News & Opinion | March 20, 2021 3:23 pm

Elite Finishing School Teaches Students Egalitarian Lessons

The school dubbed the "hippy Hogwarts" has a broad appeal

St Donat's Castle
St Donat's Castle.
By User:Zilinsky, CC BY 2.5

Atlantic College, a finishing school located on the Welsh coast, is known to some as the “hippy Hogwarts.” How you react to that might depend on your feelings on both hippies and fictional schools for magic created by increasingly problematic authors. But Atlantic College itself continues to attract a student body from all walks of life, including royalty, refugees and the children of oligarchs.

A new article by Joseph Bullmore at Air Mail ventures into Atlantic College’s history (and prehistory). The school is housed in a 12th century structure, St. Donat’s Castle, which William Randolph Hearst — its last owner before now — bought in 1925. Among Heart’s guests over the years were John F. Kennedy, Charlie Chaplin and Winston Churchill.

Atlantic College was founded in 1962. Bullmore writes that it is a place where “the liberal beau ideal of private schooling is alive and well: rigorous but idealistic, smart but never snobby, paid education without the personal cost.” In particular, the school prohibits conspicuous displays of wealth. Minimal phone signals throughout the campus probably don’t hurt, either.

The school has been in the news lately due to Spain’s Princess Leonor preparing to attend; she is far from the only royalty to do so. And the tuition — $93,000 for 2 years — isn’t cheap. But Bullmore also points out that 60% of the students receive financial aid, including a number of full scholarships. Reading the article, one gets a sense that this school might be on to something — at the very least, it’s left a lot of alumni very satisfied.

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