Can I get into Choate Rosemary Hall?

Have you taken a practice SSAT or ISEE test ? I think that you might be surprised at your score. Many students who score in the high 90s on other standardized tests in middle school score much lower on the SSATs.

Years ago, an acquaintence who headed a very prestigious day school in a major US city told me that even though overenrolled that they would make a spot for an applicant who scored an 85 or better on the SSAT.

Scoring in the 80s on the SSAT is not an easy accomplishment as one is competing against just the best students whose families place a high value on education.

Most of the kids whom I know at the elite prep boarding schools were known as the smartest in their class & in need of greater academic challenges.

I am planning on taking the ISEE for the schools that let me choose which test I take. There are two reasons for this. Since I am stronger in math, and the ISEE has a larger math section, I will probably score higher on it. I also read online that the ISEE is very similar to the standardized test I took at my school (ERB) because they were made by the same company, so hopefully it is not too different like what you said about the SSAT.

I have not taken the practice ISEE and SSAT yet and am planning to this weekend since my decision to apply happened only recently.

FWIW, my son graduated from Hotchkiss in the class of '19. He had the same sort of grades in public middle school as the OP and was a typically over represented white kid from an over represented suburb in Westchester County, NY. His SSAT was in the 80th percentile. His application represented his personality well and he had a good interview but he had no hook other than music. Do these schools admit many kids like that? Probably not. But it is a holistic review and sometimes a score of 80% (or lower) coupled with the right fit and some institutional need works. Low admission rates make all of these schools a reach for everyone. If the OP is open to more realistic suggestions, I’d look at Kent. It is much more like Hotchkiss than most people think.

With regard to the audition, we only looked at about 8 schools in total between my three kids and the audition at Choate was suggested by the admissions officer there after I brought my kid’s talent to his attention. I would suggest calling or e-mailing admissions to see if you can arrange that. Other schools seemed to rely more upon the arts supplement that goes with the application but there certainly would be no harm in asking if you can meet with someone in the music department when you visit other schools.

Just to be clear, the reason it is harder to score high on the SSAT vs other standardized tests is that the pool of kids taking the SSAT is not representative of the general population. Your score will be compared with kids wanting to attend selective private schools. So it’s a self selected group of really bright kids! So, for example a kid that would score in the 95th percentile on the SAT might score in the 70th percentile on the SSAT. Still the same smart kid.

And one more thing, unless it has changed recently, you will need to take the SSAT so I’d look into that ASAP. Day schools tend to use the ISEE. Boarding schools like the SSAT.

@sophmoreboarding we are also from NJ, and my S also in private day school (since K.) He wanted to apply out to boarding school. He applied to both Lawrenceville and Choate 2 years ago. He had a 4.0 and 98th % SSAT. He played multiple sports and had many service hours. He was rejected by Lawrenceville and accepted at Choate. He ended up staying at his current day school. In the end, I did not want him to go. The 4-5 hour drive to CT (always traffic) made it just too far away and I had an older child starting the college process and we would be spending many weekends traveling for college visits. We spoke to many students and parents at the Choate revisit and it seemed like parents visited their children every weekend or every other weekend because they lived closer (New England) and we would not be able to do that. He was very disappointed at the time but some time later told me he was glad he was not going away for school. He’s really enjoying the new freedoms of being in upper school and the academics are challenging.

I think some of the posters are being a bit harsh. Being first statewide in violin means you would likely be someone who could eventually be first chair ( similar to best player on a varsity team but for music). Congrats.
Also SSAT scores are overrated on this board. If they already have too many kids who are similar you will not get in. And you will still be highly qualified. Nothing you can fo about it except present your best self. If you are lucky your school is well known to Choate so they can determine how strong you really are.
Choate is a great place you should apply. There are lots of types of kids there.

I agree that OP has a shot at CRH and sounds like a terrific kid. It also sounds like there is a strong desire to go to BS although staying put is a decent option.

I think a lot of posters are saying that if going to BS is a strong preference, casting a wider net will help. On these boards, that message is often conveyed harshly. (And that’s fodder for a separate thread!) But the parents are not so well informed and will only accept brand name schools.

I do not think that any posters are being harsh when trying to inject a dose of reality into one’s journey when applying to the nation’s most elite boarding schools without even so much as an SSAT score.

Would it be harsh to inform a college applicant that applying only to the Ivies, Stanford & MIT is not a wise course of action–especially before taking the SAT or ACT ?

@Publisher, while the intention behind the message is sound, you are speaking to an eighth grader who has never done this before. Bluntness may be fine for an 18 year old, but not for a 14 year old doing this on her own who is genuinely asking for help. Erring on the side of kindness when you don’t know her level of sensitivity has no downside. Bluntness does.

Also to note, there are kids who get 99% on their SSAT and do not get in everywhere they apply. Why? Many kids, in the same pool as many others, a thousand different reasons. My kid got 99% and got into 2/4 schools. My younger one just got almost the same score, do I expect an acceptance at every school March 10Th? No, just as I would not expect an acceptance at a top college based on a perfect SAT and top grades. It’s more than stats. Really, it is.

Some schools have many kids applying from the same private or public school. Some schools have tons of legacy kids in a particular year. And there are many other factors, like FA or geographic diversity, or URM, or economic status. There isn’t a magic formula.

OP, if you cannot get a meeting with the music chair, make a video. Really. And don’t send the video, send a link ( that way technology will not get in your way).

Don’t worry about the SSAT’s. It’s just one part of the package. Make sure your essay is great (take out all that stuff about privilege and talk about who you are and what makes you unique), make sure your recommendations are strong and have a good interview ( look people in the eye, shake their hands firmly, ask good questions). You will then have a great chance.

