Advice From Nobles Students

Congratulations to our newly admitted students! We recently asked first year Nobles students to reflect on their time here so far and to provide some advice for you about life at Nobles. Here are some of the major themes that they touched upon in their responses:

 Forge Friendships

“Coming from a big public school, people with different interests rarely supported each other in their different passions. I would encourage new students to embrace that at Nobles, everyone in their grade will be just as enthusiastic about the upcoming play as they are the for the athletic event that day. As an athlete, I definitely began to feel closer with my grade and more comfortable as I started doing the little things such as wishing the people auditioning for the play ‘good luck,’ even though theatre has never been something I was involved in.” – Class III student

“My biggest fear was that I would be joining a class of already close students in the upper school and no one would make an effort to be friends with me. Although it is true that there are already groups of close-knit students, everyone is very welcoming and no one is going to ice you out because you are new.” – Class IV student

 “At my old school people sat with the same people every day, so the fact that so many different groups of people have lunch is another thing I wish I had embraced earlier. I was surprised to see people in different grades or with different outside of school interests sitting together, but after I realized what a nice thing this was it became clear to me that lunch could be a time to bring the whole school together and learn new things about different people. Overall, I would encourage new students to really ‘dive into’ the supportive atmosphere Nobles creates and make relationships with a wide array of people around the school in order to ease the transition.”  – Class III student

 Relish the Challenge

“The biggest advice I can give to new Class IV students is to challenge yourself, whether it’s on the sports field, on stage, in the classroom, or even in the alcoves. Nobles is rigorous for a reason, and the hard work the teachers and coaches will give you or push you to do is all to see you challenge yourself and thrive. You’ll never know what you’re capable of unless you believe in yourself, take on new challenges, and overcome obstacles you may have been scared to try before. The faculty and all of the students at Nobles are supportive of everyone’s decisions, and they really want to see people rise to the occasion when they are challenged. Whether it’s taking an Honors class, getting to know an upperclassmen, or going out for the varsity team you didn’t think you could make, every challenge you take on will help define you and help you grow. Nobles is super intense and difficult at times, but the rewards you get are worth all of the hard work.” – Class IV student

Embrace Relationships

 “Get to know your teachers. With the smaller classes, you can become friendly with them and get to know them better than I did when I was a student in public schools.” – Class VI student

“My advice for incoming students would be to take advantage of the opportunities available, but also to always keep their primary focus on their academics. The hardest thing will be adjusting but using your teachers and peers as much as you can throughout the year will help a lot. “ – Class IV student

“My advice would be to seek help immediately with any problems you have in class. Always go to your teacher or advisor if you need help.”  – Class IV student

Have Fun and Be Brave

“High school should be fun. It’s important to work hard but also to enjoy yourself. Make time for friends.” – Class III student

“Join clubs right away! I regret that I didn’t take full advantage of x-block when I first got here.” – Class IV student

“Don’t ever miss assembly or Friday Night Lights (when our football team plays under the lights).” – Class IV student

“Go on Nobles trips, including outing club excursions.” – Class IV student

“Get out to events! Games are where school spirit is on display. It is so fun to cheer for our school and show our pride. Plus your friends really appreciate the support.” – Class IV student

“Share your talents. Don’t be afraid or hold back. Get up on the stage in assembly and show us what you’ve got!” – Class IV student

“Try new sports. I tried crew for the first time. It was so fun and I met a whole new group of friends.” – Class IV student

“Go to preseason in sports even if you aren’t varsity caliber. I had never held a field hockey stick in my life but I went to pre-season. I was really nervous but I learned a ton and met so many people.” – Class IV student




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Your Fall To-Do List for the School Search

We thought this might be a good time to check in with all of our prospective students and families regarding the secondary school search and what you should be thinking about as the fall progresses.

At this point, you are probably still in the information collecting phase. You should be attending school fairs and/or open houses, asking for printed materials and perusing brochures and websites in an effort to finalize your school list (i.e. schools to which you will apply).

Once you have your list, it is important to schedule your visits. For Nobles, all visits are scheduled online. Once you submit your inquiry via our website, you will receive an email from us with a link to a scheduling page. Applicants to our Upper School (grades 9-11) will schedule a tour and an interview. Applicants to our Middle School (grades 7 and 8) will schedule a tour and a Group Activity session. Some of our dates are already booked, so you will want to get moving with the scheduling piece soon if you haven’t started already.

