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One family’s BS search and application process — start to finish

SevenDadSevenDad 4240 replies135 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
edited December 2013 in Prep School Parents
Summary

• In the application cycle of 2010-11, SevenDaughter (who was in 8th grade at the time) applied for a 9th grade slot at 3 selective East Coast boarding schools: Choate (CT), St. Andrew’s (DE), St. Paul’s (NH).

• Admissions Decisions: Admitted to St. Andrew’s and St. Paul’s; Rejected from Choate.

• Matriculation Decision: She will be attending St. Andrew’s as a Third Former beginning in September 2011.

Throughout this process, I’ve been keeping notes on our experience/observations. I thought it might be helpful to future CC parents/applicants to share them with the board. I am not sharing our story to brag about my kid or her results, so please don’t hate. Also, I am not offering our story as some magic formula…she wasn’t admitted to every school to which she applied. As they say, your mileage may vary.

Oh, and before I get too far, I should say that my biggest regret after going through the whole process is that we didn’t explore Thacher (California) more thoroughly. Roads less travelled…

About SevenDaughter
SSAT SCORE: 2350+
JHU-CTY High Honors (7th Grade SAT scores all above 650)
Honor Roll 6, 7, 8th grades
3-Year Team Athlete of average ability/skill
2 Unique Individual Sports
Plays brass instrument
Extremely creative
Proficient in foreign language (non-native)
Took 9th grade math (Honors Geometry) in 8th grade
Attended private day school 5th-8th grade

About Us
We are from a rural part of a Mid-Atlantic state. Above average HHI, but need substantial FA to make this happen. Parents both went to independent private school for high school and are college graduates, father went to non-HYP Ivy. Younger daughter also attends day school mentioned above. Local public schools do not align with our family values/expectations.

How we chose schools during our initial round of inquiries
Early in the process, I was lucky to meet, semi-randomly, someone who works at a boarding school. An excerpt of an email this person sent me follows below. The list was based on my description of my daughter’s strengths, weaknesses, and interests.

“Here are my picks for mid-Atlantic region boarding schools:

Lawrenceville - NJ
St. Andrew’s - DE
Peddie - NJ
Episcopal - VA
Madeira (all girls) - VA

Here are my picks for LARGE-SIZE academic-focused New England boarding schools:

Exeter - NH
Andover - MA
Choate - CT
Milton - MA

Here are my picks for MEDIUM-SIZE academic-focused New England boarding schools:

St. Paul’s - NH
Hotchkiss - CT
Loomis-Chaffee - CT
Middlesex - MA

Here are my picks for SMALL-SIZE academic-focused New England boarding schools:

Groton - MA
Miss Porter’s (all girls)- CT"

Though by no means comprehensive, this list was a great starting point. And the 3 schools my daughter ended up applying to all came from it.
edited December 2013
239 replies
Post edited by SevenDad on
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Replies to: One family’s BS search and application process — start to finish

  • SevenDadSevenDad 4240 replies135 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    We started considering BS as an option for our older daughter in Spring 2010. I really don’t know what started things off, but I know the germ of the idea came from me (though my wife had been a boarder at the private high school we both attended).

    And for some reason, my random visit to the Miss Porter’s website coincided with an announcement that they were having an open house event for 7th graders…

    My daughter and I attended that event, and after our return, my wife and I discussed the opportunities that boarding school might present for her. About a month later, I started calling schools asking for information. Here is the list of schools from which we received marketing materials (including timing of requests):

    Early (1) — Spring 2010
    Miss Porter’s

    First Wave (7) — June 2010
    Andover
    Choate
    Exeter
    Groton
    Madeira
    Milton
    St. Paul’s

    Second Wave (6) — August/Sept 2010
    Cate
    Mercersburg
    St. Andrew’s
    Thacher
    Westtown
    Hotchkiss

    That makes 14 total schools from which we requested information. My wife definitely thought that was overkill, and sometime in September said “no mas”.

    Most of the schools had perfectly acceptable, professionally presented materials. If I had to pick the best viewbook/info kit, the one that “wowed” me the most, it would have to the one sent out by Thacher.

