Frequently Asked Questions

About the School

List of 5 frequently asked questions.

  • Q. At what grade do most students enter the school?

    A. Each year students apply at all grade levels. However, the primary entry point is ninth grade.

  • Q. Does the school have a religious affiliation?

    A. While Mercersburg has its spiritual roots in the Reformed or United Church of Christ tradition, the Academy has no formal relationship with any faith. Our school minister leads a voluntary, ecumenical chapel service in the Protestant tradition every Sunday morning. All students and community members are welcome, though attendance is not mandatory.
  • Q. Do faculty members live on campus?

    A. Yes, the vast majority of faculty members live in campus housing, while the rest of the faculty live nearby. All faculty members have dorm duties in some capacity.
  • Q. Is the school closed for holidays and breaks?

    A. The school is closed during major school breaks, such as Thanksgiving, winter break, and spring break. However, during other breaks, such as long weekends, the school remains open.
  • Q. How is Mercersburg accredited?

    A. Mercersburg is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools and approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

    In addition, the Academy is a member of the National Association of Independent Schools, The Association of Boarding Schools, the Association of Independent Schools of Greater Washington, the Council for Spiritual and Ethical Education, the Association of Delaware Valley Independent Schools, the Pennsylvania Association of Independent Schools, and the Secondary School Admission Test Board.

Applying

List of 7 frequently asked questions.

  • Q. What does Mercersburg look for in applicants?

    A. Mercersburg looks for academic achievement and promise, as shown by a student’s transcripts, test scores, and teacher recommendations. We also pay close attention to personal qualities, which we measure through motivation, character, extracurricular interests, and the ability to adapt to the Mercersburg community.
  • Q. Are "yes" and "no" the only decisions that you might make on my child's application?

    A. We often receive more applicants than we have space available, which means some applicants may be placed in a wait pool. If the opportunity to use our wait pool arises, the admissions committee will choose the student who best fits the available opening.
  • Q. How competitive is the applicant pool?

    A. Each year, approximately 800 students interview for 150-160 available spaces. Selectivity may be influenced by a family’s request for financial aid, as Mercersburg receives more requests for financial aid than it is able to meet.
  • Q. I live a long way from Mercersburg. How can I meet with someone from the admission team?

    A. Please contact the Office of Admission at 717-328-6173. If you are unable to visit campus, Admission Officers may be available to meet with you while traveling domestically and internationally. Or, Admission Officers may choose to schedule a meeting with you via Skype or FaceTime.
  • Q. What will my interview be like?

    A. An admission officer will meet separately with you and your parent(s) or guardian(s). The interview is an evaluative session in which you can ask questions about Mercersburg while the admission officer gets a better sense of your academic, athletic, and artistic goals. Each interview lasts about 30 to 45 minutes.
  • Q. What testing does Mercersburg require?

    A. Mercersburg requires that all applicants to the ninth and tenth grades submit SSAT (Seconday School Admission Test) results, and that all applicants to the eleventh grade submit PSAT (Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test), SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test), or ACT results. All applicants to the twelfth grade and/or PG year must submit SAT or ACT results. Students whose primary language is not English must demonstrate fluency by taking the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language).
  • Q. Do I need a special visa to study at Mercersburg?

    A. We welcome any and all students who hold the appropriate documentation to study in the United States. Mercersburg provides assistance to international students applying for an F-1 student visa.

Tuition and Fees

List of 7 frequently asked questions.

  • Q. Will my application for financial aid influence my child’s application to Mercersburg?

    A. While Mercersburg has a generous financial-aid program, the budget is limited and we receive far more requests for financial aid than we can meet. We will not extend an offer of admission to students whose financial need cannot be met. Thus, by applying for financial aid, a child is entering a more competitive segment of our applicant pool.
  • Q. I am a non-working parent. How does this impact my application for financial aid?

    A. Mercersburg imputes a salary for each non-working parent, excepting all non-working parents with children too young to enter school, and/or non-working parents unable to work as a result of a disability or retirement. The impact of each parents’ employment status is considered on an individual basis.
  • Q. Are student assets used in calculating a family’s financial need?

    A. When considering available resources that can be used to fund a student’s education, Mercersburg may consider any of the following: a student’s savings; investments; trust funds; 529 funds; or any other assets in the student’s name, held for a student for any reason, or restricted in any way. The general rule is that a student’s assets are equally distributed over his or her time at Mercersburg, plus four years of college/university.
  • Q. We have multiple children in tuition-charging schools. How does this impact our financial aid application?

    A. Mercersburg considers all tuition expenses that a family has, including the student(s) applying for financial aid at Mercersburg; however, Mercersburg does not subsidize graduate school for parents and/or siblings.
  • Q. In the event of divorce or separation, who is required to complete the financial aid application?

    A. For parents who are divorced, separated, or have never been married, we require each parent or family member to complete a separate financial-aid application. Mercersburg expects all parents, guardians, domestic partners, and/or step-parents to play an appropriate role in financing and supporting their student’s education.
  • Q. Do I have to apply for financial aid every year?

    A. Yes. Every family must complete a financial-aid application for each year of enrollment to determine eligibility. Returning families need only submit an updated Parent Financial Statement and their most recent tax forms. Changes in income, expenses, and assets will affect your Estimated Family Contribution.
  • Q. Will returning students receive the same financial aid package from year to year?

    A. Mercersburg’s first commitment is to returning students, but eligibility is determined annually. Every family must complete a financial-aid application for each year of enrollment to determine eligibility. Changes in income, expenses, and assets will impact your Estimated Family Contribution.