Here are a few others things that you should be thinking about at this point:

  1. Register for the standardized test. Upper School applicants should take the SSAT ( while Middle School applicants should take the ISEE (
  2. Look over your applications. Start to familiarize yourself with essay and short answer questions.
  3. Ask your teachers for recommendations. You are required to submit recommendations from your school (guidance or placement counselor) and from your current math and English teachers. It’s a good idea to ask your teachers now if they would be willing to submit a recommendation on your behalf.

As always, we are here to answer your questions, so feel free to reach out to us anytime (



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We’re Opening up the House!

On Saturday, October 18, Nobles will host its annual Fall Open House from 9 am – noon. We hope to see you there!

Although the event will be more of an Open Schoolhouse, we invite you to think of the event in the same way that you might approach an actual Open House. For example:

  • Feel free to stop by. You don’t have to register, and you don’t have to stay for the three hours if you have other things to do that day. The lights will be on, the atmosphere will be welcoming and we will be ready and eager to greet you and show you around our place.
  • See inside. At the Open House, you can learn a lot about Nobles by listening to student and faculty panelists discuss everything from the travel program to multicultural programs, athletics, the arts and the admission process, among others. You can see the campus on a student-led tour. You can enjoy a Q&A with our Head of School, Bob Henderson. Come in and examine Nobles in more depth.
  • Feel the vibe. Sometimes homebuyers will talk about walking into a house or apartment and just knowing that it is “the one.” You just get a feeling. Our hope is that you will leave our Open House with a better understanding of our physical plant but also with a clear sense of our culture and ethos.
  • Keep it real. Remember, the Open House takes place on a Saturday. Many of our own students will be around, but it won’t be a typical school day. So while we know that you will leave the Open House feeling fully informed about Nobles, we also want you to know that a normal school day here feels quite different. Open houses are a lot of fun because there are a lot of people around but again, remember that most days are significantly quieter around here.
  • Voice your opinion. As you leave the Open House, we would love to hear your feedback via a brief survey. As always, feel free to contact us anytime with questions.

Thanks for your interest in Nobles. We hope to see you on Saturday!

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The importance of “fit”; when the Brannock Device isn’t an option

Unlike shoes, for which you can fairly easily determine your size using the under-appreciated Brannock Device, admission “fit” is nebulous. Shoes either fit or they don’t fit, whereas admission fit can be more difficult to determine and even more difficult to define. When reviewing an application to Nobles, we ask ourselves: Will this student be a good fit for Nobles and is Nobles a good fit for this student? Here are a few thoughts on our process of measuring fit:

First and foremost, we ask ourselves if an applicant will be able to thrive academically at Nobles. We look at grades, teacher comments and standardized test scores to try to determine if the student will be able to do the academic work at Nobles while balancing other interests and having time to be a kid. Nobles is challenging, and even the very best students will have times when they have to buckle down and focus on their coursework. But we look for students who can handle the workload without having to sacrifice the other things that make them who they are.

Once we have determined that a student is likely to be successful here academically, we then look to see what other interests or talents the student will bring to our community. Most students here are involved in many different activities and participate at a high level across the board. Some students are stand outs in one academic or extracurricular area. We are definitely looking for students who will come here and do something or a lot of different things in depth. Ours is a vibrant, busy, productive community, and we look for those who want to participate fully in that community.

We care about personal qualities. This doesn’t mean that there is a “typical” Nobles student. At Nobles, there are students who are outgoing, shy, loud, quiet, serious and silly, just to name a few. In general, it is safe to say that we seek kind, thoughtful people who are curious, motivated and happy working with other students and faculty members. The importance that we place on personal qualities is reflected in our mission statement, which includes words like leadership, creativity, character, citizenship, independence, self-respect, humility, humor, collaboration, honesty and respect for others. Although it is impossible to learn everything about a person from an application, we are able to learn a lot from essays, teacher recommendations and an interview or group session here on campus.

Although we are talking about our experience during the admission process at Nobles, we believe this information will be helpful to you if you are a student or a parent trying to decide if Nobles or another independent school might be a good fit for you.

