The Taft School: A Beacon of Educational Excellence

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

two female high school students looking at the camera

The Taft School: A Beacon of Educational Excellence

Founded in 1890 by Horace Dutton Taft, brother of the 27th President of the United States, William Howard Taft, The Taft School is more than just an institution of learning. Nestled in the picturesque town of Watertown, Connecticut, the school represents a tradition of academic rigor, commitment to character, and a culture of leadership that has inspired countless students for well over a century.

What is The Taft School Known for?

The Taft School is a prestigious private, coeducational institution renowned as one of New England’s leading prep schools due to its demanding academic standards and discerning admissions criteria.

Horace Dutton Taft’s vision for the school was clear: He sought to establish a place where young minds could be cultivated academically, morally, and socially. As inscribed in the school’s motto, “Non ut sibi ministretur sed ut ministret” – not to be served but to serve, the emphasis has always been on each student’s more significant responsibility towards their community and the world.

college students studying and reading together in library education concepts

Through the decades, the school has witnessed several evolutions in terms of its physical infrastructure and educational philosophy. From its early days with a mere handful of students, The Taft School has grown into a revered establishment hosting a vibrant community of over 600 students worldwide.

Campus and Facilities

Walking through Taft’s sprawling 226-acre campus, one can’t help but be enamored by the harmonious blend of historical and modern architecture. The dominant Collegiate Gothic style, as seen in the main building and the dormitories, speaks of the school’s rich heritage. Meanwhile, state-of-the-art facilities like the science center, the arts and humanities building, and the athletic complex ensure students have access to the best resources.

Not just a place for academic pursuits, the campus is home to a myriad of activities. The Moorhead Academic Center, for instance, is a hub of intellectual endeavors, while the Bingham Auditorium witnesses a confluence of cultural events, from music concerts to theater productions.

Alumni and Legacy

With its illustrious history, it’s no surprise that the school has produced a bevy of notable alumni. Taft alumni have left indelible marks in diverse fields, from statesmen to artists, entrepreneurs to scientists.

But more than their professional achievements, what truly stands out is the embodiment of the school’s ethos in their lives. Many alumni frequently credit their time at Taft as pivotal, shaping their careers, values, perspectives, and very essence.

What is the Academic Experience Like at the Taft School?

Its dedication to holistic education is at the heart of The Taft School’s mission. While academic excellence remains paramount, Taft places equal emphasis on character development, leadership, and service.

The curriculum is challenging, pushing students to think critically and delve deep into subjects. From humanities and the sciences to arts and mathematics, courses are designed to foster curiosity, creativity, and a genuine love for learning. This is further augmented by a dedicated faculty that goes above and beyond the call of duty, often becoming mentors and lifelong guides for their students.

Taft provides a selection of over 200 courses each semester, encompassing both mandatory and optional subjects. Additionally, Taft students can pursue studies off-campus for a semester, design their unique course curriculum, or join classes through the Global Online Academy.

two students in a science class

However, life at Taft isn’t confined to classrooms. The school boasts an impressive range of extracurricular activities. Whether it’s the rousing debates at the Model United Nations, the athletic prowess displayed on the football field, or the soul-stirring performances of the school orchestra, there’s an avenue for every talent and passion.

Community service is also an integral part of the Taft experience. Students are encouraged to involve themselves in various community outreach programs if not required. From tutoring local children to participating in global initiatives, Taft Rhinos, as they’re lovingly called, are often seen making a difference in the world.

How Hard is it to Get Into Taft?

Like many other elite prep schools in the United States, the Taft School is known for its high academic standards, comprehensive extracurricular programs, and commitment to fostering holistic student development. Because of its reputation, gaining admission to Taft is notably competitive. Let’s delve deeper into the various factors that contribute to its selectivity:

Admissions Rate

The exact admissions rate can vary from year to year. Currently, Taft’s admission rate is around 19% compared to the average acceptance rate for boarding schools at 58%. But it’s important to note that Taft, due to its esteemed status, often attracts many applicants. Many hopeful students apply, but only a fraction get admitted, making the acceptance rate relatively low compared to many other institutions.

