Chance Me and some questions

Hey everyone, I’m applying for 10th grade for 2023. I’m a female/Asian rising freshman. I applied for some of these schools last year, along with a couple day schools, but was waitlisted to every one except one (Commonwealth). This year I’m planning to apply to mostly T10 schools because my local high school is very good (top 30 in the nation).

Schools (no particular order):
Groton
Andover
Exeter
Nobles
Concord
Hotchkiss
Deerfield
St. Paul’s
Middlesex
Choate
Milton

I will be applying with no FA needed.

SSAT: Last year, I received a 2259, placing in the 94th percentile overall (94 verbal, 88 quantitative, 94 reading). I am planning to retake it this year with a goal of placing in the 96-98 percentile.

I attended one of our district’s public middle schools and will be attending the local high school this upcoming year. I was a good student - nothing below an A-, which was in 6th grade science. The only “accelerated” course it offered was 8th grade Honors Math, which I participated in. The school switched to standards-based grading starting in the 2021 school year, and I did not get anything below a “meeting” other than 1 “progressing” in 8th grade science.

ECs:

  • Dance (ballet) - I train 5 days a week, anywhere from 2-4 hours per day. I’ve been participating in our city’s “big” company production of The Nutcracker since 2017 (roles are assigned through audition only).
  • Piano - I’ve been playing since age 4, and have played at Carnegie Hall for various competitions since age 7 (when I started competing). I also participate in local competitions.
    *Comm. service - I arrange bi-monthy fundraiser recitals with my piano teacher. The proceeds have gone to charities such as Unicef (Ukraine war relief) and charity:water.
  • School ECS - I was a part of the Student Council (anyone could join) and Yearbook Council throughout middle school. (Because of my commitments to ballet/piano and my very busy schedule during the school year, I can’t participate in many school extracurriculars.)
  • Other - I am an avid reader (currently reading "The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue) and biking (I recently attended a bikepacking camp where we biked the length of Vermont to the Canadian border).

Questions:

  • Does anyone have general advice about applying for the '23 school year (improving ECs, etc)? * Have people had luck getting accepted to top10s while applying in 10th grade? Around how many 10th graders do these schools accept every year?
  • Is it worth it for me to apply to “second-tier” schools (such as St. Marks or Hill)? I’m worried that I won’t get into any of the schools I’m applying for because they are all so competitive. However, my local high school is very good academically (we’re a top30). I’m not sure if “second-tier” schools are worth applying for because they are on the same level of academic rigor, but at the same time I want to have “safety” schools. One of the biggest reasons that I’m applying to boarding schools is because I want to get more attention from my teachers and because I want to be surrounded by people that enjoy school/challenges as much as I do - I wouldn’t be able to get these at my LHS.
  • Are “educational consultants” actually worth it? What would they be able to help me with?

Sorry if this was very long. Thank you everyone in advance :slight_smile:

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My understanding is that these boarding schools accept many fewer incoming 10th than 9th graders, but that the percentage acceptance is about the same. Where my child attends (one of the schools you list), there are about 130 first-year and 160 second-year students. Most of the first-years return for their second years, so maybe 40 new second-years are accepted and 30 matriculate.

In my opinion, you have wonderful qualifications. However, most other applicants do as well. I think you need to tailor your list to schools that fit your interests; assuming you want to do ballet in high school, for example, apply to schools that are strong in it, and perhaps don’t apply to schools that are not. This could mean eliminating schools from your current list and adding schools a little less prestigious but with strong dance programs.

Be a positive contributor in class and a pleasure to be around so as to increase the odds of good recommendations. Show evidence of stability and maturity so that the schools don’t see you as a potential problem were you to attend.

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Do you intend to do dance at the Boarding School with the same intensity? I believe SPS has an outstanding dance program. But schools are hit or miss on offering dance.

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My own personal recommendation would be to include a few schools on your list that have somewhat higher acceptance rates, but only if you would happily attend them instead of your local high school.

I think boarding school has a lot to offer students and my guess is that your experience at many schools (even outside the schools that you listed) would compare favorably to that of your local high school.