To learn more about Nobles, join us for our next Open House on Saturday, October 18 at 9:00 a.m

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How I Conquered the Finance World 41 Days After Graduating From Nobles.

Students who are starting at Nobles next week are entering into a lifelong relationship with the school. The experience of Nobles – including lessons learned and relationships forged – lasts long after graduation. A vibrant graduate community awaits. Jack Radley ’14 witnessed the strength of the Nobles network this summer, when he attended his first event as a graduate. Here are his reflections:

 How I Conquered the Finance World 41 Days After Graduating From Nobles.

After graduation this past May and the weeks of festivities that ensued, I wasn’t sure when the next time would be that I would see a concentrated group of Nobles grads.  When I heard about the Graduate Panel on Finance event this past Thursday at State Street, I was a little surprised; I was not expecting to be invited to a Nobles event until our five-year reunion.  I was asked if I would be interested in attending, and on a whim a few friends and I decided to check it out.

In the lobby, I helped people check in and get their nametags. Several men and women saw the “Welcome Nobles Grads” sign and came over to tell us how their daughter was a graduate, how their nephew went to Nobles, or how their husband was a grad and they were going to take a picture to show him what he was missing out on. My three friends and I took the elevator up to the 36th floor of State Street to a room full of people. Some appeared to know everyone and some appeared to know no one, but it didn’t matter because everyone had at least one thing to talk about – Nobles.

When the panel began, I was impressed by how accomplished, humorous, and down-to-earth the six panelists and host were. However, what struck me most was how few of them had actually set out from the beginning to “do” finance. They told the stories of their paths to where they were today, and I found relief in not having to commit to something right out of college. Weighing in on the best attributes of people in their field, they brought up accountability, adaptability, emotional intelligence, and hard work – and when I thought about it, those were many of the qualities that had gotten my classmates and me through the past four years at Nobles. Andy Janfaza ’84, one of the panelists, encouraged everyone in the room to reach out to them, to talk to them, and to email them; he urged us not to be blind to the power of the Nobles connection.

I had never considered “the Nobles connection” before, but the more I did, the more I saw it all around me – the feeling of walking with 118 other students under the white tent two months ago, the strangers talking to us in the lobby, and the people throughout that room on the 36th floor. There’s a cool app that I recently found out about called Noble and Greenough School Alumni that will show you the contact information of all other Nobles grads after logging in– you can search a variety of fields from location to profession and it’s available exclusively to Nobles grads.

I suppose I didn’t technically conquer the Finance World… that was a bit of a stretch. To be honest, at 18 I really have no idea what I want to pursue, and I am probably as interested in finance as the next person. However, after leaving the event, I not only felt like I had a better connection with the seven people at the front of the room, but with everyone else in the rows beside me.

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Easy Tips for Starting the Admission Process

If you or your child is thinking about applying to secondary schools this fall and winter, here are a few easy, hopefully pain and stress free things that you can do this summer to familiarize yourself with the application process and with schools.

Visit virtually. It’s fun and simple to get to know schools initially through their websites. Online, you can request admission information, of course, but you can also learn a lot about what schools are about. Check out the school’s mission statement first to see if there might be something there that resonates with you.

You can also take a look at academic and extracurricular offerings. Although many offerings will be the same from school to school, there will be important differences. For example, if you love art, where does art fit into a given school’s curriculum and what is available in the extracurricular realm? Love theater? See what schools have to offer in that area. If cross country is your thing, and you know that you want to run in high school, check out the athletic section of the website and explore the cross country program in more depth.

Although virtual visits will not provide you with all of the information that you will need to make a fully informed decision, they are a great place to start to get to know schools and to discern what type of school might be ideal for you. Many also have video libraries and photo galleries – these are fun to peruse and will help you begin to develop a sense for school culture.

Drive by. If you find yourself in a town where there is a secondary school that might be a possibility for you, drive to it and take a look. Many campuses will be quiet in the summer (or perhaps busy with summer programs such as camps and conferences), but you will be able to get a sense for the campus and the surroundings. You can see the athletic fields and other outdoor facilities, develop a feel for the size and location of a given school and imagine yourself there without even leaving the car.

Daydream. Summer is a great time to get away from the daily demands of the school year and enjoy some downtime. This slower time of year offers an opportunity to do some thinking – and not the hard kind! Spend a little time thinking about you and your interests and goals.