    Some people might question the need for viewbooks in the digital age. I would counter with the September Issue of Vogue…sometimes it’s just nice to have hard copy of information and pretty pictures on paper.
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  • SevenDadSevenDad 4240 replies135 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Like most other families in the BS search/apply process, we were never going to visit every school. So you can really only go with the school sites, brochures, reputations, advice of parents, and internet buzz (including forums like CC) when it comes to narrowing things down.

    Here are some of the things we were looking for when we began:

    Strong Science
    Strong Foreign Language
    Warmth of People
    Feeling of Fit
    Proximity
    Availability of FA
    Recent Negative Press/Controversial Incidents (a factor that eliminated at least one school from final consideration)

    Based on these factors plus our own family sensibility, we narrowed our “to visit” list down to 8 (out of 14): Choate, Exeter, Groton, Hotchkiss, Miss Porter’s, St. Paul’s, St. Andrews, and Westtown. We made trips to all of these schools – some more than once, and some of the New England schools in the same multi-day trip.

    For the most part, we tried to group our initial list of schools into categories and then tried to pick one from each category. So, not Exeter AND Andover. Not Miss Porter’s AND Madeira. I would have been fine with an even shorter list, but we added some fairly late in the process based on input from CC and RL (real life) people.

    We visited a few of the schools over the Summer, but returned to each one that still interested us in the Fall or early Winter, so we could get a vibe for campus when school was in session.

    Though “what matters most in an app” is a much discussed and sure to never be resolved topic, I stand by my assertion that interviews matter A LOT. They must. After all, given two candidates with similar scores, grades, ECs, and recommendations, how can you choose? The one that seemed like a better fit for your school in an interview.

    Before the first round of interviews, we did a few “mock” interviews where one of us asked our daughter questions she might be asked (We took the questions from a College Board publication on visiting and interviewing at colleges.) We just wanted her to be comfortable talking about herself and aware of the times she gave “Yes/No” type responses. Some might call this “coaching”, but to us, it’s just common sense.

    Additional Notes on Visits/Interviews:
    I recommend visiting in the Summer if you can (especially if you can visit again in the Fall). I say this because I’ve sat in the Exeter waiting room on a prime Fall visit day and it felt like a cattle call. I know that if I were an AO under similar circumstances, it would have been hard to keep the various candidates straight. In the summer, there are simply fewer kids interviewing on any given day, so AOs aren’t as rushed and you have a better chance of making an impact.

    One caveat I’ll give to the “Interview in the Summer” piece of advice is that one AO (I forget where) told me that they don’t usually encourage Summer interviews because it helps lubricate conversation if the student is in or has just come out of an academic program. So if asked “What’s your favorite subject?”, the applicant doesn’t have to search their memory bank too much. Our daughter had just done a few weeks in a language immersion experience, so she was all rev’d up about education during her Summer interviews.

    SevenDaughter only applied to schools where we felt the interview experience went well (for her and for us). Of the other schools that didn’t make the cut, only Groton’s tour/interview experience was in the same ballpark as Choate, St. Andrew’s, and St. Paul’s.

    At both St. Andrew’s and St. Paul’s we felt like we were in a special place…and not just because of the people we met. There is something about both of those campuses that really speaks to us. The fact that they are 100% boarding and have secluded campuses that feel bucolic may have something to do with it. That’s what our hometown area feels like, so perhaps these schools felt more like home.

    Groton approached the feeling of both St. Andrew’s and St. Paul’s, but fell just a tad short, Olmstead-designed campus not withstanding. Part of this was a bit of wear on various parts of the facilities that was not apparent at either SAS or SPS. Groton did have, hands down, the best food we ate all Fall.

    "So why didn’t she apply to Groton?"
    Groton was very high on our list after our Summer & Fall visits. But the Hunter Perkins incident really bothered me. My wife more so. I know that schools are more vigilant about problems after they boil over, but in this case that wasn’t reassuring enough. Additionally, any questions I directed toward the AOs after the bad publicity (including several not related to the incident) were ignored and not even deflected in return.
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  • SevenDadSevenDad 4240 replies135 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    We had initially thought our daughter would be applying to only 3 schools, with her day school as a solid and very acceptable back up. So schools had to make a substantial and positive impression to make the final cut.