Academics

List of 4 frequently asked questions.

  • Q. What is the advising system like at Mercersburg?

    A. All students have an adviser who helps them choose courses and extracurricular activities, as well as discuss any academic or personal issues.  

    Mercersburg advisers communicate with students and other faculty throughout the year to help prevent problems or quickly resolve problems as they arise.
  • Q. What if my child is having academic difficulty?

    A. The learning services program helps students develop study skills and learning efficiency, and counsels students who are struggling academically. Close relationships among students, teachers, and advisers help us quickly recognize challenges and address them early.
  • Q. Does Mercersburg have Saturday classes?

    A. No. We hold classes Monday through Friday, from 8:50 a.m. until 3:40 p.m., except for Tuesdays, when classes end at 2:25 p.m.
  • Q. Does Mercersburg have different academic tracks?

    A. Mercersburg offers college preparatory, honors and AP courses. We also provide independent and directed study for students who wish to take classes beyond the existing curriculum.

Campus Life

List of 6 frequently asked questions.

  • Q. How is the food at the dining hall?

    A. Students regularly rate the food in the dining hall as good to excellent and enjoy the variety.  Breakfast and some dinners are served buffet style. Lunch and some dinners are served family style.
  • Q. Are sports mandatory?

    A. No, although 70 percent of students choose to compete in interscholastic sports. All students in ninth, 10th, and 11th grades are required to participate in a performance-group activity (or PGA) in each academic term, while seniors must participate in a PGA in at least two of three terms. PGA options for students include sports and other activities, including Mercersburg Outdoor Education (MOE), community service, or the Garden Club.
  • Q. What are weekends like at Mercersburg?

    A. Students may be involved with meetings or activities associated with one of more than 35 clubs and organizations. They may be competing on one of our 29 interscholastic athletic teams. On-campus events include movies; dances; athletic events; student performances in dance, theatre and music; and much more. Off-campus events include concerts; theatre performances; museum exhibitions; athletic events; shopping in nearby Washington, D.C., and Baltimore; as well as outdoor events, such as skiing, biking, hiking, and kayaking trips, coordinated by our director of outdoor education.

    With written permission, students may spend 10 weekends off campus, including a long weekend each term. Please see our activities calendar for a complete list of weekend opportunities.
  • Q. What is security like at Mercersburg?

    A. Maintaining high standards of safety is a priority at Mercersburg. Our Campus Safety Office provides 24-hour patrol on campus.
  • Q. Is transportation provided for students?

    A. Yes. Mercersburg will help arrange transportation for scheduled weekends and major school breaks to and from Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) and Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI), as well as to Amtrak stations in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and Baltimore, Maryland. When available, school drivers may provide necessary transportation, and we also arrange transportation with local car services.

    Students are responsible for the cost of transportation, which is billed to their student account. However, students should be prepared with extra funds should travel delays or cancellations occur. To help cut transportation costs, students may consider traveling in groups to and from airports or stations.

    Contact Carol Ecton, transportation coordinator (carol_ecton@mercersburg.edu), for more information.
  • Q. Do students at Mercersburg wear a uniform?

    A. No, but we do have a dress code.

Boarding Student

List of 5 frequently asked questions.

  • Q. What is the difference between a boarding student and a day student?

    A. A boarding student lives on campus in one of Mercersburg’s seven dormitories, while a day student lives off campus, typically within easy driving distance of Mercersburg.
  • Q. What are the student rooms like?

    A. Boarding students live with a roommate in one of our seven dormitories. All dorm rooms are air conditioned, equipped with wireless and Ethernet Internet connections, and furnished with beds, dressers, desks, and desk chairs. Many common rooms in the dormitories are equipped with kitchenettes, televisions, and computers. Faculty members and their families also live in each dorm.
  • Q. Can my child bring a computer?

    A. All students are expected to arrive at Mercersburg with an iPad 2 or newer version. Mercersburg’s campus has a wireless network in all academic and dormitory spaces and most public spaces, so an iPad with WiFi will be sufficient and 3G/4G models are not necessary.

    Students may also bring a personal laptop or desktop computer. Shared computers and printers are available in several locations around campus, including many dormitory common rooms, Lenfest Hall, and other locations. Both iOS (Apple) and Windows operating systems are supported on the campus network.
  • Q. How often can a boarding student go home?

    A. In addition to scheduled vacations—Thanksgiving, winter break, spring break—students may stay off campus for 10 regular weekends during the year.

    Seniors may be off-campus for 12 weekends each year.

    Students must fill out a weekend form and submit it to the dean’s office prior to leaving.
  • Q. How are roommates assigned?

    A. New students are assigned to rooms and roommates, though requests made on individual rooming questionnaires are considered. Returning students can pick their roommates, and their housing assignment is decided by lottery.

Day Student

List of 6 frequently asked questions.

Founded in 1893 in the heart of Pennsylvania and the Mid-Atlantic, Mercersburg is a private, coed, college preparatory boarding school with approximately 435 students (15 percent are day), grades 9-12 and postgraduate.
We offer 170 courses, including AP and Honors, more than $7 million in financial aid, 26 varsity sports, and a state-of-the-art performing and visual arts center.
Located 90 minutes from Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, and within easy driving distance of New York City, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh.
300 East Seminary Street, Mercersburg, PA 17236
GPS Address: 10951 Buchanan Trail West, Mercersburg, PA 17236
717-328-6173