Applying for Junior year?

My son is a freshman in high school. He attends a private international school in Seoul, Korea. It’s a pretty good school but my son wants to attend boarding school in the USA.

Since he’s a freshman today, he plans to apply next year when he is a sophomore and start attending his Junior year.

I understand that it’s a little late to start attending boarding school but we are where we are and unfortunately don’t have a time machine so we’re trying to make the best of it. I haven’t seen much about applying to boarding school later in High School. My son has friends who applied this year and will start as sophomores though.

If he doesn’t get into boarding school, he will just continue to attend his international school here in Korea so not getting into any school is ok (albeit will be a bruise to his ego).

Target schools: Since his fallback is to just attend international school here, he would like to aim for the top schools only…Choate, Exeter, Andover, Deerfield, etc. so probably something like 3-5 of the top schools.

His main reason for wanting to attend boarding school is that with college admissions relying less and less on standardized testing, they will likely rely more and more on grades and strength of High School (i.e., everyone has a 4.0+ but a 4.0+ from a top boarding school will be better than a 4.0+ from a no name public school, etc.). His college goals are schools like Harvard, Stanfurd, Penn, and Cal (the last 2 are because I went there).

GPA/Tests: He is a straight A/A+ student. Next year he will be taking 2 AP classes. He is studying for the SATs and will take the SAT in August 2021. His stretch goal is to score a 1550 but we’ll see what he actually gets. He is scoring ~1450 on practice tests today and will be studying all summer taking an intensive SAT prep class. He will also be taking the PSAT in the fall.

Extra-curriculars: He plays soccer and swims but he’s not at varsity level (as a Freshman).

Interview: My son isn’t the best at this but I’ll help get him prepared. I’m a college admissions interviewer for Penn so I’m somewhat familiar with the process at least at the college level.

Financial aid: He is planning to apply for financial aid but I’m not sure if we will qualify (not sure what the thresholds are). Any ideas? i.e, if I make too much to quality for aid anyway, maybe we should just not apply for aid? I think I’m in that gap where we’re not poor but we’re also not super rich either so affordability is an issue although not a deal breaker.

Anyway, since we’re pretty new to this, I read as much as I can in other threads but if anyone has any advice, thoughts, insight, etc. I’m eager to learn as much as I can to help prepare my son before he applies next year.


He sounds like a talented kid. There are lots of kids who repeat a year when they enter so that is an option. Very few schools give aid to international students. It is unclear what your status is. I know lots of people who are citizens who move in between countries and retain citizenship in both or a third country so I don’t want to speculate. Also, the candidates coming out of South Korean are amazing. And the Korean-American applicant pool is very very competitive. (We live in LA.)

Thoughts: if you need aid you need to broaden the number of schools to which you are applying. If you want all of the experiences of boarding school you need to broaden your list. If you are solely applying for academic boost there are many ways to do that depending on his interests.


OP wrote: “unfortunately we don’t have a time machine…”

As noted above by another poster, many students repeat a year when entering elite US prep boarding schools.

Thanks for the input! I guess repeating a year is an option but I’m not sure if my son will want to do that (probably not). He was born in January so he’s a little on the older side anyway. But if admission is easier to go in as a 10th grader instead of 11th grader, he’ll probably consider it.

We are US citizens btw.

My daughter was accepted as a repeat Jr. for this fall with aid. There were only 17 Juniors accepted at her school, by comparison there were 40+ sophomores accepted. Many schools have financial aid calculators on their websites that are helpful. I hear that if you don’t ask for aid at most places you have a much better chance.
Her general stats: excellent test scores and grades (this should be a given)
Superior arts involvement in an area where she will continue to contribute at her new school.
Minimal other club/volunteer EC’s

Without ECs, admission to these schools will be challenging. They will take high grades and test scores from an applicant from Korea (albeit a US citizen) as a given.

For entry in 11th, they almost always require varsity sports impact, accomplishments in the arts, speech & debate and/or math, noteworthy non-profit work, and/or a combination of these.


I agrée with all the other posts, but aid will be much easier to get if you are US citizens, so I’m glad to hear that you are citizens.

I agrée a repeat year is the better way to go. Many kids repeat and he will still probably be younger than some kids.

Many areas in the US have school cut off dates for age in August / September, so there’s a decent chance that he won’t be on the older side if he comes to BS here.