    There are different POVs on how many schools one should apply to. It really will be different for different kids/families. Despite many success stories to the contrary, I’d say one is too few. And I think anything over 7 or 8 is too many — especially if you are NOT using a common form for the schools. There is the “cast a wide” net strategy, but I do think the net can be too wide. We focused on schools that truly spoke to us as a family, from parents to candidate to her younger sibling. Post March 10th, several people from the forum remarked that our search process seemed “thoughtful” to them. I think this focus on fit paid off in the decisions she received.

    The notion of “fit” is an interesting one. There were definitely common elements for schools that made our final cut. Here are just a few: large and more private-feeling campuses (vs. “in town” campuses), strong arts/music facilities, and really warm admissions staff. The biggest turn-off for us was admissions staff that seemed like they were mailing it in or who seemed disinterested in our daughter/family. It knocked our pre-visit favorite, Philips Exeter, off the list before we drove off campus.

    Choate lacks the private-feeling campus part, but offered a few things the other schools did not — plus the kids we met (guides and sports team members) were the nicest and most generous with their time of any we encountered until revisits. It was added to our apply-to list sort of late in the process.

    SevenDaughter used school specific applications for all three schools. Of the three, only St. Andrew’s accepts common apps (for the essay portion). She wrote a long format poem for the main St. Paul’s essay, a risk supported by my wife that I was uncomfortable with initially. I gave in after reading it.

    Our goal was to get drafts of the apps done before the end of November, but you know how that goes. We were up late a few nights in the final weeks. Our recommendation requests were turned in before Thanksgiving Break.

    After writing outlines by hand, SevenDaughter composed her essays on a computer. I have noted elsewhere that the counts offered up by MS Word did not match the counter in both the GoChoate app site as well as the Gateway site…it was always off by more than a few characters (and yes, I knew to check the “include spaces” number).

    Tests & Test Prep
    SevenDaughter did very well on the SSAT, taking it twice and having scores above 2350 both times.

    Why did she take it twice if she did so well the first time? Because when I scheduled her for the October test, I didn’t know that her school would administer it to her entire grade in October (I think for merit scholarship selection). I signed her up for the October test largely to get it out of the way early in the application process as well as to give us enough of a “safety net” in terms of time should her scores not be where we wanted them to be. Note that we were told by a few AOs that anything in the high 80s and above “would not adversely affect her candidacy”.

    I was not that surprised with her scores, because she had scored very well (all scores above 650) on the SAT in 7th grade when she took them to qualify for the JHU-CTY program. I would recommend taking the SATs in 7th grade to any kid considering boarding school, especially if you are considering one of the more selective schools. Since it is an “above level” test (meaning it is intended for high schoolers, not middle schoolers), it will be a challenge for most 7th graders. After which the “at level” SSAT should seem easier. Additionally, I know that my daughter went into the SSATs with a VERY high degree of confidence based on her experience with the SATs. It’s one thing to be a 7th grader walking into a room full of high schoolers, and another thing to walk into a room with people your own age.

    In terms of prep, I did buy her the Princeton Review and McGraw-Hill SSAT books so she could take a few practice tests to familiarize herself with the format and length of the SSAT. She took all her practice tests (2 total, I think), with “test day” timing. Her practice test scores were actually lower than her real test scores, but still above 90th percentile. She never did any flashcards or drills or had any tutoring related to any testing. FWIW, My daughter highly recommends the SAT “strategy” book “Up Your Score”, which she had read before she took the SATs.

    I’ve read some variation on the statement “SSAT scores don’t matter” multiple times over the course of my time on CC. And I disagree. Here’s why: The SSAT is the only objective apples to apples comparison that AOs have. It (or the ISEE) is the only thing every app has in common. So why are people so quick to discard it as a tool for gauging a candidate? I’m not saying that you have to get a 99th percentile score to get into very selective schools, but it can’t hurt.
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  • SevenDadSevenDad 4240 replies135 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    We weren’t planning to check St. Paul’s online notification page before our daughter went to school…so we could find out about all the decisions at the same time when she got home. But on the morning of March 10th, we asked her if she wanted to find out. She did, and we logged on over breakfast on to get the good news.

