Frequently Asked Questions
THE ADMISSION PROCESS
LIFE AT BERKSHIRE
- What does Berkshire look for in an applicant?
We seek students who are motivated and able to thrive in a rigorous academic curriculum without losing sight of the world around them. Beyond the classroom, we look for a group of students who will contribute a diverse range of talents and perspectives.
- Is financial aid available?
Financial aid is awarded based on demonstrated need. Our annual budget of $4.1 million dollars is allocated to 30% of Berkshire families with an average financial aid grant of $36,000. Click here to learn more about the process.
- Does Berkshire accept the common application?
Yes, we accept both the SSAT and TABS common application. Additionally, the Berkshire application is readily available online for your convenience.
- What admission tests are required and what are the average scores?
The SSAT is required for applicants. While we evaluate all aspects of each application, Berkshire’s average percentile in this area is 65%.
- What are some important dates in the admission cycle?
For a detailed timeline, please click here.
- What should I expect on my visit and how much time should I allow?
The campus visit is one of the most important parts of the application process since your student tour guide will provide you with a window into life at the school. During your visit you will also have an interview with one of our Admission Officers, many of whom are also classroom teachers, coaches, advisors, and dorm parents. You should plan to spend roughly 2 hours on campus.
- What are the Admission requirements for international students?
All international students must take the TOEFL and submit an official score report as an indication of English proficiency. Applicants must also provide official SSAT results.
- Is financial aid available to international students?
While our budget is primarily allocated to domestic applicants, in some instances, Berkshire will award qualified international students need-based financial aid. Families must provide official documentation of their financial situation. Click here for more information.
- Are there any unique programs at Berkshire?
Supplementing our traditional college-preparatory curriculum, Berkshire is a school that offers innovative educational programs. Each hallmark program embodies the school motto, “Not just for school, but for life”. The Pro-Vita Winter Session is a week-long adventure of experiential education. Our Advanced Math/Science Research course offers students the opportunity to study with trained professionals in the medical, environmental, and scientific research fields. Through the Center for Global Learning, Berkshire has formed partnerships and exchanges with schools in France, Jordan, and Beijing. Similar opportunities are in progress with schools in Brazil, Spain, and Zambia. Finally, the Ritt Kellogg Mountain Program offers students the platform to hike, kayak, bike, ski, camp, and climb in the world-famous Berkshire region.
- Where do most Berkshire students come from?
Berkshire students represent a wide range of cultural, ethnic, socioeconomic, and religious backgrounds. Within a student body of just under 400 people, we have representatives from 27 countries and 27 states. 90% of our students are boarders.
- What is the average class size?
At Berkshire, the average class size is 12 students.
- How many Advanced Placement classes does Berkshire offer?
Students have the opportunity to choose from 17 core Advanced Placement classes. It is also possible for students to take additional AP classes (e.g. Comparative Politics) through out Independent Study Program. For a more detailed list of our course offerings, click here.
- What academic support is available and when can I meet with my teachers?
Faculty members are available during their free blocks and at meal times for extra help during the academic day. Because 90% of Berkshire’s faculty members live on campus, students have the opportunity to get extra help in faculty homes during study hours as well. Furthermore, there are faculty and student writing mentors available in our Writing Center every school night. We recognize that each student learns differently, and if more consistent support is necessary, the tutors at the Kenefick Center for Learning are available.
- Tell me about the college process.
Berkshire students are blessed with an extremely intimate college counseling process; 5 college counselors work with a graduating class of approximately 120 students. Most Juniors already know their counselor as a coach, dorm parents, or teacher prior to their official pairing. Our college counselors are proactive and spend time over the summer visiting schools. With the counselors’ awareness of the college climate and deep understanding of each applicant, our students find the right fit for the next step beyond Berkshire. Click here to learn more.
- What co-curricular activities are offered?
As co-curricular activities are central to student life, we are proud of the extensive offerings at Berkshire. For a complete listing of these programs, please visit the Student Life and Athletic sections of our webpage to learn more.
- Can I participate in an activity even if I have never done it before?
One of the main advantages of attending a smaller community-minded school like Berkshire is the opportunity to step outside of your comfort zone and find new talents. Not only is this willingness to try new things accepted, it is also encouraged. Advisors and faculty members will work with students to challenge them to take risks and discover something new about themselves. You would be hard pressed to find a graduate who did not unearth one of their lifelong passions at Berkshire.
- Tell me about Berkshire’s physical plant.
Berkshire is located on 500 pristine acres in the heart of Southwestern Massachusetts just 5 miles from downtown Great Barrington. The Appalachian Trail runs along the ridge that frames campus and the school maintains its own massive trail system ideal for hiking, mountain biking, and trail running. With a plant value of $190 million, Berkshire boasts some of the best facilities of any boarding school in the country.
- What changes are happening to the physical plant?
To complement our state-of-the-art facilities and newly renovated Berkshire Hall, the school inaugurated the Bellas/Dixon Math and Science Center in the Fall of 2012 to provide the best in modern technology and support our innovative math and science programs. In March of 2013, a new Fine Arts Center will be opened in a wing of Berkshire Hall, bringing the visual arts into the heart of the academic core of the school. In December 2011, a large-scale solar panel installation came online on a parcel of property across the street from the main campus. This two-megawatt, eight acre solar project is the largest of its kind at any boarding school in the U.S. and promises to offset 40% of the school’s energy use. It also represents a significant milestone in Berkshire’s mission of carbon neutrality. To read more about recent campus improvements, click here.
- How is the food?
The food at Berkshire is prepared by a smaller boutique food service. As part of our efforts in sustainability, a huge emphasis is placed on buying local and much of the food produced in the dining hall is created based on seasonal selections. There is a large variety to each meal with a range of prepared food items, as well as alternative staples like cereal and fruit bar at breakfast, and deli selections, soup, and salad bar at lunch and dinner.
- What happens if I get sick?
The health center at Berkshire is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and staffed with qualified medical personnel who will administer basic care. If additional attention is needed, transportation will be provided to local specialists or the Fairview Hospital, located a mere 10 minutes from campus.
- What do people do on the weekends?
Since 90% of our students live on campus, most students remain at school each weekend to spend time with friends and take advantage of campus-wide activities. Examples of weekend activities include night athletic contests, dances, coffee houses, Winter Carnival and Dorm Wars, Trivia Night, ski trips, hiking, mountain biking, and vans to nearby Great Barrington and other shopping destinations.