I am not sure where you live currently, but Nobles has very few boarders and I think even those are five days only. But you may be in the Boston area.

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You do have great qualifications but you’re also in the hardest category. If you want to go to bs you need to add some higher acceptance rate schools. Only you can decide if a “second tier” school is worth it to you :woman_shrugging:. I will tell you from my experience it would be and I sometimes wish my kids had chosen a second tier instead of punishing themselves with the most rigorous schools.

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Thank you everyone for your helpful advice!

@VisibleName2 I don’t think I will be dancing at boarding school at the same level of intensity that I am now because I want to try new things while I’m there. I’ve heard nice things about SPS’ dance program as well and it seems like something I would definitely be interested in. Their website states that prospective students have the option to take a placement dance class with the ballet teacher; does anyone know how that works?

@one1ofeach @Paipt @ameridad I’m not very familiar with schools with higher acceptance rates because I only applied to top10s last year. Is there a thread on this forum which discusses these schools?

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You can find a high level of rigor at St. Mark’s, Loomis, and Taft. These are hard admits (<20%), but with your academic background, you will have a good chance of admission as a Full Pay if you show genuine interest.

NMH, Kent, Berkshire (>20%) and St. George’s are also potentially worth looking at, and they will have the rigorous honors courses you seek.

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My daughter applied to a different set of boarding schools but wanted to do at least an intermediate level of dance. Some schools will not give PE credit for dance, only arts credit. We chopped those restrictive programs off the list of final applications.

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I wanted to clarify that I would still like to dance in BS, just not as intensely as I am currently.

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10th grade admission is not necessarily more difficult, but as with all things, whether it is for you depends. It depends on the particular school - many deliberately increase the class size for 10th. Most have far fewer applications for 10th. At no school will this be the secret way to beat the system, but it’s not necessarily harder than 9th.

BUT that depends on what bucket you fill. Many schools plan to pick up a number of JBS graduates. Our school added many foreign students coming from systems with a more natural break at that point. Still, you will need to be bringing something to the class that they need or want. There are kids every year who make a good case, after starting 9th at their current school, for why BS would be better for them. Your results from last year suggest that your profile was right. It’ll be up to you to show growth and fit.

If you are open to it, you can consider repeating 9th. At any of these schools, there will be more than enough academically to engage you if you go that route. At some schools, freshmen tend to be older, so that’s a consideration.

Think about why you want to go to any BS beyond “tiers”. A consultant could help you with this, and a good one is particularly effective at this - more so than in polishing an application. When you think about where you want to go, think about what you want to learn, how you learn, the culture that appeals to you, whether ECs are ones that appeal to you, etc. You want to pick a place that’s going to allow you to be your best version of yourself. Schools vary enormously, but not as much in academic quality. Those are, as a friend in BS admissions says, “table stakes”. It’s far more like picking a vacation destination - there’s a wealth of options, and it just depends on what you’re looking for.

There are tons of excellent schools that are not household names. In many parts of the country, if you told people you attended Williams or Bowdoin, you’d get a blank stare. Based on where you live, you would probably find that surprising, but BS are similar - even more so because so few people attend them. Don’t assume because you or others don’t know them that they are not excellent.

You no doubt have intellectual peers at your current school. At even the most competitive BS, there will be students who can do the work but aren’t really into it. You need to do the work – whether you stay at your LPS or attend BS – to find your tribe.

If you want to start with schools where you can continue with ballet, use that as your first filter. There are threads here on schools for dancers as well as ones on hidden gems (few so hidden) for you to explore.

Lastly, you may want to consider whether you may be just fine where you are. You don’t sound disappointed with the academics at your current school and you have been able to pursue your ECs at a high level. Maybe you don’t need to move? I am a huge fan of BS for many reasons but it has to make sense.

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I can assure you that you were not waitlisted because of your SSAT score.

Invest your time in developing your application in other ways. Make yourself come across as thoughtful and interesting.

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Wow thank you so much @gardenstategal for the reply - you’ve given me (and my parents hahah) a lot to think about going forward. I will be keeping yours and @stalecookies’s advice in mind throughout this process!