    Midway through the day, my wife reported that “a large envelope” had come from St. Andrew’s, so I took that as good news. When we were all back home in the evening, she opened the St. Andrew’s package and checked the GoChoate site.

    We were surprised at the Choate rejection, given her stats. But it was a distant third on my daughter’s list, so we didn’t fret too much.

    FA from both schools where she was admitted was similar, and close to EFC. (It’s still going to be a stretch for us financially this year.)

    We scheduled revisits immediately and went into them determined to be neutral, to give each school an equal opportunity to “sell” itself to us.

    I’ve posted our revisit experiences in the “Official 2011 revisit” thread:
    http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/prep-school-admissions/1112976-2011-revisits.html

    In the end, St. Andrew’s won over our family unanimously. We are excited for our daughter to start there as a Third Former in September 2011.
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  • SevenDadSevenDad 4240 replies135 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    November 1 Note:
    Got D’s Oct SSAT scores back this week. She got 99th percentiles across the board, including 2 scores of 800. Missed getting a 2400 by a single wrong answer. Grades at Parent/Teacher Conf mostly As.

    Based on some discipline incidents that made the news for Choate and Groton, we have narrowed the apply to list to just two schools right now: St. Paul’s and St. Andrew’s. They are remarkably similar (over 2,000 acres of land each, secluded campus, 100% boarding, extremely high endowment to student ratio). St. Andrew’s is so much closer that if I had never been to St. Paul’s, it would be a slam dunk. But I consider St. Paul’s to be the finest BS in the land. With Thacher (in CA) and St. Andrew’s duking it out for a close second.

    I don’t know what we’d do if she’s accepted to both. It would probably come down to FA. SPS has an endowed scholarship for kids from our area — if she got that, we might not be able to turn it down.


    November 17 Note:
    On “Magic Bullets”

    With the SSAT and application season in full swing, I've noticed a trend of posts on College Confidential by students looking for tips and strategies on various aspects of the BS search/application process.

    This shouldn't be news to anyone, but there is no "magic bullet".

    There is no single book that if read will deliver 2400s. There is no formula for a HADES-proof essay. No cheat sheet that is going to guarantee an amazing interview. So why do so many look for one?


    December 14 Note:
    We added Choate back into the mix after a second visit in early December. The kids we encountered there are among the most “real” that we’ve met…with working parents for whom sending a kid to a $40k+ school is a hardship — families very much like our own. Choate also happens to offer two fairly esoteric sports that my daughter already does and enjoys: Fencing and Archery.


    December 29 Note:
    Maybe it’s because CC is an anonymous forum and it’s the thick of application season, but there have been a string of either totally naïve or totally ridiculous posts recently. Asking for guidance on interviews/visits at this point in the game? Asking questions about how to handle specific essay questions from specific schools? Complaining about teachers in whose class you fell asleep? I cannot believe the ignorance/arrogance of some of the student posters.

    Another thing that I find interesting is the trend in “Chance Me” threads. It’s generally the same hyper-selective schools that people ask about. And really, isn’t the answer the same: “It depends.” Will be interesting to see how this year’s crop of applicants nets out.


    March 18 Note:
    One thing that’s been bothering me on the forum right now is the POV espoused by some parents that “If your child didn’t drive the process, he/she ain’t ready for Boarding School”. I take some issue with this because these parents seem to feel that if your child didn’t call the schools to schedule interviews and the like, then they aren’t ready for boarding school.

    My daughter doesn’t schedule her doctor’s appointments or music lessons either, and I put the scheduling of school visits in a similar administrative category. I didn’t write her thank you notes or her essays, but I did remind her to stay on top of both.

    END OF ORIGINAL MULTI-PART POST
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  • baystateresidentbaystateresident 590 replies11 threadsRegistered User Member
    SevenDad- Wow! What a comprehensive look back at your boarding school application journey, and how wonderful you are to share all of the details for the benefit of future applicants. I now have two boarding school graduates, but am still helping a few friends and relatives with the process.