@RVD90277 , you may want to look at George. They do take students at 11th, often foreign students with an interest in an IB school.

They have very good track records with high achieving students for college but I will counsel, as will most of the folks here, that no BS is a fast track to HYPS. It may help your kid be the best possible version of himself and help them present well in the app, but you should understand up front that this may not be as sure a thing as you hope.

Good for you. Your kid has great stats/potential. Not sure I would advise redoing a year if already in a pretty decent international school. Nowadays no guarantee boarding school gets you into the Ivies. Great odds for a top 50 college though. So these days, I would say outside of great academics at many top/selective boarding schools, development of kids potential etc etc parents are seeking schools with great historical and student networks.

In your case apply to the top schools already under consideration. To broaden search consider the few boarding schools out there with rolling admissions that have a high percentage of international students. Many international applicants struggle with admission timelines/process of the most selective schools. Many of those international kids will be full pay(a consideration for your situation)/smart. Many given their advantages/smarts will be the future political/business leaders in their countries. These are the future networks our kids should be building. So likely won’t be the greatest historical network but a great student network.

Your circumstance is unique and I hope you equally find this a different/helpful perspective. My kid also in an international school and applying next year for 9th grade.

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I feel like if your family is able to afford an international school in Seoul, then most likely you’ll be able to afford a BS education. However, you may still qualify for FA since some schools do have really generous aid budgets.
I think some of the Science Academies( etc IMSA) accepts students from 11th grade. You might want to take a look at them if your child wants to major in STEM.
Good Luck! Also applying from Korea as well:)

Hi and welcome!
Lots of good advice here.

The thing that jumped out at me is that your primary reason for going to BS is to improve college matriculation, and I would suggest pretty strongly: don’t do it if the reason is to get into a better college. Lots of discussion here on the board on this subject, so grab a coffee, settle in and read your way down the many rabbit holes. But the short version is: college chances won’t be necessarily any better at BS.
I’ll also call out something mentioned above that juniors are often students with significant impact in a particular field, like sports (often male athletes) or arts (such as @AnonMomof2 very accomplished dancer.). This is particularly true at the “tippy top” schools, such as the ones you mentioned.

I’ll add that the amazing BS experience and strong college guidance is available at a LOT of schools. So if you do decide to proceed with applying to BS because the experience itself is desired, I would highly recommend widening the net. If you apply to 3-5 “tippy top” schools only, there is a very decent chance you could go 0 for 5. We see it all the time here on this board – really great kids with awesome scores who go 0 for 5 or 10 or 15. I think this is particularly something to think about since you mention your son isn’t naturally a great interviewer. If after you do your research, you decide BS is the experience your son wants, then definitely consider other amazing schools too.

Repeating sophomore will absolutely put you in a different category where you need to be a terrific student, sure, but you don’t have to quite that impact candidate. (Re: age – my daughter is a January birthday, did not repeat, and because of the September 1 cutoff back in her Kindergarten days in the US and the huge number of BS repeats, she is definitely one of the younger kids in her BS classes.)
But again, I would personally not consider adding a whole year of high school if the main (risky) hope is that BS would make someone more attractive to a specific college.


I agree with a lot of what is posted here–transferring to BS in many cases might actually LOWER your chances of admission at Ivies/Cal, depending on the situation, for a few reasons. So, do be careful. Even if you are able to gain admission for junior year (and that’s a TOUGH year academically to transfer - he would be adjusting in the highest pressure year of HS), you are putting your kid into a different pool, where others may have greater advantages, or where the academic competition is stiffer, making it harder to stand out. You may see on a matriculation list: wow, this school sends a lot of people to Harvard, but what you may not understand is that the ones who go are a mix of athletic recruits, billionaire heirs, generational legacies, and talented URMs, not to mention (depending on location), faculty kids. That doesn’t leave a lot of room for just academically strong kids, which of course the school also has in spades. Then - don’t lose sight of how much harder it may be to get that 4.0. Since you mention Deerfield specifically, for example, you might want to look at what @Golfgr8 has posted about the grading there - look at the grade distribution report and how challenging it is to be a top performer. Only 6% of the class had a 93 or above. This becomes a particular problem at one school you mention, Cal, where GPA is hugely important to your admissions chances, and as you say, even more important without standardized testing. My older kid is a sophomore in a super challenging school in California where there are no A+s and I have real concerns about applying to Cal because her GPA is going to suffer in comparison with applicants from other schools in the state. It’s a much more plug-in mathematical assessment at the UCs and my understanding is they don’t adjust for challenge level of school. I do think if you are an alum of Penn (undergrad?) and actively interviewing, that does already help your son’s chances there from any HS if he applies early, but I’d look at putting him in the place where he will shine like a diamond the most and distinguish himself, which for all we know - may be where he is right now - or might be at one of the other wonderful schools out there, where there may be fewer legacies in the class (simply because of size, there may be a lot at Andover), the competition might be slightly less stiff, or his transition in a tough year might be a bit easier. I agree that if you do target BS, consider repeating 10th simply because of the need to transition. Wishing you the best of luck in your search!


