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When will applications become available?

novaboymomnovaboymom 6 replies5 threads New Member
My son was hoping to look at a few applications and possibly start them during the summer. However, applications are not yet available for any of the boarding schools that he is considering. Approximately, when will applications be posted? Is there anywhere that he can find sample applications from past years? Thank you.
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Replies to: When will applications become available?

  • buuzn03buuzn03 1860 replies16 threads Senior Member
    If I remember correctly from four years ago, the actual application doesn’t open until October 1. However, schools will schedule interviews and tours starting early/mid September (some will do visits over summer but without interviews...it all depends on the school.
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  • novaboymomnovaboymom 6 replies5 threads New Member
    Thank you! The majority of my son's summer camps and activities have been canceled. So, we thought this might be a good opportunity to get a head start on the application. However, it sounds like he will have to wait until the fall. Thanks again for your response!
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  • parentofnicekidparentofnicekid 49 replies3 threads Junior Member
    edited May 15
    If you are willing to post what schools you are looking at, I'm happy to post the essays that were required for this year at SAS/SPS/D/Choate, if that would help. I'm sure other parents would be willing to also. I think it's a reasonable thing to try to get started on. I don't know if this would be verboten though...Also, I'm sure you realize that just because a question was used this past cycle doesn't mean it will be reused.
    edited May 15
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  • CalliemomofgirlsCalliemomofgirls 412 replies16 threads Member
    In my mind, the applications were available in early fall. But I also recall being able to view the questions from the prior year, both on GW and SAO. Of course, they do change every year.
    However, I still think you can prepare. Why?
    Most of the preparation doesn't involve the questions themselves. To me, the prep is in knowing what you want to say, and then finding the best way to use the questions to get there. (I work in media, so I definitely lean toward "give me the questions you want me to use to give you my answers."). Note that of course - you have to be good at this. And, you MUST ANSWER THEIR QUESTION. So please don't understand that I'm saying to ignore the questions.
    But the first step, the most important step, is getting to know your DK, and working together with DKs to get to the nitty gritty of what they offer.
    We also brainstormed personal stories and made a huge list (well maybe 20?) of stories that illustrated her strengths, activities, etc. We then honed those down to a smaller list that we would potentially pull from for essays. (And use the extra stories as potential one-off essays or short answers or interview tidbits.)
    We worked together to create a master document that DD used to drive her answers.
    Also, sh did SAO essays first. So she had one solid, good set of essays that we felt confident included everything she wanted to present about herself. Then, she used those essays as a base for answering Gateway essays. She purposely selected GW essays that allowed the least amount of tweaking. And short answers we pulled from those stories that rounded out her story.
    Bottom line: you can still make the working document, and in fact, I think it's a blessing not a curse not to be tied down to questions just yet. (But checking last years' questions is a great idea just to have a sense for what Q's looks like.)
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  • CalliemomofgirlsCalliemomofgirls 412 replies16 threads Member
    I just reread my comment and realize something is confusing regarding the order of how we did this.

    We created a master document of her strengths, activities, and what she contributes. We honed this down into a main "mission statement" plus 4-5 main pieces of "support," and then her master list of activities. We knew that EVERY school should have those 4-5 elements in the application, somehow, someway. (and we later used it as a "checklist" before submitting any apps). And while no where did she write the short "mission statement" out, we confirmed that we felt like if any admissions officer read her application, and was mentioning her to another AO, they would come up with something related to her mission statement as the shorthand to describe DD. ("You know! the basketball player who was raised by wolves who went to the moon?"). That was our goal. That AO's would be able to describe her in a way that was consistent with our one sentence "mission statement."
    We then brainstormed a bunch of stories. And then we evaluated the stories by listing out which piece of support does each one show. That's how she selected which stories to use for the essays, combined with which questions were being asked. So you can see that the questions came in later in the game. In fact, we didn't need the questions until November until she actually drafted answers. (But to be clear, she had already written a lot of chunks and bits. She pulled from those chunks and shaped from there.)

    Anyway -- hard to explain perhaps. But I hope its more helpful than confusing.
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  • buuzn03buuzn03 1860 replies16 threads Senior Member
    Thanks @Calliemomofgirls ! Given DD is done with school as of today and she freaked out last night realizing application season was just around the corner—this is super duper helpful!
    This will keep her busy (especially since she’s already let it known that she’s read the summer reading book 6 times on her own 😂).
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  • novaboymomnovaboymom 6 replies5 threads New Member
    @Calliemomofgirls Thank you for your detailed posts! This information is extremely helpful and gives us a great starting point. I love the method that you used with your daughter. We definitely can work on this during the summer. I appreciate all of your suggestions.