    The only caveat I would give future applicants is to not believe everything you hear in the news about bad things that happen at boarding schools. Truthfully, many scandalous things that happen never make it into the press, probably to the vast relief of the schools. I don't know much about the incident at Groton; but I do know that some recent incidents have presented inaccurately or sensationalized by the newspapers (or people on cc!) There have been other tragedies that never got any publicity, which is merciful for the families involved. Just my two cents!
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  • ParlabaneParlabane 575 replies21 threadsRegistered User Member
    Outstanding review, SevenDad! Really helpful for prospective parents.
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  • ExieMITAlumExieMITAlum 2341 replies26 threads. Senior Member
    A caveat, since I've been following your posts for a while and they're very sound and well thought out. It should be noted that I'm the one who posted a version of your comment above
    “If your child didn’t drive the process, he/she ain’t ready for Boarding School”. I take some issue with this because these parents seem to feel that if your child didn’t call the schools to schedule interviews and the like, then they aren’t ready for boarding school.

    And here's why... what doesn't get said to most parents in or out of the interview process is that boarding schools worry about the students who apply solely because their parents are pushing the idea. Adjustment is hard and it's easy to tell in an interview which kids are mature enough to survive on their own and which kids are going to need "extra" watching (not based on economics).

    On this board we've seen parents take over the process and look for prestige and "stats" and perceived future door openings at HYP's than looking for the fit of the child.

    I had student interviews in which the only information I could get from the child (including what books do you read not assigned in class) were answered by the parent. I've had to ask parents to leave so I could determine if Exeter or MIT were their idea or someone else's. (both in the midwest and back when I lived on the East coast). I recently met a student at B&N during which point his mother hovered and tried to answer questions and coach until I lovingly told her to park herself on another floor. My DH has also had to kick parents out of an interview (often physician parents) - a situation confirmed by another Adcom on this board.

    Having said that - my comment stands. With the exception of Jr. Boarding schools (kids are younger) - if the parents are doing all the work, the student isn't ready to launch.

    I do know that students - especially 8th and 9th graders - are not adults and not fully mature to make many decisions. Some are more mature than others. Some are world travelers, others have never left home.

    But I also see a growing trend of parents doing the essays, helping with homework (something I had to stop even when I was a corporate manager) and otherwise taking over the process.

    There is partnership (a good thing) - and there are helicopter parents who think their children will suddenly blossom on campus after years of being driven around to every function and lead to every opportunity. That's my distinction.

    So yes - the students who stand out in the process are the ones who are ready to fly solo with minimal assistance. They get extra attention during meetings to weed the list.

    I don't know why the comment makes people bristle so much given that we've acknowledged that even college Adcoms deride "helicopter" parents and my own alma mater suggested that when I joked about buying a condo nearby, many parents actually attempt to do it.

    I was warned by a CC parent about one school we considered where parents bragged about coming on campus every week to do their children's laundry.

    So - there has to be middle ground. This is a big family decision. Huge for both parent and child and there's a natural tendency to want to control the situation.

    But having said that - the journey is easier for those children whose parents raised them to be able to take some of the burden on their shoulders.

    Even so - I've been so impressed with the level-headed manner in which your family handled the process.

    But for many others - a "rejection" letter may sometimes be triggered by parent interference and perceived lack of student independence/maturity more than student qualification.

