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"Fit" from far away: worth it to visit 7th grade spring?

spoonbenderspoonbender Registered User Posts: 3 New Member
Hi there, forum.

We are starting to explore NE boarding schools for our child, who is currently in 7th grade out on the West Coast. Our kid is a classic nerd who is unsure of the whole NE boarding school thing because it seems very preppy and DC is definitely not. That said, the idea of academic challenge and independence is very appealing. We've got an idea of which schools check certain boxes (challenging, strong math/science, certain sports or ECs), but we have no idea about "fit" from so far away. As @boardnotbored described perfectly in this thread (https://talk.collegeconfidential.com/prep-school-admissions/2007693-fit-as-mysterious-as-the-luminiferous-aether.html), I feel like we could cut up all the catalogs and mix them up and be unable to tell which school is which, for the most part.

DC seems to think big and extra challenging is the ticket - but my kid's a bit type B and I wonder if it wouldn't be better to look for something that is mid sized or is "warm" if one is so far from home. Or maybe lack of challenge is why DC seems type B sometimes - our kid tunes out when bored. We also realize that even if our child thinks Exeter or Andover is a perfect fit, that they are not necessarily going to reciprocate, so we need to build a list.

I'm thinking about going out over our spring break to visit some schools just to get a sense. I'm concerned that if I wait until 8th grade fall, if we visit a few and find we need to "redirect" our list to a different type of school, there won't be time to trek all the way out again for a second circuit of schools in time. We definitely want to see the schools while they are in session.

The problem is that some schools seem not to offer tours when our spring break is happening. Others do but appear to require an interview at the same time. DC is an introvert and is not yet ready for prime time in terms of interviewing.

Is it worth it to go so far to walk around campuses that aren't open for scheduled tours? It's not easy for us to get there, and we have limited time. Should we go ahead and chance a few interviews now at the ones that are, when we're so clueless, maybe at perceived lower-priority schools, or wait till we all have a more together idea of what we're looking for and what our DC's (still developing) passions are?

Thanks in advance for any thoughts, advice.

Replies to: "Fit" from far away: worth it to visit 7th grade spring?

  • dramakid2dramakid2 Registered User Posts: 126 Junior Member
    We started our search during Spring Break of my son's 7th grade year (which was just this past Spring, he's writing all his apps right now.) Even though it was the end of March and probably not the most convenient time for the admissions offices, we found every school to be very accommodating. We explained that we would not be able to attend their Spring open houses due to scheduling conflicts, and every school was more than happy to arrange a tour for us. Each one also made an admissions representative available to answer questions on an informal basis. Every school knew that my son was in 7th grade and that we were not there for a formal interview. Since we visited several schools over our March Spring break we were able to narrow our list for the Fall. We focused on revisiting the ones he liked, and added a couple others that were not on our original list. When we returned in the Fall we took tours again, this time with different students at the schools. It was a great opportunity to get a feel of the schools from more than one tour guide, and in our case, from more than one admissions representative. If you have the opportunity to travel in the Spring I think it can only help you in the Fall. Going to BS is a major commitment for the student and the family, so take advantage of whatever time you have to be sure you find the right fit.
  • dramakid2dramakid2 Registered User Posts: 126 Junior Member
    I'm sorry, I just realized that part of the issue you mentioned was that the schools were not in session during the time you have Spring Break. I agree that is a potential problem, as I think it is best to get a feel of a school when the students are there. (In our case my son's current school has a late Spring Break and the BS's were back in session by then). If you are able to get to the East coast later in the Spring (late April early May) when schools are in session, I think this would be of great value to you come Fall. If you can take a Thursday / Friday / Saturday and schedule some appointments for tours and get to 3 or 4 schools over a few days, I think you will be glad you did come Fall.
  • CTMom21CTMom21 Registered User Posts: 244 Junior Member
    I agree. It was relatively easy for us to visit schools during 7th grade, and if you can do it, I definitely recommend it. Although the typical approach is to do a tour and interview at the same time, we scheduled some tours-only during 7th grade. Schools are pretty accommodating. The only thing to take into consideration is that spring break is long, typically 3 weeks in March, so students would not be on campus, and that revisit days are typically the last week of March and first week of April, so that would not be good times for an initial visit.
  • Golfgr8Golfgr8 Registered User Posts: 513 Member
    Visiting schools even in 7th grade will give you a head start on the process. Your student can get an idea of the campus vibe, in addition to location of the school. Know the schedule for exams and reading days. You may want to a game or practice, also. Seeing the kids at one school all doing SOME fun activity at 3:15 really made a good impression on our family. Enjoy!
  • buuzn03buuzn03 Registered User Posts: 1,236 Senior Member
    We are from Texas... we started doing informal summer looks when DS was 11. Usually, he was in NE for hockey camps, and we'd try to visit as many as we could while we were there...I'll tell you, several of the schools he thought were his favorites without kids there ended up dropping significantly once we interviewed and saw the student dynamic. But, when you are that far away, you have to see schools when you can. And you can do your own, self-guided or as we liked to call them..."Discovery" tours. We'd download the campus maps and sneak into as many places as we could...back doors seemed to be unlocked a lot!!