Academic Rigor

Taft places a strong emphasis on academic achievement. The school seeks students who excel in their current studies and demonstrate the potential to thrive in Taft’s challenging educational environment. High grades, difficult courses, and a verified love for learning can all bolster an applicant’s chances.

Extracurricular Excellence

Beyond academics, Taft values students who have shown initiative, leadership, and commitment in extracurricular activities. Whether it’s sports, arts, community service, or other pursuits, a track record of involvement and achievement outside the classroom can be a significant asset during admissions.

Interviews and Recommendations

An interview, often a part of the application process, gives the school a chance to get to know the applicant better. A successful interview, coupled with strong letters of recommendation, can significantly enhance an applicant’s profile. Taft seeks students who are not just academically gifted but are also genuine, collaborative, and possess qualities that align with the school’s values.

Diversity and Global Perspective

With a vision to prepare students for a globalized world, Taft often looks for students from diverse backgrounds, cultures, and experiences. International applicants, students with unique life stories, or those who bring a fresh perspective can have an edge.

The SSAT Test

Many prep schools, including Taft, require students to take the Secondary School Admission Test (SSAT). A strong performance on this test can play a crucial role in the admissions decision.

Gaining admission to Taft is undoubtedly challenging, given its selectivity and high standards. However, students who exhibit a combination of academic prowess, extracurricular achievements, character, and alignment with the school’s ethos stand a good chance. It’s always beneficial for prospective students to approach the application holistically, ensuring that every component—from essays to interviews—reflects their best self.

How Much Does it Cost to Attend Taft?

The cost of attending a prestigious institution like The Taft School isn’t merely a reflection of its academic offerings but also encompasses the holistic experience it provides to its students. Understanding the financial aspect is crucial if you’re considering Taft for your educational journey. Let’s break down the costs associated with attending this esteemed institution:

2023-24 Costs
Boarding Tuition (including room and board) $72,000
Day Tuition $53,500
Books and spending money (estimated) $2,000


The most significant portion of the cost is the tuition fee. This fee covers the core academic instruction provided by the school. Tuition rates can vary depending on whether a student opts for boarding or day status. Generally, boarding students have a higher tuition rate because of the added costs of lodging and related amenities.

Room and Board

For boarding students, the room and board fee covers on-campus housing and meal plans. This cost ensures that students have a comfortable living environment and receive nutritious meals.

Books and Supplies

Academic courses often require textbooks, lab equipment, and other essential supplies. Some courses, especially advanced or elective ones, may have additional costs associated with special materials or equipment.

Those seeking admission to Taft have the opportunity to apply for financial aid. An annual reapplication is necessary if you’re a current beneficiary of this aid. For families who applied for aid during the initial admission process and continue to meet the financial criteria, the aid remains assured.

four boarding school student looking at the camera

However, if you didn’t seek aid during admissions, any future requests for aid should be based on a significant shift in your financial status. It’s essential to note that aid is only guaranteed if it was sought during the application phase.

Proudly, Taft assists 35% of its student body through its substantial $9.3 million financial aid budget. The school is devoted to collaborating closely with families to make education at Taft attainable. However, they can only ensure they meet some families’ financial requirements. Aid decisions focus on that year’s established need and budget availability, not academic or extracurricular achievements.

In Conclusion

Institutions like The Taft School stand out as beacons of holistic development in a world where education is increasingly being reduced to mere rote learning and exam scores. Here, education is not just about acquiring knowledge but the cultivation of character, the nurturing of leadership, and the instillation of a commitment to service.

As Taft continues its journey into its second century, one can only expect it to keep lighting the way for generations of students, inspiring them to be the best versions of themselves and to make meaningful contributions to the world.

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Allow AdmissionSight to help you showcase your best when submitting your college applications this fall. Reach out to us today to learn more about our services.



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