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Adding schools to the list: insight? also a piece of advice!

CalliemomofgirlsCalliemomofgirls 236 replies11 threads Junior Member
We are thinking of adding a few schools to the application mix for a few reasons, including:
1. Following the excellent general advice here to cast a wide net.
2. Applying for FA but may well not qualify depending on the school, so would like to include some merit-giving school options.
3. There were many great schools that we simply couldn't visit in person because there are only so many schools you can see in one week with a rental car, and so the driving pattern logistics had to dictate which schools we visited to a large extent.


Our challenges:
Not visiting a school during application period means trickier interviewing. Even if DC gets admitted through a Skype interview, I'm thinking it might be unlikely to gather enough support for merit consideration without an in-person visit and interview (esp since DD interviews very well so in-person interviewing would have perhaps helped the merit equation).
DD understandably is less enthusiastic about schools she hasn't visited. I get it! We learned SO much by visiting campuses, and easily removed several schools because of the visits. So it's hard to rally the same enthusiasm and clarity of purpose and intent in an application for a school we haven't seen, since we know how much a visit matters.


Our current thought: DC could add several of these unseen schools to the applications -- especially if SAO apps -- with relatively little additional work, and then leave the visits to revisit days if admitted. But -- I do wonder if the merit possibilities diminish with no visit, and a basic (non-personalized by school) SAO application. And, how could DD possibly be as enthusiastic and specific in a Skype interview for a school that she hasn't visited than a candidate would be for a school moments after finishing a campus tour? It just doesn't seem to be a great scenario, comparatively speaking.

Any insight or wisdom?

My concern scenario is an M10 with a couple of admits (which is certainly not a given!) but with zero $ and then some very tough decisions to make as a family. At least if there is an option or two with some $ behind them, we could visit at that point and decide if the culture fits, or if we need to go to drastic measures to find the $ outside of the family budget somehow. Does this make sense?

If it matters, the schools in question include Mercersburg, Episcopal, Kent, Pomfret, Berkshire, St. Mark's, NMH, Masters. (not all have merit I realize).

Has anyone added a school to the mix "late" (like November) and ended up with favorable FA/merit results?

I will add my own piece of advice to future applicants:
Cast the net wide early on, in the visits! I wish DK and I were familiar with and in love with a wider variety of schools (in terms of admissions and merit/FA possibilities) right now. I am sure that if we had visited Mercersburg or Pomfret or Kent or Episcopal, we would have found at least one or two of them absolutely awesome. But now, they are just websites to us, compared to the 7 or 8 awesome, vibrant, real-life campuses that we have swirling in our heads and hearts.

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Replies to: Adding schools to the list: insight? also a piece of advice!

  • Golfgr8Golfgr8 1232 replies21 threads Senior Member
    We could not interview at all the schools, so we did one “late” school via Skype. It turned out well on March 10th. We have friends who had 2 boys at Mercersburg and they loved it! Did you check out Berkshire, Sheffield, & LC?
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  • buuzn03buuzn03 1685 replies15 threads Senior Member
    I know several people who applied to St Marks late (mid January) and were admitted...a few with FA. If you or DD have specific questions about SMS, PM me and I’ll do my best to answer them!
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  • CalliemomofgirlsCalliemomofgirls 236 replies11 threads Junior Member
    No didn’t visit Berkshire — it was on that list of “didn’t visit but wanted to.” We drove by it and it looked lovely. Suffield — on our “consider” list. Maybe it should go into our “really consider” list.
    Are you comfortable sharing whether you mean “admit” or “admit with merit or FA” as your good M10 outcome?
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  • GoatMamaGoatMama 1323 replies12 threads Senior Member
    @Calliemomofgirls in our experience, interviewing over Skype didn't affect admission results. In fact, there was one school that was added to the list so late we couldn't even schedule an interview for (the admission result was still positive). If you live beyond a reasonable driving distance, there is no expectation that you should visit in person. I understand that interviewing over Skype may appear different to your child than talking to someone in person, but it's not that different. If your child is nervous about it, you may practice a few conversations over Skype so she can get familiar with the feel and format. She may even like it better than an in-person interview! For example, she will have more control over her environment, which may put her at ease and help her feel more comfortable. She will be able to jot down things she wants to say or questions to ask, which is harder to do face to face.