    That's the other side of the coin, seldom discussed because it's the "third rail" in admissions. Hence the caveat - if the student is applying to BS - parents should be a partner, but loosen the apron strings. Teaching a student how to advocate for self on campus starts with doing it during the admissions process.
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  • baystateresidentbaystateresident 590 replies11 threadsRegistered User Member
    Well, I totally made all of the appointments, travel arrangements and phone calls. Please- I was the one taking time off from work and driving! I also handled mailings and due dates. But, I never edited a single word. That's where I would draw the line.
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  • muf123muf123 765 replies25 threadsRegistered User Member
    @sevensdad, Great post. I'm sure it will help future applicants. Your point as to why you signed up for 2 SSAT dates was also our game plan. However slightly different, son did 1 SSAT and 1 ISEE. Did very well on ISEE and not so well on SSAT. If we had time we would have had him retake it. My point is that it's a good idea to plan for 2 test dates to be on the safe side.
    Son had English teacher proof read essays and we read through applications before final send off.
    Your post was a short walk down memory lane and I'm sure glad we now stand on the other side looking back with a sigh of relief. Good luck to this years applicants.
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  • dharmamomdharmamom 96 replies0 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    I don't believe having an English teacher proofread a child's application essays is ethical. At least one school (maybe Emma Willard?) requires an applicant to certify that the application is all their own work.
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  • DAndrewDAndrew 1168 replies48 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    7D, nice work! I am sure it'll be helpful to future applicants/families.
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  • redbluegoldgreenredbluegoldgreen 1197 replies59 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    @SevenDad; Great Advice SevenDad. I enjoyed reading about your family's adventure. As you know, I've been looking forward to your thoughtful and wise post since March 10. I'm glad you took the time to reflect and offer up your experiences. Nicely done and very helpful! I hope I can still PM you for advice as we have already started a journey for child #2. She has had one interview at a school we had not looked at for child #1 and she has another interview coming up in a week. She is casting a broader net and we in my family are all a little older and wiser this time.

    I have taken Exie's wisdom to heart, and I do believe the student has to drive the process for the most part and I am sitting on my hands and trying to avoiding buzzing...I am determined to avoid all helicopters this time around. One down, so far so good I am happy to report...

    Surprisingly, although I've argued otherwise here, I am fast becoming a cheerleader for "fit." The one school we just saw, DD felt like it was a good match. I had argued that many schools could work, but I have to agree, this one school we just saw that we hadn't the first time around, seems to have a lot of the things she can benefit from and contribute to.

    Good Luck SevenDaughter at SAS! What an adventure ahead!
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  • ThacherParentThacherParent 826 replies49 threadsRegistered User Member
    I loved reading through the whole application adventure! I'm sure that the next four years at St. Andrews will be an outstanding experience for your very gifted daughter and your whole family. I have really enjoyed your postings as you stepped through the selection/admissions process. Your approach to matching the right school to your daughter was well balanced and thoughtful. I hope that other prospective parents will be inspired to keep an equally strong internal compass in their search efforts.

    Thank you so much for taking the time to share your thoughts. Great job!
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  • ExieMITAlumExieMITAlum 2341 replies26 threads. Senior Member
    Well, I totally made all of the appointments, travel arrangements and phone calls. Please- I was the one taking time off from work and driving! I also handled mailings and due dates.

    :) @baystate? Who will do it for your child once school starts? Plan travel, get back and forth from airport, learn to manage deadlines and otherwise negotiate the mini-college experience? I'm not being facetious - just saying for new parents, the time to start the training is during the application process, not after. Schools are used to some parents doing all the planning work. But it shows up in the interview which is why students are interviewed separately from parents. To see if the kid can stand on his/her own.

    When I get a call from a parent I'm happy to talk. But I tell them (and so do some other interviewers) that if the student isn't capable of setting up the appointment and make the call without parent assistance, they aren't ready for Exeter. And that DOES go in the report.

    Over the course of the year I got the impression that SevenDad's D was pretty involved in the process along the way.
    I do believe the student has to drive the process for the most part and I am sitting on my hands and trying to avoiding buzzing...I am determined to avoid all helicopters this time around. One down, so far so good I am happy to report...

    So proud of you @RBG2 - hardest thing I've ever had to do was sit on my hands when I wanted to get involved post acceptance. Lately, when I'm tempted, my D reminds me that my job is to listen and let her vent. Then she handles "her business". Sometimes she loses, but more often than not, she's able to negotiate a victory on campus. :)
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  • DAndrewDAndrew 1168 replies48 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    When I get a call from a parent I'm happy to talk. But I tell them (and so do some other interviewers) that if the student isn't capable of setting up the appointment and make the call without parent assistance, they aren't ready for Exeter. And that DOES go in the report.
    Exie, no offense, but I think it's irresponsible. Success comes in different ways. I see kids of all kinds - parents more involved or less involved - succeed or fail over the years. It is dangerous to set up a certain framework to predict a kid's succeess or failure especially on one factor.
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  • baystateresidentbaystateresident 590 replies11 threadsRegistered User Member
    Oh, once they got there they did it all for themselves. But no 8th grader was going to be scheduling my days off! Somehow, it all worked out and they are both self sufficient young adults. One thing I have never done though, is edit their work. Not once, not ever. Their voices are so much better and so much more authentic than anything I could have changed.
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  • ExieMITAlumExieMITAlum 2341 replies26 threads. Senior Member
    @DAndrew