    @parentofnicekid Thank you for offering to share this year's essay topics! My son is still finalizing his list. Currently, he is considering applying to Mercersburg, St. Andrew's, Exeter, Andover, St. Paul's, and Hotchkiss. There is a high likelihood that he will add or subtract a few schools after visiting these.

    Thanks again!
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  • parentofnicekidparentofnicekid 49 replies3 threads Junior Member
    @novaboymom Here is what I have for SAS and SPS. My other kid goes to M, but those questions are three years old at this point and probably not helpful, although they are generally all variations on the same theme.

    SAS (no character limits):
    Short Essays
    1) What do you like best about yourself?
    2) We are excited you are considering SAS. Why do you believe the school is a good fit for you?
    3) Of all your activities - in school, out of school, in your community, or with your family - what excites you the most?
    Long Essay
    1) At SAS you will have an advisor who will support you in all areas of board school life - academic and non-academic. In the space below, write a letter to your advisor telling about yourself. Talk about your goals, passions and developing interests. What does your advisor need to know about your character, your strengths and weaknesses and your life experiences?
    Parent:
    1) Please tell us about your child and his/her readiness for SAS: Consider strengths and weaknesses and your expectations for your child's high school experience.

    SPS:
    Short Essays (2000 characters each)
    1) Throughout our lives, daily, friends and mentors help to shape who we are. Tell us about a person in your life who has had a lasting influence on you.
    2) A lot happens at SPS. In what ways will you add to the school's classes, programs, and community.
    Parent
    1) At SPS, advisers work closely with families to support students. As your child enters SPS, what do you want the adviser to know and in what areas will adults need to offer support?

    Good luck!
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  • CalliemomofgirlsCalliemomofgirls 412 replies16 threads Member
    @novaboymom oh you have picked schools we loved for all different reasons! I love the bunch you have there.

    So taking the questions above -- we found a solid pattern of essays that were asked over and over in different forms. DD had 35 essays/short essays to write (12 schools) but she wrote different versions of probably the same 8-10 essays (the first 5-6 of which were for SAO). But there were definite themes in questions that were repeated. There was a general personal statement type theme (like "tell us your story" or "who are you" or "what will you contribute") and that tended to be one where she got in at least 2 evidence pieces -- a heavy lifter in terms of essays that might get broken up and used frequently. Kind of her "main" essay that needed to fit in somewhere in almost every application. There was a theme of "what book/creative content/art piece" has affected you. Well, for that -- she didn't start at "what is your tippy top favorite book ever?" But rather -- what are the themes in the 4-5 "evidence" list that still need to be addressed and what books have you loved that tell that story. In other words, it is LESS important that the book be your absolute #1 favorite book and MORE important that the answer tells the Admission team something about you. Also: less important to be "good writing" than to be telling them about you. (NOTE HERE: While I am a big believer in guiding our kiddos to being strategic about brainstorming essay topics, I am even a bigger believer in letting the kiddos write the actual essay totally on their own. There were some structural and word choices --- if I can call them that? -- that my DD made in her essay writing that I thought were really questionable, but hey at least no one had to wonder if an 8th grader actually wrote the essays!)

    There were definitely several "mentor" type questions. Again -- she didn't answer with "who is your best mentor" or "the person you truly want most at dinner." We recognized that one of her 4-5 pieces of evidence was about XYZ, so we picked a mentor that would fit into that narrative. Again -- every answer should support one of the top 5 pieces of evidence that support who DK is in shorthand.

    ALSO: this document is what she used to shape her recommendation packets she gave each teacher. To be clear, she didn't hand over her working document. But she used the working document to drive her cover letter to her recommenders. She worked in her top five themes in the cover letter, and then gave a nice list of her top achievements, and also suggested what her challenges and areas of growth were. The overall tone of the letter was "Thank you so much! I know you know me in English class, but I wanted to tell you a little more about my strengths and weaknesses. My hope is to make it easier for you to talk about me." Our assumption was that there are plenty of things teachers won't know about my DD. BUT here is the real benefit to this: EVERYONE IS TELLING THEIR VERSION OF THE SAME STORY. Obviously, we don't want everyone repeating the same information. But the arrows should all be pointed at the same target. Again, it should be easy to talk about the applicant in a sentence or two. Layers of evidence coming in and supporting the beautiful narrative of your child's specialness.