    As for merit aid, one of the schools that gave my daughter merit (rather than need-based aid) was a Skype-interview school that we threw in at the last minute (and I don't mean November, more like January!). You are doing the right thing.
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  • one1ofeachone1ofeach 760 replies17 threads Member
    Do you want to tell us a bit about what you want in a school and we can throw out impressions of some of those schools that we know?

    For example, my son has a friend at Episcopal (hmm, actually so does my daughter). So sophomore boy and junior girl perspective:
    It is very sports focused & there is a LOT of wealth on display - think girls with 5 stacked Hermes bracelets + Gucci belt + those sneakers that cost $500/600 (the ones with the glitter stars, I can't remember the name, oh! Golden Goose). That is a typical outfit for class. That is super different from the school my son goes to where the granddaughter of a billionaire does not stand out in the crowd in the slightest. That's a pretty big cultural difference if you ask me.

    I know there was a dad whose kids went to Episcopal who wrote a very long post about it.
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  • gardenstategalgardenstategal 6274 replies10 threads Senior Member
    I think you are more than fine to add schools at this point. You may want to plan to do revisits for anything that's of particular interest after acceptances. (I recommend revisits even if you have been before -- visiting "in the driver's seat " is very different than visiting as a potential applicant.)

    Most schools are interviewing a lot of students via Skype, so there is no downside.
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  • RedLionessRedLioness 128 replies1 threads Junior Member
    I visited all of my schools in/after late November (having not realized that people interviewed earlier) and received generous FA packages alongside an acceptance from multiple schools. there's no need to fret, just go for it and try to put as much heart into each application and go for it!
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  • HarrietMWelschHarrietMWelsch 2604 replies32 threads Senior Member
    Feel free to PM me if you have Masters-specific questions.
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  • ChoatieMomChoatieMom 5481 replies261 threads Senior Member
    I know there was a dad whose kids went to Episcopal who wrote a very long post about it.

    Calling @i70sband. Both his son and daughter are at West Point. :)

    Check out this thread for more info on Episcopal:

    https://talk.collegeconfidential.com/prep-school-admissions/1552482-episcopal-high-school-alexandria-va-p1.html
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  • CaliMexCaliMex 2009 replies34 threads Senior Member
    Most of our daughter's interviews were via Skype. She was admitted to seven boarding schools, only two of which she had ever visited in advance.

    Feel free to PM me about the schools on your list or about FA.
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  • CalliemomofgirlsCalliemomofgirls 236 replies11 threads Junior Member
    Thank you so much for all the comments. My phone isn't showing the full CC site so sadly I couldn't access to reply (oh the horror of my Monday, right??). So I'll get back when I have some more time on the computer. But wanted to say thank you!
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  • westcoastmom987westcoastmom987 43 replies4 threads Junior Member
    edited November 2019
    @Calliemomofgirls My daughter is a freshman at Episcopal. We visited last fall and she completed her interview in-person, so I don’t have the perspective of only having done a Skype interview. “Very sports-focused” hasn’t been her experience, other than that the school does require 9th graders to complete an afternoon athletic activity each season.
    The comment about brand names does ring true, though I don’t know the extent or how unusual Episcopal is in this regard; my West Coast girl can’t figure out why anyone would pay $500 for a pair of glittery sneakers, and doesn’t feel any particular pressure to conform (though I have heard about the trend). So far we have been very happy with the school and her experience there. Feel free to reach out directly for more info.
    edited November 2019
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  • CalliemomofgirlsCalliemomofgirls 236 replies11 threads Junior Member
    Thank you all so much for the comments.
    I'm hearing that it is not a big disadvantage to interview late and via Skype so that is really a relief!