What do you hope to get out of your secondary school experience? What do you know that you want to do and what do you think you might like to try?

You will change a lot over the course of your middle and high school years, but you also know yourself better than anyone else, and your own hopes and dreams should play a large role in the school search. It will make the school search more enjoyable if you think of it as an opportunity rather than a drag.

Have a great summer, and please contact us here in the Nobles Admission Office if we can be helpful at any time.

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Clubs and Organizations at Nobles – what is X-Block anyway?

At Nobles we are so fortunate to have the time in our busy schedule to have specific blocks for Clubs and Organizations. Every week, we have X-block (the block specified for these clubs) on Fridays last period of the day from 2:30 to 3 p.m.  Also, every other Wednesday we have X-block from 8:25 to 9 a.m. This time is allotted for students to explore different ideas and concepts around the school that they may not otherwise have time for during their week. For example, we offer clubs such as Community Service, Young Republicans, Young Democrats, Sports Club, Spanish Club, French Club and countless others. Also, we are able to start any club we want to as long as we have one faculty advisor to oversee our decisions and plans.

_DSC8801I am currently one of the heads of the Community Service Board and enjoy working with many students on and off campus in order to improve the public good. Throughout the year we have an incredible amount of projects going on at once, so having a good core and a wide variety of students provides a lot of opportunities for the school to help many of those in need. It’s amazing how many hands make for light work, and it is quite enjoyable at the same time. The Community Service Board not only works within the boundaries of just the board members, but we also works with many other clubs in order to provide assistance to other ideas brought to us from other students. This teamwork helps take a small idea, and make it a huge reality. Having the time designated for X-block offers the students and opportunity to share their skills with others in order for students to learn from each other.

Cody, Nobles class II

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If You Send Your Child to a Private School, You are Not a Bad Person

The online public affairs magazine, Slate, recently published an article entitled, If You Send Your Child to a Private School, You Are a Bad Person.  In response to this article, John Chubb, the newly appointed President of NAIS (the National Association of Independent Schools), has written a thoughtful response to the article here:

Kelly Evans Science ClassMr. Chubb concludes his response by stating, “Parents who choose the schools that their children attend, public or private, are doing good—not bad—for America. They are bolstering a pluralistic system of schools, derived from a fundamental right to choose, but made strong by the willingness of generations of families to exercise that right thoughtfully.”  Come see what we have to offer at Nobles!

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It’s Independent School Interview Season! How Can I Prepare?

An interview is an opportunity!

The first thing to remember when it comes to getting ready for an independent school interview is that the interview provides two opportunities – the second of which is often forgotten in a fit of nervousness. One, it will give the school you are considering an opportunity to get to know more about you than can be learned on the pages of an application. Two, it gives you the admisblogopportunity to know the school.

Keep in mind that an independent school interview is not used as a time to “trick” you. In fact, you probably know the answers to many of the questions that you will be asked. It’s not a perfect scenario, but an interviewer will do their best to get to know you in the time period allotted. This means that, in the broadest terms, they will try to understand how you spend your time – both in school and outside of school and they will try to discern what you enjoy the most and what you just tolerate in your life. Most will also provide an opportunity for you to share anything that might have been missed during the course of your conversation. It’s important that you remember that you should be yourself and be proud of your accomplishments. It’s best to think about the interview from the perspective of an application reader (should you choose to apply to the school). The interview commentary will provide them with another window into who you are. What are the things you want to be sure to highlight about yourself? What are the things about you that you want to explain in greater detail? What are the things that have occurred in your life that you wish had a different result?

As a long-time admission person, I am often surprised how many students that I interview forget that there is an important second piece to the experience– it is your opportunity to learn more about the school. The person that you are meeting with has a wide range of knowledge about the school. They are expecting that you will ask them about the things that are important to you as it relates to their school – use the opportunity! I am most impressed when I see that a student has taken the time to actually write down the questions that they would like to have answered. It shows that they cared enough about their experience at my school to prepare ahead of time.

Best of luck!

Jennifer Hines
Dean of Enrollment Management
Noble and Greenough School

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Visit from Excel Academy Charter School in East Boston

We were so happy to host Nicole Repp, Lily Ornelas and a group of 7th grade students from Excel Academy Charter School in East Boston. We hope to see you on our campus again this fall!



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