How to Apply to Boarding School

How to Apply to Boarding School
There are several ways to apply to boarding school. We explain how the process works.

You have a couple of ways to apply to boarding school. Choose the method which is easiest for you.

Apply to the Individual Schools

You can always ask the schools to send you an applications package. Many schools have a 'request information' link on their websites. This will explain the applications procedure for that specific school. You will receive all the applications materials on paper. Complete these by hand or use a typewriter if you still have one around (remember typewriters?). Then snail mail the completed applications to the school.

Most schools will also have online applications. Online application forms have the advantage of saving time for the school because the data gets loaded right into their admissions database. The procedure varies from school to school but basically will have some sort of secure log-in where you will find the instructions on how to apply. You complete some forms online. Others, like the teacher recommendation forms, you will download and print.

Use a Common Application

The SSAT offers an online application service they call The Standard Application Online (SAO). Or use the Gateway To Prep Schools Application. This greatly simplifies the applications process for schools that use it. You only have to complete one application which is then transmitted to the schools which you specify.

This video explains the SAO.

Stay Organized

Stay organized by using our Applications Calendar. There are many deadlines. And they won't all be the same at different schools. Always submit your application as soon as you can, in any event no later than 2 or 3 weeks before the deadline.

Stay on top of the teacher recommendations and transcripts. Don't leave these until the last minute. Transcripts take time to prepare and certify. Teachers are busy people who will appreciate lots of advance time to draft a thoughtful recommendation for your child.

Pay the application fees. Most schools will accept credit card payments online. Let the school know if you cannot afford the application fees.

This video explains how to use the Gateway To Prep Schools site.

What happens after you apply?

If you applied to a school with a January deadline, you will receive an admissions letter in mid-March. If it is a thin envelope, you probably were rejected. If it is a thick envelope, it will contain an acceptance letter together with forms which must be completed and returned together with a deposit in order to hold your place in the class. It is also possible that the school didn't accept you just yet, but instead put you on a waitlist. If that's the case you will have to wait until sometime in April before hearing whether or not you have a place.


Remember that every application to private school goes through a thorough review process. The more competitive the school, the more exhaustive the review process becomes. So, the question we parents want to be answered is simply: how do we make sure our child's application gets to that final, all-important "Approved" stack of folders. Put another way, how do we ensure that our child's application has legs? (Having legs is an expression that speaks to the endurance of whatever is supposed to have legs.) With respect to admissions applications, the idea is to advance your child's application from one stage of the process to the next until finally, you achieve a positive outcome.

International Students

If you live overseas and are thinking about sending your child to a private school in the United States, pay attention to the following five admissions tips for international students. I am assuming that you are not American citizens or green card holders and that English is not your first language. Many students from countries outside the United States want to attend American private schools. International students make up about 15% of the student population in American boarding schools, according to The Association of Boarding Schools.

This video explains how to obtain a student visa so you can study in the U.S.

You have other options if your application is rejected. A private school does NOT have to accept your child. Private schools can be as picky as they want to be and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it. Unlike public schools which must take every student who resides in their district, private schools select their students on the basis of certain standards and, most importantly, how the application will fit into the school community.

Questions? Contact us on Facebook. @boardingschoolreview

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