    We are looking for a rigorous academic environment that offers a truly different kind of thinking; an education that she could not get at home at her solid LPS.

    DD is great at math, and is interested in business. She is in 8th grade and has had mostly A's (2 or 3 B's) in her 3 years of middle school, all honors classes, and currently taking 10th grade math. (She is bright, but NOT a math genius who will need special math seminars by the time she is senior. Read the thread about needing to find schools with enough math and immediately recognized that she is NOT in that peer group!) She is extroverted, social and is very involved in student government. She is sporty, having played several seasons of club soccer, LAX, basketball, but loves volleyball best. She is one of the stronger players in our small town middle school. (Not an impact athlete, but hoping for varsity in her second year kind of level.)

    While she is suited to the rigor, energy and pulse of BS, I also want her to enjoy her time there, and not let a cutthroat competitive culture steal the joy of her high school years away. Also, I think a strong drinking and hookup culture would be not ideal for her. (I realize some of this exists in probably all high schools.)

    Ideally a school would: have between 400-900 students, mostly boarders, have some form of sit-down meals (she loved that during visits), have strong school spirit, friendly welcoming kids, an active student government, opportunities to study or serve abroad, be rooted in kindness or giving back or mindful consumption (she hopes to become a social entrepreneur), some interesting electives (in her perfect world, a trimester system, which seems to result in more electives actually being able to happen), and a diverse population (if 50% of the kiddos are all from a few counties or from a specific city, that would be not great for this west-coaster). Her original dream: a school with media arts/video/TV/broadcast opportunities, as she is a fantastic journalist (writer, producer, host, and anchor), but this seems to be too limiting as most schools didn't have a corresponding program, so she will have to get creative about how to keep that part of her skillset alive.

    She has a fantastic list of schools that she pulled from those we visited: PA, DA, SPS, HK, Groton, Taft, LC, SAS, Choate, PEA, LV.
    She is applying to 7-8 of the list. And she loves those 7-8. But we are applying for FA and am thinking we may not qualify, which is what had me thinking we should cast wider and add some merit possibilities, or maybe some options that might be more generous with FA if they want her. Also, wondering if we have set the bar too high and how she might feel going 0 for 7 on M10.

    This was long! Thanks for reading (if you did). And thank you for sharing your wisdom!
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  • gardenstategalgardenstategal 6274 replies10 threads Senior Member
    Based on what you are looking for, George School (in PA) looks like it would be a fit. Math well beyond what your D would need (and a top math team), 3 levels of volleyball, service learning requirements, down to earth kids, academic rigor (and IB, if you like that - I do!), known for its "culture of kindness ", and a possible outlet for her media interests through an excellent film program. Community is a big deal. (

    It doesn't have sit down meals, is about 60/40 boarding day (but with 550 students, has a comparable boarding population with some on your list), and is known for generous FA. So hit or miss on that. Not an expensive sneaker school! (Students set up a thrift shop on campus to recycle their clothes and benefit charity.)😁

    As everyone here knows, I love George. It's not clear, based on the schools on your list, whether your D would like it or not, but I think the experience there gives kids a lot of room to figure out who they are and how to be the best version of that. Definitely worth a look if you are building out your list.
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  • Happytimes2001Happytimes2001 1810 replies13 threads Senior Member
    I'd also add, if your daughter has found that some schools aren't a fit, to take them off the list. We knew that one school was going to be a horrible "fit" and so took it off the list despite most of the application having been done. We did add another school which was a better match.
    My kid told me about some $$$ sneakers. But the kid stood out so much ( apparently others knew about the cost of these sneakers) that they are no longer worn as much. Kids school is very laid back and no fancy clothes. But there was a kid running with $1,500 sunglasses on. Apparently he got teased a lot.
    The girls and boys at my kids school mainly wear sweat pants and leggings. They dress up a lot for outings and that's about it. There are a lot of Canadian goose jackets however. Kids don't seem to be that fashion focused.
    Dress is an element of fit. A small one, but tells you about what kids value. It definitely varied from school to school.
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  • gardenstategalgardenstategal 6274 replies10 threads Senior Member
    Totally agree that any school that either parent or student isn't really liking should come off the list. There is always that possibility that it's the only one to which they are admitted, the only one that is affordable, or the one the kid loves and the parent hates (or vice versa.) Really, really not the place you want to be in June.... And just sayin', it happens.
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  • one1ofeachone1ofeach 760 replies17 threads Member
    Also, since we are talking about fit. I think there are some kids who will find fit in a lot of places. Then there are some who will not. It's important to figure out which your kid is (maybe the kid already knows). My daughter has a good friend who went to St.Marks, HATED it, transferred to St.Pauls, LOVES it. I would not have thought they were so different but to said friend they were night and day.