    As far as preppy?? You'll have the spectrum at BS. DS is very competitive internally, but he doesn't show it...he wears his Mickey Mouse or Hakuna Mattata shirts as soon as he gets out of class, with his board shorts and slides. He has not found BS to have any more elitists than his old school back home. Actually, there are much less so...

    You can let DH know that almost all of these schools will be challenging academically...it is just how the school presents the challenge...just because it isn't toxic, doesn't make it a cake walk. You're definitely right that the fit for your child needs to be there. A suggestion I have--if you're going to look at PEA/PA or any of the other heavily publicized/glorified schools...look at a map and also check out any schools nearby (there are a ton of quality/academically strong schools in the Boston metroplex). We actually found DS's school by doing this...I don't think we would have heard of it otherwise, especially coming from rural Texas, where no one goes away to BS. And he couldn't be happier!

    Good luck!

    PS...we are about to start this summer "Discovery" process all over again for DD... but it looks like we may be going West coast, this summer!
  • Golfgr8Golfgr8 Registered User Posts: 513 Member
    My kid would go to school in California for the “In and Out’s” alone!!
  • buuzn03buuzn03 Registered User Posts: 1,236 Senior Member
    I think mine just want to torture us by choosing opposite sides of the country.
  • GMC2918GMC2918 Registered User Posts: 912 Member
    @buuzn03 Mine did that! Cate & St. George's. Although I have to say, each school is great for each kid and they're both really happy. I agree with your advice to the OP to make sure to look at some smaller schools. Andover/Exeter/Choate certainly have a lot to offer and are very compelling, but I can't tell you how many kids I know changed their minds about them after visiting. If you're going to be near Boston @spoonbender there are a ton of schools nearby: Groton, Middlesex, St. Mark's, Milton, St. Paul's etc. Try to see some of different sizes - that will help focus your efforts next fall.
  • buuzn03buuzn03 Registered User Posts: 1,236 Senior Member
    We can attest to St Mark's! DS is loving it!!! And @GMC2918 our kids are very differen, so I think the schools buuznkid2 is looking at fit her much better than the schools kid1 considered! I may pick your brain re Cate...she's very excited to go see it...she's trying to get me to plan a trip this summer, even though it may be a bit desolate after the fires....we are from the desert, so she'll be fine with that!
  • GMC2918GMC2918 Registered User Posts: 912 Member
    Of course @buuzn03 ! Please contact me with any questions you may have about Cate - my daughter has absolutely LOVED it, and I can't recommend it highly enough.
  • mamaedefamiliamamaedefamilia Registered User Posts: 2,917 Senior Member
    @spoonbender If your child tests well and is considered gifted, check out this scholarship. To be eligible, your child needs to meet certain benchmarks and be a current 7th grader. It is competitive, but covers four years' HS tuition paid as well as counseling about school choices. Deadline is in April.

    http://educationaladvancement.org/caroline-d-bradley-scholarship/
  • GarandmanGarandman Registered User Posts: 142 Junior Member
    edited January 25
    Cushing Academy recently had open house weekends for athletes, and artists.

    Many of the students in our group were 7th graders. Pretty smart.

  • SarripSarrip Registered User Posts: 92 Junior Member
    Cushing is an amazing school!! My daughter is so happy there.
  • HMom16HMom16 Registered User Posts: 515 Member
    We visited a number of schools during spring of 7th grade. In some cases we were unable to schedule the interview online as it required the interview. At those schools we called and made the tour appointment through the admissions office. There were several schools that dropped off of the list after these tours. In addition, we found the tour guides to be more knowledgeable in the spring than in the fall. Our fall tour guides seemed to be primarily new students.
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