    And the real win here: kids fall in love with themselves and really peel back the layers and start to believe in their own uniqueness. Quirks become examples of really neat life skills and strengths. Kids start to own their own stories, and start to dream about how it will uniquely position them to contribute to this world.

    Oh I don't know if I made this clear before, but she included what her big dreams were. I plan to become XYZ and this is how I have been working on this dream since I was 3, it turns out. I didn't realize it at the time, but in kindergarten when I did XYZ, it was the beginning of my love for ABC.

    For the Parents essays -- Frankly I did this late in the game. I decided to take a personal Homefront angle on the themes I knew were already working in the application. I selected 3 or 4 stories that were lighter, and more like "stories only a parent would know." I selected strengths that folded into DD application, but added new info. For example, if her application talked about her being super smart in science, I might talk about how much I love her sense of humor and how it's a running joke in our family that she will crack and joke that none of us understand because we are a family of artists, not STEM folks. (This is a made-up example). So I get to talk about how funny she is, while folding in a layer of her love of science. (again, made up). I personally don't think the parent essay is all that important, but I just wanted to keep the arrows pointed in the same direction, while also letting them know something smaller and quirkier about DD. And, for weaknesses, I gave real weaknesses. The strategy of giving a weakness that is actually a strength, or a weakness that is so innocuous that it's hardly a weakness feels disingenuous.

    Anyway -- again hope this helps!
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  • CalliemomofgirlsCalliemomofgirls 412 replies16 threads Member
    Last thought -- There is a HUGE advantage in applying to some schools through SAO and that is that you can VERY easily add schools later in the application cycle, including after M10, if needed. Plus, honestly the essays she used in SAO were very easy to tweak for GW schools. It was such a robust suite of essays that it represented 80% of the work.
    As M10 approached, as we awaited results, I proactively reached out to some schools in case DD had no options (her test scores were not as high as we had hoped). I wanted to reach out before M10, even if just a few days before. Several of them offered to read her application, which I could have sent over with a 2 minute payment of an application fee. DD ended up with 1 rejection, 3 WL and 8 acceptances, so we didn't go down this path. But lots of kids are left wondering at the last minute if they applied to enough schools, and having SAO app ready to go at the push of a button was a big stress reliever for us. And it was a great suite of essays to use as a touchstone for all the other apps.
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  • novaboymomnovaboymom 6 replies5 threads New Member
    @parentofnicekid Thank you for providing past essay questions for some of the schools my son is considering. These are very helpful!

    @Calliemomofgirls Thank you for taking the time to write these thoughtful responses! I had not even thought about parent essays or recommendation packets for the teachers. We definitely will be busy this next year! It sounds like the prep work that you did with your daughter had many benefits. I love what you said about the self-discovery that happens while going through this process. It makes me very excited (while also a little nervous) about this coming year!
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  • DroidsLookingForDroidsLookingFor 110 replies0 threads Junior Member
    Here are this years *parent* questions for PA, PEA, and Choate, so you can get a sense for those...

    ANDOVER
    Students must be on campus during the week and for designated Saturday commitments, but it is also expected that they will remain on campus during most weekends in order to take advantage of the weekend programs and to contribute to the school’s sense of community. Do you know of any reason why your child would be unable to take advantage of this type of program? (2000 characters

    Has your child either skipped or repeated a year of school? If so, which, when, and why? (2000 characters)

    Andover is a challenging environment, intellectually and physically. What in your child's academic and personal life leads you to consider them likely to respond well to the challenges Andover presents? What, if anything, gives you pause as to your child's academic and personal readiness for Andover? Please be specific. (2000 characters)

    What do you hope an Andover experience will mean to your child? What do you feel your child will contribute to the Phillips Academy community? (2000 characters)

    EXETER
    1.Please describe your child’s academic and personal strengths and weaknesses. (1500 characters)

    2. For boarding applicants: After reading our materials and learning about Exeter, how do you think your child will adapt to the challenges of living away from home in a dormitory? (1500 characters)

    3. Is there anything else you would like us to know about your child? (1500 characters)

    CHOATE
    1. Ownership of the decision to come to Choate can play a significant role in a student's success. Please describe how the decision was reached to apply to Choate. (1015 characters)

    2. Given your family values, what qualities would you most like to see your child develop at Choate? (1015 characters)

    3. What event would you consider the most significant in your child’s life? (1015 characters)

    4. What is your vision of a successful high school experience for your child? (1015 characters)

    5. Please share any other helpful background information about your child (academic, cultural, medical, personal, religious, or social) you feel is important for the admission committee to take into consideration. (1015 characters)
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  • DroidsLookingForDroidsLookingFor 110 replies0 threads Junior Member
    Here are the PA kid essays. Sorry can't seem to find Exeter or Choate.

