A co-educational private school for Preschool–Grade Eight

Feature Friday: Eye on Secondary School

This week's #FeatureFriday highlights Far Hills Director of Upper School and Secondary School Placement, Ed Thompson, who has been at Far Hills since 2012. 

Ed plays a significant role in the secondary school process, assisting our students every step along the way. The process begins in the spring term of the sixth-grade year with a series of parents' informational meetings. It continues in the fall of seventh grade when students and their parents attend our Secondary School Fair. Seventh-graders take their first SSAT (Secondary School Admission Test) later that fall or early winter to aid in planning and preparation for the academic years to follow. In the spring, parents meet individually with Ed to begin to assemble a list of potential secondary schools. In the months that follow, families work in partnership with him to refine their list of schools while gathering information about each. The process goes into "full swing" in the fall of the eighth-grade year, with interviews, campus visits, applications, and standardized test preparation targeted to the students' top tier schools.

In non–COVID years, Ed organizes the Secondary School Fair, which brings admission representatives from more than 120 schools from all over the country right here to Far Hills to meet with our families, introduce their schools, and invite further exploration. Typically we hold the fair in the fall and another boarding school showcase in the spring. "The Secondary School Fair is an event that is successful for all involved and a key element to help families and students during the exploration phase during the secondary school process. Looking ahead, it's too early to say how things will look for the future, but we will do everything in our power to connect our families and students with schools in-person, virtually, or both! True to form, this year proved our resilient students relied on creative ways to get a feel for the schools they were considering, and we, along with the high schools, did our best to help facilitate this. As the school year progresses, we'll continue to take what we have learned from this experience to help us best serve the seventh-graders and families as they navigate this process for the coming school year," said Ed. 

Student Council President Caroline Calello explains, "Mr. Thompson was definitely a humongous help during the secondary school process. I don't think I would know where I wanted to go to secondary school without his help. During my application process, he set me up with a sophomore at one of the schools, and I got the chance to talk to her. After speaking with her, that was definitely a big reason for picking that school to attend. He is always there to support and help in any way we need and quickly answers any questions. If I send him an email, he always gets back to me within fifteen minutes, and we would have a meeting set up either that day or the very next day."

Q&A with Ed:

  • Best advice you can give to students going through the secondary school process. 
    • Let your imagination run wild at first! Explore a variety of schools.
  • Top things to look for in a secondary school?
    • Overall, we look for fit!
      • What is the balance between academics and student life (i.e., arts, athletics, clubs)
      • Does the school have programs that match your interests and passions?
      • Do you see happy students and happy teachers on your campus visits?
      • Does the school support Technology and Innovation?
      • Does the school support Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives?
      • Size of the school matters: You will have a different experience at a school of 300 vs. 900!
  • What secondary school did you attend?
    • I attended Delbarton.
  • What was your personal favorite secondary school memory? 
    • Not a favorite memory per se, but this is funny.....Defeating a current Far Hills parent 6-4 in the third set in a doubles match in 1996 only to see him years later in the Far Hills car line! A rematch is in order!