Even ninth graders–such as the OP–need to be aware that the SSAT test score is very important when applying to boarding schools such as Andover, Exeter, Choate & Lawrenceville. To indicate otherwise is just plain untruthful.

This is especially true in OP’s case as she assumes that her ERB scores indicate her likely scores on the tests required by boarding schools, and, therefore, does not plan to devote much time to test prep.

OP: Understanding the difficulty & importance of the SSAT test results should help you to develop a realistic list of target boarding schools.

@sophmoreboarding : OP, if you wish to enter schools such as Andover, Exeter, Groton, etc. as a sophomore student, please understand that most of the class will have one year’s experience at these ultra-competitive, highly demanding boarding school environments if you are given the opportunity to enter into one of these communities.

Approaching this with a lackadaisacal attitude towrad the SSAT is likely to result in disappointment and shows that you misunderstand the true nature of these boarding school environments. It is not all lollipops & gumdrops as some may indicate.

I encourage you to approach the SSAT with the same level of intensity & preparation as you do with respect to playing the violin.

I wish that you would at least take a properly timed practice SSAT test so that you understand the task at hand. This, in turn, may help you to realize & appreciate the academic talent found at many boarding schools beyond your short list.

Posters with a great deal of experience are encouraging you to expand your list of schools to include outstanding boarding schools such as St. Andrew’s School in Delaware (which most closely resembles your desired type of community) and the Kent School in Connecticut.

I don’t think that you realize how driven the students are at the elite boarding schools. Academically you need to be at the same level as you are at playing the violin.

P.S. OP: Please do not view my directness as a lack of concern for you & your dreams–in fact, it is the opposite.

@Publisher Jumping in here with a different take. My understanding from OP was that because parents just recently agreed to BS, time was short for SSAT prep. My sense was not one of lackadaisical attitude or presumption getting in the way. And yes you have so much wisdom to share and the information is helpful. But as an outsider with zero skin in the game myself, my reading of your tone was that it was a bit harsh. Truth — even when it’s hard — doesn’t have to be unkind. (In fact the harder the truth, perhaps the kinder we should think about presenting it?)

I am appreciative towards many people who are not as harsh, as some of the feedback was a little hurtful since I was misunderstood often (not anyone’s fault because they don’t know a lot about me and only know what I posted). I have done lots of research with my parents and am more knowledgeable now. I can see where the harshness is coming from because I know that the world is like that. I don’t think I was underestimating the schools, as I also go to a school with a very competitive environment (and for a long time). The worry for me is dealing with the competitiveness by myself because I usually always have my mom who unconditionally supports me with love. But I think I will be fine with time to adjust. I get a sense that many people got the impression that I was ignorant and sensitive since I am especially sensitive in that area. In fact, many people say I am the opposite like mature and independent (in general), but boarding school and finding who I am is something I am sensitive about because I bottled a lot of it up in the past couple years. I can handle hurtful comments and harsh criticism, which is why I am on this site without my parents knowing. I have a better understanding of my chances now, and hopefully things will work out the way I hope. Thanks for all your advice!

OP: Please do not mistake honesty for harshness.

I think that you need to do further research as what daily life is like at the most elite prep boarding schools.

Many, probably most if not all, allow students to check into the infirmary for a day due to stress & exhaustion as a result of academic pressure & expectations. It is not uncommon for some students to develop stress related disorders.

If you are looking to “find yourself”, you need to look beyond schools that are geared toward finding the best, brightest, most hardworking & most competitive.

Please do not mistake a sweet tone & kindness for friendship or, especially, for wise advice. I have read of a few excuses for you proffered by other posters & excuses offered by you.

Life is, in large part, about choices. You can choose which advice to follow & which advice to ignore & act accordingly. Right now, the matter is still within your control with respect to how hard you work toward your goal.

If you find my words to be harsh or less than honest, then I question your suitability for ultra-competitive boarding schools such as Andover, Exeter, Groton, etc.

I get the impression that you think that schools such as St. Andrew’s School, Kent School, Mercersburg Academy, Blair Academy and any school of lesser prestige than Andover, Exeter, Choate, Lawrenceville are not worthy of your consideration. That just reveals how much you have to learn about the world of prep boarding schools.

Finally, I urge you to take a properly timed & administered SSAT practice test.

As an additional thought, please research the Cate School & the Thacher School which are both located in California. Regardless of whether or not you would consider attending boarding school in California, I think that understanding the culture of these two schools–as well as the George School & St. Andrew’s School in the East–will assist you if refining what you are seeking.

@sophmoreboarding OP, being able to achieve a high level of proficiency in one thing carries over into other things. One of my kids played violin for 10 years (3-13). It takes a really concerted effort to play well. That cannot be underestimated. Playing violin makes kids able to do math well ( there are many studies about this), it challenges someone to do repetitive things over and over until they master the material ( transfers into life). It’s also a great outlet to play when stressed. My kid plays sometimes just to relax ( BTW, that is the reason we had lessons in the first place).
Are top BS competitive? Yes. Can you handle it? Likely. It’s not as though it’s a lions den. You go out, do your best and rework the material. Keep pushing yourself. Are some of the kids and parents over the top? You bet. But they are still people. Each has strengths and weaknesses. Don’t believe for a minute that you shouldn’t apply. Go in with confidence and strength. Apply to other schools because you don’t know what the results are going to be( I would tell any kid this). BS’s offer an excellent education and the ability to stretch yourself in many ways with lots of deep resources. Any kid who has reached a level of proficiency in any field can use what they have in 8th grade to get to 12th.

I have often found in life that many people will tell you what you cannot do. I never listened. Thankfully. Else I would have ended up in a small town working in a store. Listen to your own heart and go for it. Good luck!!