    ANDOVER ESSAYS

    Please answer the following questions. Each answer should be 150 words or fewer (up to 1500 characters).

    FOR APPLICANTS TO GRADES 9, 10, AND 11 ONLY

    Please respond to two of the four questions below.

    You are busy with school, homework, and extracurricular activities. What is one favorite thing you do just for fun—and why?

    B. The words non sibi, meaning “not for self,” have served as a motto for Phillips Academy since 1782. Describe a time that you displayed the non sibi spirit—as part of an organized event, disaster response, or community effort, or through a personal gesture. What did you gain or learn from that experience?

    C. At Andover, students are supported by a team of adults (including, for example, a house counselor, advisor, and coach). Aside from your parent(s)/guardian(s), who is your go-to adult for advice and mentorship? How has this relationship developed over time, and why is it important to you?

    D. Students contribute to the Andover community in a variety of meaningful ways. What talents, skills, interests, and experiences do you imagine sharing with others at Phillips Academy?

    ESSAY

    Please answer one of the questions below in 500 words or fewer (up to 5000 characters).

    Tell us your story.

    B. Discuss a topic, situation, or issue you were once certain about, but now you are not so sure. What changed your opinion?

    C. At Andover, it's cool to be smart. What excites you intellectually—and why? Please share a specific example, such as your favorite subject, book, website, blog, film, or video.

    D. Academy Award-winning actor Jack Lemmon, Andover Class of 1943, once said, "Failure seldom stops you; what stops you is the fear of failure." Describe a time when you overcame the fear of failure. Did you succeed, fail, or something in between? What did you learn from the experience?
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  • DroidsLookingForDroidsLookingFor 110 replies0 threads Junior Member
    I would also echo @Calliemomofgirls point to make absolutely sure that whichever combination of questions your DS responds to that he includes every one of his key X points.
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  • CalliemomofgirlsCalliemomofgirls 412 replies16 threads Member
    @novaboymom -- it really IS exciting. Investing this much time into one kiddo -- thinking about their future, exploring their dreams, reviewing their lives so far, thinking about their accomplishments, spending a week in New England driving together in a rental car, going from one amazing school to another (12 schools in 6 days), and then staying in a new hotel every night, changing in the car sometimes, laughing as we got stuck in the rain and had to buy random ugly jackets at Marshalls and me showing up at interviews wearing my boots from Costco instead of the perfectly-curated outfits we had planned months before... and then after J15, every Tuesday saying "M10 is in 6 weeks! or 5 weeks! 4 weeks!"
    Just some examples of the joy that was the application season.
    It was really one of my favorite things I've ever done with any of my kids. Worth every second of stress (and disappointments like the SSATs -- ugh!) and every penny and time away from work. And it was worth it even on M9, before we ever heard from one school.

    Really -- a special time awaits.
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  • CalliemomofgirlsCalliemomofgirls 412 replies16 threads Member
    Be prepared to be both impressed by your kid and humbled by how awesome other kids are in comparison (which leads to a little bit of "holy cow, my DK will NEVER get in!"), and yet -- net/net -- to fall in love with the imperfections that make your kid your kid and feel like DK is truly enough, just as is, and if she doesn't get in, it will be OK. (caveat: easy to say this on the other side of the process I realize.)
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  • buuzn03buuzn03 1860 replies16 threads Senior Member
    @Calliemomofgirls I think you and I were probably in the same Marshall’s for the same reasons 3 years apart. 😂
    But I agree with you about memories made. I still can’t believe your 12 schools in 6 days (I would’ve never been able to keep anything straight, even with the voice notes) but DS and I made several memories doing 10 schools on two different 5 day trips.
    I’m really looking forward to the experience with DD.
    As far as seeing new qualities in your kiddo...just wait. After a few years at BS, you’ll be floored!!
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