Insight: What Makes a School Full?

By Cheryl Schenk Miller, Director of Enrollment Management

Throughout the admissions season, our enrollment management team fields numerous questions about the size of EPS. How many students are in a class? In a grade level? How big are your teams? How big is the campus? With each of these questions, folks are trying to understand how the size of our classes, activities, and community compare with their sense for what is ideal for their student/family.

Our factual, numerical answer to what makes a school “full” is 538. For the math fans out there, that’s the number you get when you combine thirty-six 5th graders, fifty-four students in each of the remaining Middle School grades, and eighty-five students in each of the Upper School grades. While our enrollment in the Middle School has been holding steady in that 36+54+54+54=198 pattern, we have gradually been shifting our grades from roughly seventy students to roughly eighty-five students in each grade level of the Upper School since the 2019-20 school year. With sixty-eight Class of 2022 graduates about to spread their wings and fly out of the EPS nest, we will be finally achieving that peak enrollment in the Upper School in 2022-23.

The number of students in each grade and across the school community allows opportunities to field teams, to host robust club and activity offerings. Yet we cap our classes at a maximum of eighteen students to ensure that students can connect with both their teacher and their fellow students each day. Faculty typically teach four class periods of the eight total, so they have time and bandwidth for individual students’ questions and needs before, during and after class, as well as during passing periods and office hours. Well-being support is also part of the calculus, for example, while the American School Counselor Association recommends a 250:1 ratio for students to counselors—with the national average being 424:1—our currently enrolled 516 students are supported by four school counselors at EPS (nearly twice exceeding the ASCA guideline).

We provide these robust supports for students both in and outside of the classroom because of your support. Through tuition and annual giving, EPS has a sustainable financial model which will allow us to continue supporting each student every day, as well as our faculty, programs, courses, administrative staff, campus maintenance, and professional development. And as we complete re-enrollment this week and new enrollment in the next two months, I’m reminded that although there is a number associated with “full,” the most important gauge for our students will always be their complete educational experience at EPS. “Full” is measured by the well-being, academic challenge, and community membership they feel.