Thanks for all of the wonderful advice to take into consideration! Certainly a lot to think about.

I think that in this case, my son is ok with applying and going 0 for 3 or 4 or 5 as he is fairly content with attending international school. He wants more which is why he’s interested in BS but it’s not BS or bust or anything like that like it would be for college so he doesn’t really view a need for a “safety” BS.

I had a conversation with him about repeating 10th grade and he’s considering it but may prefer to just stay here at his current school at 11th than go to BS but repeat 10th.

I went to Cal undergrad and Penn grad (Wharton MBA). I interview High School students for Penn undergrad admission though. I actually also attended International school in Korea when I was younger. I had many friends at BS back in the day and it didn’t seem all that tough to get into back then but like most things, times change…


My DD only applied to 3. No one where we live really goes to boarding school (we have known 4 kids to go, two brilliant- genius level both to Mercersburg where one became valedictorian and one to Interlochen for dance)At the time she applied it was just this obscure dream and she thought she would just see what happened, if it didn’t work out would just stay at the local public school. But as the process went on, she wanted it more and more and would have been very sad to get all rejections. She went 1 for 3, (applied to Exeter, Andover, Deerfield), with significant aid as a repeat Junior. So it is possible. Just like winning the lottery is possible(which is what it feels like). :blush:. Good luck!

“I had many friends at BS back in the day and it didn’t seem all that tough to get into back then but like most things, times change…”

Things have changed a lot. When I applied to BS 30ish years ago, I applied to 8 schools, was accepted at 6, waitlisted at 1, and rejected from the only one I didn’t visit (which was a huge no-no back in the day). Kiddo1, who is a much more academic and interesting kid than I was, applied to 5 of the same schools, and was accepted to 2 (one of which is she is a legacy and the other was her “safety”), waitlisted at 2, and rejected at 1. And since waitlists rarely move these days, we consider them a nice rejection. You have to approach admissions very differently in this day and age. As @AnonMomof2 says, BS admission at the tippy top schools is akin to winning the lottery.

I am sharing (again) some of this information because many of you readers don’t look at posts that are older than the latest tik tok craze…So here goes the advice @ applying for Junior year.

  • Your decision may depend on which schools you are applying to.

  • Some students enter Junior year due to athletics. I would say “many” students at “several” prep schools do this.

  • We know students who transfer in as 11th grade repeats for a variety of reasons. We actually know 2 kids from Deerfield who have recently left and will repeat 11th at other schools because of a variety of reasons: Fall out from a COVID year, the DA grade deflation, stress, low GPA concerns @ potentially hurting college admissions, recruiting opportunities at other schools, and medical/mental health issues. If you want to know more about the “grind” and grades, DM me or see other posts.

  • Grades or GPA should be a consideration in your decision making. Why? Because for some students and parents, having a strong GPA is important. It depends on your view and situation. Students transferring into a rigorous prep school (especially certain ones) may find that their GPAs will take a hit. It could be due to the fact that some prep schools (like DA) do not weight courses or weight grades. Other reasons include tougher grading or different grading than one might have grown comfortable with at the public school or local private school.

  • Junior year can be a high-demand experience at some schools. You may find that it’s better to transfer in as a repeat Sophomore - if that is appropriate.

  • Time demands are different. Not saying more or saying less, just different at boarding school. We have received feedback from new Juniors that they were not prepared for the time demands of boarding school. For example, at many schools there are requirements for sports or EC’s each term. On top of that, your boarding school may also have other mandatory activities or CS that eat into time. Some schools have lights out and/or “in your room” policies where you must be in your room at 10:00 or 10:30 PM. Then the internet goes off at 11:00 PM or Midnight. There are ways kids work around the internet situation. For some kids coming into boarding school, they express surprise at how time is different compared to going to school at home.