    It's not the only factor - although it does seem to inform a lot of other aspects of the student's application and approach to life. Although I do know of some cases where students were accepted because the school(s) thought they were doing the student a favor getting them out of their homes (and I'm not talking about the economically disadvantaged kids.).

    I realize different parents have different parenting styles. My job is to give an honest reflection of the person who showed up for the interview. Not a candy-coated assessment to help the family fulfill a dream. That's not the business a BS is in. Elite BS aren't looking for kids that need hand holding or more time in the oven. They are looking for kids ready to launch right now - or close to it.

    So yes - there are interviewers on campus and across the country writing reports with "red flags" for kids with otherwise good stats. We are able to discern the difference between "over eager" which is common, and "over managed". Since independence and ability to manage the process is an indicator of success, what would you like us to judge? Good intentions? The muffins the parent brought over? I was comparing notes with other interviews and I'm not the toughest person in the pool.

    There are thousands of kids vying for very few spots. Is that the image you want a school to have? That you want the school to raise your child, you want an "IVY league" quality education for them, but you can't teach them how to use a spreadsheet, a phone and manage a flight schedule on their own? If that's the case, they're not going to be compelling choices for HADES.
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  • ParlabaneParlabane 575 replies21 threadsRegistered User Member
    I almost always agree with you, Exie. But on this point, we diverge a bit. The application is still a team effort. I expect my kid to explore schools that interest her, but I also expect to be involved in the process. I expect my kid to write her own essays, but I also expect to proof them and possibly engage in some sort of dialogue about her answers if needed or requested. I expect my kid to ask for some days off from her current school to go on visits, but I also expect to make the flight reservations and rent the car. I expect my kid to answer her own questions in her own way during the interviews, but I also expect to have some advance practice sessions so she gets a feel for the process. When you say that the top schools "are looking for kids ready to launch right now - or close to it," I can't help but think that you've chosen the wrong words. AO's are looking for the "right stuff" in sufficient measure that the demands of boarding school will be met happily and successfully, but they are also keenly aware that most applicants are works in progress.

    SevenDad's approach strikes me as well balanced and family oriented.
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  • 123mama123mama 117 replies5 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    SevenDad, thank you for posting your thoughts and experiences.

    I think "fit" encompasses more than is sometimes mentioned here, including how much/what types of things your child can handle on their own. IMO, it isn't as clear cut as "If they can't do X, they aren't ready for boarding school." Different schools offer different levels of support, and then there are variables of how far from home, which teachers they get, which individual advisor, etc.

    My oldest just graduated from boarding school (not one of the big names, but an excellent, well respected school), and we're about to started the process again with our next child.

    I scheduled all the interviews for high schools, and will do so again. Not because he couldn't, but because I had a better grasp of everyone's schedules, and had more flexibility in my schedule for when I could place the calls, spend time on hold, etc. That said, my child did the apps without me, as will this one. College interviews/tours were a different story, because it's college.

    Exie, I'm a little unclear when you describe parents answering for the child during interviews. When we did this four (almost 5!) years ago, the kids were brought into the interview rooms without their parents, there was no question of us going in with them. Only after that portion was concluded were we invited in, sometimes with, sometimes without him, depending on the school.

    I think everyone is different to some degree when looking at what signifies independence and readiness. I expect my kids to do their own laundry--for me, it's part of being on your own. Others here disagree. I can't say I'm right and they're wrong, I know plenty of adults who send their laundry out.

    I don't believe in tutoring and massive test prep for the SSATs or SATs, because I want my children to end up in schools that make sense for them.

    BTW, 7D, we looked at St Andrews for my oldest and I loved it. He was waitlisted there, and we were fortunate enough to have other excellent choices. Wishing you and your family the best over the next four years. :)
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