Application Calendar

You should ideally begin your boarding school search more than a year in advance of when you actually want to enroll. This should give you enough time to thoroughly research schools and arrive at well-informed decisions about where to apply; this also helps ensure that you have enough time to create a thoughtful application. Below is a sample calendar to help keep you on track.

If you're a little out-of-sync with the timeline below, don't be overly worried - this is only a rough guideline. While application and testing deadlines are key dates you'll need to follow, families differ in how long they need to explore and evaluate schools. If you're facing time-constraints (e.g., you're applying past the normal application deadlines) or are having difficulties with particular parts of this process (e.g., identifying appropriate schools to visit), consider obtaining the professional advice of an educational consultant.

For additional tips and articles about the boarding school admissions process, please visit The Prep School News Archive, a co-branded newsletter between AdmissionsQuest and Boarding School Review.

Sample Application Calendar

Month Steps to Take
  • Begin with a self assessment:
    • Think about what academic, athletic, and extracurricular opportunities you're looking for
    • Consider what experiences you'd like to have in the next few years (e.g., being more independent, being exposed to students from different cultures, etc.)
  • Start researching a wide-range of boarding schools and consider how well boarding school meets those needs relative to local schooling options
  • If boarding school seems like a good option to consider, create a list of 10-20 boarding schools that seem like good choices to explore further.
  • Within this list, you'll want to have 3 groups of schools:
    • Schools where you are very likely of getting accepted (safeties)
    • Schools where you have a moderate chance of acceptance
    • Schools that will be competitive for you to get into (reaches)
  • Note: This is not always an easy exercise, particularly for families that have less time to spend researching schools. Educational consultants, who have experience matching students with boarding schools, can also be helpful resources to consider at this stage.
  • Request information from these schools:
    • Ask schools for their brochures, videos, course books, and application materials
July - August
  • After learning more about each school, narrow down your list of schools according to the key criteria that are most important to you
    • For example, a student might seriously look at 7 schools - 2 of those may be "safety" schools, 2 of those may be "reach" schools, and 3 of those may be schools where the student's likelihood of acceptance is moderate
    • These numbers are large enough to give you options, but are still small enough to be manageable from a time-management perspective
  • Schedule visits and interviews for your short-list of schools
    • Key point: a campus visit is the best (and sometimes only) way for you to see what's behind the glossy brochures, and see if a school is right for you
September - October
  • Begin visiting campuses and go on interviews
  • Check with schools to see what standardized testing is required
  • Register for SSAT, ISEE, or other necessary testing (e.g., TOEFL for international students)
  • Arrange for test preparation (e.g., test prep courses and books) as necessary
  • Begin gathering teacher references
  • Take standardized tests
  • Wrap-up school visits and interviews
  • Begin drafting essays and application
  • Complete essays and applications
  • Begin filling-out financial aid forms
January - February
  • Complete financial aid forms
  • Submit school applications and financial aid forms
    • Depending on the school, deadlines typically range from mid-January to early February
  • Early March - wait for school decision letters
  • Revisit schools where you were accepted (if possible or as necessary); begin finalizing your school choice
  • Early April - notify schools of your decision

Congratulations! Once you've accepted an offer, your school will send you detailed information on any preparations you and your family need to make for the transition to boarding school (e.g., summer reading lists, tuition payment schedules, etc.).

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