  • Freedoms - “I can’t bring my car?” Ok - some schools allow Seniors to have a car for driving to sports. Check your school’s car policy. There are some Juniors who arrive and are just not used to having less freedom at school. Less mobility, too.

Hi little late to add to this thread but although not impossible to be accepted junior year I would definitely apply as a repeat sophomore! Of course everyone’s experiences and outcomes are different but every school I applied to for junior year I was outright rejected or waitlisted, and all my acceptances were for me repeating sophomore year. Also repeating sophomore year would allow you to essentially gain back the time and school year lost from covid imo because its an extra year or a redo!


Do not apply for BS if your main goal is to get into a top college! Many people believe that selective boarding schools are great feeders to get in Ivies, but most of the time, this is not true. Schools like Exeter, Andover, and Deerfield only send around 5 people to Harvard each year, I’m pretty sure Choate sends like 2 to Harvard, and a lot of good boarding schools but not top 5 like Taft, Kent, or Pomfret sometimes don’t even manage to send one to Harvard per year and only a few to the Ivies in total. Go a little lower past top 20 BS and you’ll realize that most of them don’t even manage to send any students to an Ivy on an average year. This sounds okay until you realize that most of T20 BS have class sizes from 150-200 and all of those hundreds of students went through a tough admissions process, likely got straight A’s with great teacher recs and extracurriculars, wrote great essays, and more before being accepted. On top of that, they all had the opportunity to continue to excel at their BS-- playing 2-3 sports, instruments, many clubs, etc. However, the very large majority of T20 BS students go to mediocre schools, ranging from state schools with 70%+ acceptance rates to good but not T20 schools like BU. The same goes for many US private schools, but it widely varies by the school.

On the contrary, some US public high schools are very good for college matriculation without being painfully competitive. For instance, the high school I go to is not well-known or anything as it is just a regular town high school, but it ranks around #200 on US News and around 5 people each year go to Harvard out of a class of 300, with a handful more to the other Ivies and T20 each year. Since it is a non-admission public school, there is definitely a percentage of the grade who don’t really care that much about academics. Only people who live in my relatively small town are allowed to attend, so although a good percentage of the grade works hard, gets straight A’s, and have good extracurriculars, we are clearly not accepting some of the most talented and driven students around the world, so the competitivity pool is much, MUCH smaller, yet we are somehow able to send practically as many students to the Ivies as the top few boarding schools.

Just putting a fresh perspective out there since I hear people all the time talk about how elite boarding schools (and private schools) straight up feed hundreds of rich kids to the Ivies each year “who didn’t really deserve it” and that public high schools are almost automatically thought of as worse. I realize this is obviously not the case with every public school, so I’m just letting you guys know that public schools like mine exist and sometimes it is better to do your research and move into a place with a public school like this than apply to private/BS which may even lower your chances of getting into a T20 school unless your current accessible public high school has below average opportunities and academics. But my point is that I have yet to find a BS that is genuinely good for feeding a lot of students to the Ivies (and they don’t actually exist at all).

I’ll agree that BS isn’t an express lane to an IVY, but I know that the one DS attended, not considered Uber selective, sent 3 to MIT and one to Stanford last year. Brown, Yale, Princeton, and Dartmouth were all represented as well. 6 in his class went to Penn, 1 to Harvard, and several to Columbia. And these kids were not legacies or athletic recruits.

They were, however, excellent students who had been able to develop into the kind of people that schools would be excited to admit. They had been able to pursue their interests in and out of the classroom, get mentoring, and generally be “their best selves”. If your LPS allows you to shine brightest, it’s your best option. Lots of kids have interests, such as elite sports, that will be best served by staying at home. Others may do better with the intensity and possible personalization of academics or they may develop skills from living in a learning community. It’s not one size fits all.

My kid undeniably was a stronger college applicant and got into a “better” school than he would have coming from our LPS because BS had allowed him to be a better version of himself – he’d had more rigor and encouragement academically, a higher level of participation (and success) in activities outside the classroom, and he was more confident of who he was. That outcome reflects our LPS, the BS, and the person he was. YMMV.