Admissions

Boarding school admissions can be competitive. Our articles provide helpful resources to give your child a leg up on the admissions process. We’ll help you discover the best ways to apply, provide tips on staying organized, and explain why school visits are so important. Should you read your child’s admissions essay? Are test prep materials helpful? Why do I need recommendations? Find the answers to these questions and more here.
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We parents are always full of questions when it comes to boarding schools. Here are my thoughts about some of the more common questions I receive.

Should I read my child's admissions essay?
 
Like a good attorney would answer, "It depends." I am a firm believer in not writing your child's admissions essay, for sure. By the way, the essay in question is the one which appears in the application. Typically the instruction which you will see is that the answers must be written in the candidate's own handwriting and must be her own work.
 
Take time to explain to your child that what she writes and how it looks add up to a very powerful impression of her for the school's admissions' staff. Unlike a test or examination there are no time limits when she writes her essay. She can even do a rough draft if she likes and then make a fair copy, as the English say, That way the content not only represents her best effort but the presentation is also her best effort. Just like she wouldn't turn up for the interview wearing grungy clothes, she shouldn't submit an essay on a formal application which looks untidy. That to me makes no sense.

Should I buy SSAT/ISEE practice test materials for my child?
 
Standardized admissions tests are only one component in your child's admissions portfolio. But these tests help the admissions staff determine whether your child is capable of doing the academic work at the schools to which . . . read more
It goes without saying that you need to visit any school to which you are thinking of sending your child. Your educational consultant may have given the schools glowing reports. Your great uncle has always spoken about his years at one of the schools on your short list with great fondness. In fact he has given generously to his alma mater. One of your colleagues in the Boston office has a daughter at another school on your short list. She apparently loves her school's equestrian program. But that's their opinion. You and your child need to set foot on each campus on your short list, scope each one out and use your own judgement about whether your child will be happy there for three or four years. Here is a list of things to look for and questions to ask.

Things To Look For and Check Out
 
The dorm rooms
Given that your child will spend several hours a day studying in her dorm room, be sure to review what can and cannot be brought into the room. The school will have lists, of course, of things they will not allow - hot plates, microwaves, mini fridges, etc. - but ask.
 
The meal arrangements
Allergies? Gluten-free? Lactose intolerant? Vegan? Other dietary restrictions/requirements? All need to be discussed and clearly understood.
 
The quality of supervision
As I have pointed out many times in other articles about boarding schools, they take their role as your surrogate very seriously. The code of conduct and 24/7 supervision, however, may strike . . . read more
If you are thinking about boarding school for your child, you will probably end up exploring the TABS site. The site has many useful features among them the Admission Application Form.

What's involved? The Boarding Schools Admission Application aims to simplify the applications process. Back in the 90s each member of TABS had its own application process and forms. As a result, if you applied to three schools, you had three completely different sets of applications to complete and submit. TABS identified the forms which most boarding schools commonly used. Thus was the Boarding Schools Admission Application Form created.

The manner in which individual boarding schools use the admission application package is up to them. The application package consists of the following forms:

  •     General Information
  •     Applicant Questionnaire
  •     English Teacher Recommendation Form
  •     Math Teacher Recommendation Form
  •     Head/Principal/Counselor Recommendation Form

Some boarding schools will use the entire set of forms. Others will just use the Recommendation Forms. And so on. Check with each school's admissions office to find out how they want their application prepared.

Whats next?  Download the forms. You can also view the forms online. They are all in Acrobat's PDF format which is viewable using the free Acrobat Reader.
Determine the forms for each school to which you are applying by contacting the admissions offices.
Also determine the additional forms individual schools may require as part of their admissions application package.
Make a list of admissions applications deadlines.
Make a list of financial aid application deadlines.
Schedule school visits over the . . . read more
There are essentially three ways to apply to boarding schools.

1. Complete the application which the school has on its web site.
2. Complete the common application which you can find on the SSAT web site.
3. Complete the common application which you can find on the TABS web site.

Applications on Individual School Web Sites
If you are applying to just one or perhaps two schools, then it might make the most sense to simply go to those schools' web sites and complete the applications right there. Many schools allow you to complete the main application form online. You can also pay for the application fee with your credit or debit card online as well. But if you choose to use the school's application forms, just remember that there are specific to that school and cannot be used for applications to other schools. That's the basic difference between applying on a school web site versus using one of the common applications.

The SSAT Standard Application Online
The Secondary School Admission Test organization has developed a Standard Application Online (SAO) which most of their member schools accept. This simplifies the applications process since the SAO includes all the forms most schools use: Student Information Form,  Student Questionnaire, Parent Statement, Teacher Recommendation Forms (English, Math, School Head/Counselor) and Academic Record (Transcripts). Best of all, the SAO is included at no extra charge when you register to take the SSAT test.

The Boarding Schools Admission Application Form
The Boarding Schools Admission Application Form offers a convenient . . . read more
 
I wish that during the 15 years I worked in boarding school admissions,I had kept track of how many students I interviewed.  I imagine it’s a greater number than I would even guess.  I loved to interview students and have that time to really get to know them -- who they are, what they hope to do, what they are looking for, how they might fit in at my school, what they bring with them.  Sometimes, it was very clear to me that a student was nervous -- perhaps it was their first time in an interview situation.  So I would start with “Are you nervous?”  It’s amazing how identifying that fear could somehow easily dissipate it as well.  From there we were able to talk comfortably with one another and explore what we wanted to explore.Many of the students I work with in boarding school guidance have not interviewed before this point, which makes sense given their age.  I like to guide them beforehand with how they might be more prepared -- both in terms of what they might be asked in an interview and what they might ask, as well as how to make a good impression.

What should I wear?
 I’m glad you asked!  This is one of the first things I ask my students who are planning their visits!  My general rule of thumb is to look neat and clean, and be comfortable.  I suggest not wearing jeans, but also not wearing a coat and  . . . read more
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Admissions

Interviews and Visits

Boarding school visits are an integral part of the admissions process. Despite the rave reviews of friends, family and consultants, you and your child should scope out each school and use your own judgment to determine if he/she will be happy there. This section will help you compile a checklist of things to look for and questions to ask.

Admissions Overview

This section provides a glimpse into the boarding school admissions process. From how to apply to the 10 things you must not forget, our tips and resources can be a huge benefit to successfully navigating boarding school applications. Find answers to the most common questions, learn when it’s too late to apply and get familiar with the Boarding School Admission Application