order to ensure that the change is really needed and not a momentary whim).

What if My Child is Having Problems Adjusting to a Coach, Teacher, or Other Adviser?

Students are encouraged to address any problems or concerns directly with their teachers. Clarification of course expectations, extra help sessions, and tutoring are best addressed with the teacher. If your child is shy or reluctant to approach a teacher, he or she needs to review the situation with his or her adviser. In extreme cases where a conflict cannot be resolved, your child may wish to speak to Academic Dean John Dollhopf P'21.

As part of developing academic maturity, your child needs to take initiative in addressing these situations. As parents, it is sometimes difficult to resist the temptation to rush in and fix the problem. The structure is in place at The Hill to develop academic responsibility and maturity in your child. Let your child try to resolve the problem first. If, however, you believe a situation has gone beyond his or her capability to resolve, or is taking too long to resolve, contact his or her faculty adviser.

What if My Child is Not Making Friends in the Dormitory?

It is important to remind your son or daughter that friendships take time. He or she cannot expect to have the strong connections that they experienced at their former school right away. If your child does not connect with the people on his or her hall, encourage him or her to become involved with extracurricular activities, where he or she will find people of similar interests. Participation in athletics, the arts, a club, or a school trip can help forge new friendships. Taking time to “hang out” in the Student Center or dormitory common room can result in new relationships.

What Should My Child Pack for School?

Packing for your child’s boarding school experience is always an exciting prospect. Please consult the packing checklist, which includes items that cannot be brought to The Hill. You can help the School and your child by discouraging your child from bringing items that will distract from study time such as computer games or televisions which are not permitted. It is disappointing to students, if not frustrating to parents, to transport items that do not fit into the dorm room or are not allowed. Large items can be brought at a later time after consulting with the roommate and the dorm parent.

Personal touches in room decoration are always welcome, but it is best to have students work out these details with their roommates. Roommate relationships always run more smoothly when each party feels that the space is evenly shared and that he or she has been consulted. A student may want to consult with his or her roommate in advance or undertake a joint decorating trip to the mall to foster a spirit of cooperation and friendship.

Can My Child Come Home on the Weekends?

Consult the student Handbook on weekends and be sure to review carefully the document you signed at the beginning of the year about weekend permissions. Most weekends are designated “open,” but there are a number of “closed weekends” a year, when boarding students are not allowed to leave campus. These are a very important part of the School’s tradition designed to build the school community and are centered around significant weekend events such as Parents’ Weekend, final exams, Hill vs. Lawrenceville Weekend, etc. They also usually follow a vacation.

In addition to regularly scheduled athletics competitions, there are many weekend activities for students including concerts, dances, and movies (on and off campus); trips to the King of Prussia Mall or the outlets; community service events in Pottstown; and a host of field trips - including outings to Philadelphia and New York City - that make weekends interesting and fun. Learn more about weekends at Hill.

All Hill students benefit when parents encourage their children to stay on campus for weekends and become fully engaged in the life of the School. With that said, if a local student invites your child for the weekend, your child needs to complete a weekend application card at the Deans’ Office by 1 p.m. on the prior Thursday. If you have not provided weekend permission for your child, you will need to advise the Deans’ Office on each occasion that your child is permitted to go. You should also contact the host family to ensure that your child is welcome and that the host parents will be present, and to determine the specific weekend plans (e.g. is travel planned, where, and how?). 

What Happens When My Child is Sick?

If your child is a day student ill at home, you must notify the Wellness Center if your child will not be in school. If your child is a boarding student and becomes ill during the Wellness Center operational hours, the student should go to the Health Center. If your child becomes ill during the night, he or she should alert the dorm parent or contact security to reach the on-call registered nurse. Read more about The Hill School's Wellness Center.

Are Transportation Services Available?

For the opening and closing of School, holiday weekends, and long vacation breaks, The Hill will arrange for a shuttle/van to and from 30th Street Station, Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) and the Port Authority in New York City. Private transportation services also are available to students.
 
Please visit the Transportation Services page for additional details on transportation sign-up procedures and costs.
 
 

Are Laundry Services Available for Students?

Yes. The Hill School offers all students the option to enroll in a weekly personal laundry service.  

The fee for this service is $850 for the 2018-19 academic year. This incidental charge will be billed to your student’s tuition account in 2 installments. Dry cleaning charges are NOT included in this fee and will be billed separately per item.

Please note that whether or not you enroll in this laundry service, all boarding students are required to bring their own personal bedding including sheets (for a standard 72” single bed), pillowcases, blankets, and towels.

Learn more about Hill's Personal Laundry Service.

What Are Meals Like at The Hill?

We typically have six formal sit-down, family-style meals per week at The Hill, known as seated meals. Seated meals encourage communal life and allow new friendships to be forged and existing friendships to be strengthened. Seated meals are held every week day at lunch, and Tuesday evening dinners during the fall and spring terms. Attendance is mandatory for all students at seated lunches. Only boarding students are required to attend seated dinners; day students who still are on campus must attend seated dinner. Buffet meals are provided on weekends and for most dinners.

The Hill strives to provide meals that are appealing and nutritious. It is difficult, however, to match home-cooked meals. If your child is like most adolescents, you will receive mixed reviews on the food. Students often tire of the repetitiveness of meals, and may choose from alternatives such as the soup, salad, pasta, and deli bars. Vegetarian options are provided at every meal.

Students also may purchase snacks, sandwiches, and beverages at the Grille, which is located in the Student Center.

If your child has any dietary restrictions or special accommodations are needed, please contact the food service manager, Garret O'Neill, at 610-705-1101 or goneill@thehill.org.