I have another question that anyone can answer if they’d like. I anticipate that, like last year, I will be applying to many schools this year. I think that last year, I had trouble differentiating between each school/what I liked about each of them, which led me to giving some pretty generic responses during interviews and essays :grimacing:. This is definitely something that I will improve upon this year lol. How did everyone keep track of each school’s profile? Especially after school visits/interviews (or even open houses), there’s a lot to process and take note of. I used my Notes app last year but I definitely wasn’t able to capture all of my parents’ and my thoughts afterward. Do people have advice regarding this?

Again, thank you to everyone who responded. I have already gained so much knowledge from this thread and the forum!

NMH actually has a good checklist on their website to keep track of particular items as you do visits and research, but we used a template for tracking research and initial feelings after visits.

The template had general info, then questions like:

What are some new activities I want to try at this school?

What are some classes I am interested in taking at this school?

Can I see myself on this campus?

What stands out about this school?

What kind of academic schedule and curriculum does this school offer?

And more, but you get the idea. It’s a way to differentiate between the schools and understand what each one offers that is attractive to the student.

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And specifically regarding school visits, I took extensive notes during the tours and conversations with admissions counselors and we had our daughter immediately write down her impressions after the visit without talking with us first so we wouldn’t color her perceptions with our impressions. Then we had an in-depth conversation about each and added both my notes and her written impressions to the research template.

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One of the posters here who did this process multiple times with her kids recorded reactions on the phone as they drove off. I thought that was pretty inspired because everything was fresh, there was no “writing fatigue”, and even the voice tone would be a bit of a reminder afterwards of excitement level… You could easily do this and incorporate responses to questions like the ones @RoonilWazlib99 suggested.

It can all blend together pretty easily, so you’re wise to be thinking about this.

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I’m not sure if you have considered good ol’ paper, but if interviews are primarily on Zoom again this year, you might consider writing index cards with bullet points about each school. As you are looking at a school’s website or through their brochures, you might write down the aspects of the school you are interested in. You could also have a notecard with questions for each school.
Your questions have been very insightful, and I’m sure they and their responses will be really useful for a lot of applicants.

Also, I agree with @stalecookies regarding the SSAT scores.

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This is @Calliemomofgirls ! And it’s great advice! It didn’t work for my daughter’s personality as she much prefers writing to speaking, so it was just easier for her to write her thoughts and then chat with us after. But, if you’re a talker, recording your initial impressions and conversations with a parent/guardian after the visit is a great way to keep track of all those things that will start blurring together after a few visits.

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If you apply to the schools that suit you and your family, you won’t have difficulty remembering why you like them!

Decide what’s important to you, and use that information plus your research to whittle down your list to something manageable, with perhaps three to four “reaches” and two or three schools likely easier to gain admittance. Do you want a smaller school or a larger one? (From your list in your original post, smaller would be Groton, Middlesex and Concord, for example, while larger would be Andover, Exeter.) Do you and your parents want a school with a lot of adult supervision (e.g., Hotchkiss, St. Paul’s and Groton, I imagine), or one in which the kids are left more or less on their owns (I’ve heard Andover, Exeter, Choate)? Do you need a school with a good ballet teacher and program (St. Paul’s and maybe Deerfield), or not? Do you want an athletic school or one that’s more artsy (Concord)? Do you want virtually all boarding (e.g., Hotchkiss, Deerfield, St. Paul’s, Groton) or more of a mix between boarding and day (e.g, Milton, Andover, Exeter, Choate)? Do you want one with a stricter dress code (e.g., Deerfield), or a loose one (e.g., Andover)? Do you want all Harkness (Exeter), or more of a mix between discussion and lecture, with a stronger teacher presence in the classroom? Do you want to be pretty close to a major airport and urban area (the New Hampshire and Boston-area schools), or do you want to be in a more rural area (e.g., Hotchkiss and Deerfield)?

Of course there may be other issues that are important to you and your family. But these were some that we considered when our child was applying.

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