Applying to private boarding schools can seem intimidating, but after you have visited potential schools and selected your favorites, it’s time to apply. Though it might feel overwhelming at first, applying to private boarding schools can be a fulfilling experience — you just need to know what to expect.
Types of Applications
If you are only applying to one or two private boarding schools, it will be easiest for you to work through each school’s website to submit your application. If you are applying to a larger number of schools, find out which common application each school accepts.
Common applications allow you to complete one standard application that is then sent to all qualifying institutions. Most private boarding schools accept the Secondary School Admission Test (SSAT) or The Association of Boarding Schools (TABS) common applications.
Some schools may ask for supplements to a common application, so be sure to check the website or ask an admissions officer what else the school might require. Most applications include a fairly standard compilation of items.
The student essay portion of an application is your student’s chance to shine. View the essays as an opportunity for students to display their personalities and share their interests and the things they care about.
While student essays are a chance for students to let the school get to know them, the parent statement is your chance to let the school get to know you. You might be asked to answer some questions; this section of the application helps the school understand your family and see your student through your eyes.
Letters of Recommendation and Transcript
Most schools ask for letters of recommendation from a school administrator such as the principal, a math teacher or an English teacher. You will also be asked to send in a transcript of your student’s academic performance and classes completed up to this point in their education.
Be sure to give teachers plenty of time to complete the recommendation forms. If the school asks for a hard copy, give each teacher an addressed and stamped envelope to send the letter in. Send your teachers thank-you notes after they complete their recommendations.
Find out if the private boarding schools you are applying to require an admissions test. Some use a standardized test like the Secondary School Admission Test (SSAT) or the Independent School Entrance Examination (ISEE). Other schools accept the PSAT, the SAT and the ACT. Requirement may vary from school to school depending on your student’s grade level.
If testing is required, schedule testing a month or more before the admissions deadline. Purchase practice test materials and hire a tutor if your student needs more help. While not the only thing on which applications are based, test scores are still very important.
Many private boarding schools like to interview potential students as part of the application process. Sometimes these interviews can be done during your visit to the campus. If you live far from the campus, the admissions officer will most likely suggest a videoconference.
Remind your student not to be nervous and to ask lots of questions. This is just as much an opportunity for students to get to know how they feel about the school as it is for the school to get to know them. Questions might be asked about the student’s past experiences at other schools, the student’s goals for the future and the student’s opinion of the school. Writing a thank-you note to the interviewer afterwards is always a good idea.
Finding the right school for your student and for your family out of all the private boarding schools in the country should be an enjoyable journey. You should feel excited about this new phase of life, so don’t stress. Don’t procrastinate turning in applications, but don’t rush either. Take your time and think about your answers carefully. As you do, the right place for your student will become clear — and you can have confidence in your decision.