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What I Wish I Knew Before Applying to Boarding/Prep School

ursulaisnotevilursulaisnotevil 16 replies1 threads Junior Member
I believe I have seen something like this elsewhere, but I decided to post one based on my personal experiences. So, here goes: A list of the things I wish someone had told me before applying.

DISCLAIMER: These are all my own opinions and just because they are observations from my experience doesn't mean it will necessarily be your experience as well.

1. If you can... VISIT THE SCHOOLS!
- You can get a feel of the campus
- You can ask students questions
- I had much better experiences getting interviewed by actual AO officers rather than alumni. (I'll elaborate later in this post)
- Better judge of location

2. If you can... INTERVIEW WITH ACTUAL AOs!
- My experiences with AOs > interviews with alumni
- Alumni may not be able to answer all questions pertaining to campus, student life, academics, etc due to the fact it may have been 20 years since they attended.

3. Interviews? They MATTER!
- AOs like you to be yourself rather than pretend to be all-around good at athletics, academics, etc. (If you actually are, then go for it)
- Try to do all interviews as early in the admission season as possible. That way, if you don't like the school after the interview, you aren't forced to complete the application because it is paid for
- Similar to the first point, show yourself to AOs as a human. Humans have FLAWS. They like to see people that are not already perfect, but rather people who will improve immensely should they attend supposed AO's BS.

4. Applications? This goes without being said but... They MATTER!
- Do NOT (and I repeat DO NOT) write too many essays at once or within too tight of a time limit.
- It is very obvious on my application which essays I rushed and which I took my time on. The apps where I wrote my best work tended to be the schools that I got accepted in.
- Writing too many essays at once made my inspiration dry up and caused a heavy writing block that not only affected my application, but also my schoolwork.

5. Most everyone wants to be perfect... but be HUMAN!
- Don't be afraid to include extra projects unrelated to school in your application! In my opinion, they showcase the creativity and incentive to learn that often goes unseen through test scores and transcripts.
- Be proud of what makes you different! Diverse communities are important.

6. Stand out, but... be CONSISTENT!
- If there is an activity you are passionate about that you talk about in your essays, talk about them in your interviews (or vice versa).
- Showcase your entire flower garden of interests, but show off your favorite, the one with the biggest bloom.

7. Communication? It is KEY!
- Stay in contact with AOs if you can.
- Email the heads of various departments you are interested in! (theatre, soccer, etc.)
- Don't be afraid to ask questions.

8. Miscellaneous Advice/Regret Tidbits
- I wish I had submitted my application earlier instead of doubting myself and overloading it with awards and accomplishments to the point where I submitted it right on the deadline.
- On YouTube I found vlogs or videos of/from the school that have been made by their actual students. It was a nice l way to gauge quality of work (based off videos FOR school) and student life (based on vlogs)
- Don't apply to all the top schools across to row just because they are the top schools. More schools mean more essays, interviews, and stress.

Hopefully this will be helpful for those applying for a BS Class of 2022 and beyond, from PG to third-formers. Feel free to add any advice. I just wanted to share my experiences so I may hopefully help any BS hopefuls out there.
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Replies to: What I Wish I Knew Before Applying to Boarding/Prep School

  • Golfgr8Golfgr8 1636 replies24 threads Senior Member
    edited May 9
    Very comprehensive post above. I would add from our kiddo’s perspective a couple of things we did not know and/or would have liked to have known.

    * Many students at BS are “repeats” - we did not realize how many until we experienced Revisit Days at several schools - then later on upon attending BS. This is interesting on many levels and is worthy of its own thread. It’s not uncommon. Along with this, there is a large age range per class. Kiddo’s first year class had students who ranged in age from 13-16 years old. There are “repeats” who are also repeating courses in science and math - some international students - choosing to do this for grades or being very proficient. Some repeat for athletics, it seems. Some students whose families can afford to have them repeat, also. Not judging, just stating facts.

    * There are some schools that seem to have more JBS students than others. We did not even know @ JBS. There seems to be a number of kids who attend JBS for athletics or to get a leg up for BS preparation.

    * If you go decide to go to a “highly competitive” school, there will be competition - sometimes competition about things you didn’t even think there should be competitiveness about.
    edited May 9
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  • CaliMexCaliMex 2248 replies35 threads Senior Member
    @Golfgr8 What do you mean by "highly competitive"? What kinds of things do kids seem to compete about?


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  • Happytimes2001Happytimes2001 2168 replies18 threads Senior Member
    1. Connect with the AO. Ask questions, even if you can assume most of the answers from the website. Write an email or two and reiterate your interest in the school. This is the most important thing. The AO wants to know if they accept you that you WILL come especially if you are applying to other similar schools in the same area.
    2. Get to know the school. Listen to the head of school. What do they value? It that a fit for you/your child? If so, then pursue it, if it's a great school with an impressive rep but doesn't fit your kid apply elsewhere.
    3. Get good recommendations. Let's face it some people write really great recommendations that tell a story. Others write flat stats and details. This can really make you stand out or fall flat.
    4. If you have a sport, talk to the coach. Send your stats/video etc. If you are on a Club team make sure your club sends a recommendation even it it isn't required. If you regularly see the coach at events say hi and introduce yourself ( not every 8th grader can do this). But the ones who make a connection have a serious edge. Same goes for arts, music etc. These are your unique features.
    5. Don't conflate high SSAT scores with high acceptance rates. At many schools there are tons of kids with 95%+ scores.
    6. Don't apply to just PEA and PA. Find YOUR school.
    7. Look outside NE. There are some great schools. Also, if you come from one area do not apply only to schools in that area as your competition will be much tougher. Even worse if you are truly local or need FA.
    8. Picture yourself at that school. Can you really envision it? It it your dream or just something to impress others? Is this school your best path?
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