    I think I am lucky and my older is a fit in anywhere, my younger is a fit in only one place kid.
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  • vegas1vegas1 602 replies2 threads Member
    @Calliemomofgirls as I see PEA was on your list, I wanted to add a few points that might be of interest.
    1. They have had an unpublicized FA program for “middle class” kids in the past. We received a large FA aid package throughout our time there. Each year, our kids were asked to write thank you’s to the benefactor of the fund. Finally a few years ago, they were invited to a lunch to meet the benefactor and this is when we heard his story that he was a FA student while at PEA and wanted to specifically aid kids who were in the middle- not poor enough to qualify for aid at most schools but not rich enough to pay full tuition. My kids reported many kids attending the luncheon and they got a chance to express their gratitude in person.
    2. The great thing about PEA is that if they don’t have a program to develop your daughters interests, she can find peers and ask the school to fund a club/ trip to finance it. Our oldest son started ETV (Exeter TV) when he was there back in 2012 with friends/ not sure if it is still in existence, but they put together the proposal to buy the equipment and PEA funded it.
    The group wanted to shoot a documentary on child poverty in the Philippines one summer and through PEA support and a go fund me page, they used the equipment PEA bought to spend 2 weeks shooting and producing the film. The cool thing about these schools is not just the programs they offer, but the peers your daughter will find to help her find a way to develop her passions. Best if much to you and your daughter. If you have specific questions in PEA, feel free to PM me.
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  • buuzn03buuzn03 1685 replies15 threads Senior Member
    Absolutely true about fit. My kid is the one who absolutely LOVES St Marks and dropped St Paul’s from his list. But they are both excellent schools.

    SMS is a bit smaller than the 400 cut off you mentioned but is the same size as Groton, which is on your list. It is full of very kind kids (DS and myself were interviewed with many questions focused on interacting with others and later found this was to determine if candidates were raised to be kind and selfless as this is the type of student they look for). There is not a flaunting of wealth nor a separation of socioeconomics, race, background or sport. Kids intermingle better than any place I’ve seen.
    They have solid soccer and LAX teams but no volleyball...I don’t know if that’s a deal breaker. They have a solid movie making club, which my son joined III form and is now a leader of—the equipment they use is state of the art.

    They do sit down meals twice per week..one with community and one with their advisory. They have regular chapel (non denomination based) with senior talks and an occasional evening chapel service. I know myself and a few other CCers have kids there from across the country, and they are all very happy and do not feel like an outsider in the community.

    They also have Lion terms which would enable your DD to go abroad to make films, if this is what she wanted to do.

    They offered this middle class family generous aid, as well.

    If you have questions, please PM. In any regard, I recommend you check SMS out!!
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  • cinnamon1212cinnamon1212 749 replies8 threads Member
    All of these schools are great 😀. Hotchkiss has been a great fit for my son; there definitely isn't a drinking culture with their no chance policy. The kids are not competitive with each other; there's a lot of diversity and everyone mixes well. They have a film Festival of student-produced short videos, a radio station, no idea about TV.

    As I said, all the schools you are considering are fantastic. But if you have any Hotchkiss questions, I'll do my best to answer!
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