Chance me for 10+ boarding high schools!

Hi! I am from Lexington, Massachusetts and looking for boarding school application help. I am applying to Andover, Exeter, Groton, Middlesex, Milton, Concord, Berkshire, Brooks, St. Mark’s, Tabor, Governor, and NMH. I don’t currently have a top choice school, and I’m still researching a lot of them.
I will consider any schools in New England, if there are any that are suitable for me.
Gender/Ethnicity/School/Financial stuff:
Female, Asian, Public, FA undecided.
Parents did not go to a private school in America. Attending aout 3-4 webinars everyday, since there are 13 schools.

Applying for:
9th grade

SSAT: (not the best score, scheduled a retake in January.)
Reading: 695
Verbal: 725
Math: 770
Overall: 2190, percentile is 87% for gender grade, and 86% for grade.

Interviewed Berkshire, Andover, Tabor, St. Mark’s, Milton, and NMH. Interviewing with Brooks tomorrow. Rest of the schools have interviews scheduled in January. Personally I think all the interviews went fairly well, but there’s a lot of them and I’m trying to keep track.

Still working on essays. I am writing everything, trying to get all the essays in at around Christmas.

Recommendations:
All recommendations requested, but since I’m using 2 different platforms it’s kinda hard to keep track. (gateway and SAO). Personal recommendations are done for both, and any teacher is finished for SAO. Counsellor recommendations are also finished.

School Report/grades:
So basically I transferred from a school in asia to my current school in Lexington. The curriculums are compeltely different, so I’m not too sure what to write. First school had an IB scoring system, and I score 50/56 for Grade 7, (term 1) ,46/56 for Grade 6 (Term 1) and 51/56 for Grade 6 (term 2). From what I know it is very hard to score above 50, but for term 1 in grade 6 I got a low score because I wasn’t used to the new grading system.
In my current school (I transferred here a month before the pandemic hit) we’re using something called ‘standar based grading’. There are only 3 standars, B for beginning, P for progressing, and M for meeting. They all mean whether you are ‘achieving’ the standars or not. For most subjects I think I will get M’s. I am aso in Math Honors, so that’s something I guess.

EC’s: (there were a lot more offered in my previous school)
-Piano 8 years
-Clarinet 1 year
-Percussion 1 year
-Xylophone 1 year
-Marimba 1 year
-Basketball 4 years (3 years of school team)
-Volleyball 1 year (1 year school team)
-Swimming 9 years (2 years of school team)
-Tennis 2 years
-Near 200 hours of community service (within 4 years)
-IB Learner profile award (1 out of 600+, special scholarship)
-Academic Excellence in Chinese(4 out of 200+) (Scholarship)
-Linguist scholarship (2 out of 200+)
-Ocean science club
Student government (DEI Student advisory council)
-One of the youngest junor prefects in my previous school
-Befriender (literally befriending kids)
-School band (clarinet)
-Service award (for 40+ hours of service in a year)x2
-Student newspaper editor
-School team debate team
-School yearbook editor
-And I’m pretty sure there’s more but I can’t remember them… I’ll add them if I think of them!

Thank you!

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It is standards-based grading, not standars.

Yes, that might sound picky, but you made the same mistake often enough for it not to be a mere typos. In explaining your school’s grading system, you first need to know it by the correct name.

I am unsure of what you are looking in a school, or the level of your accomplishments. If you are currently at a private school, and the schools on your list were reccomended, then you are probably fine.

Thank you!

I am still researching a lot of the schools on the list, and I wold prefer a small school, with not over 400+ students, but I’m not too sure yet.

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Small can be beautiful.

You should think about how you learn, and focus on the schools that match your learning style. Boarding schools are looking for students who are a “good fit”, and different schools have a different idea of what that is.

You have a lot of things listed. You should focus on highlighting the activities and accomplishments that are most important to you. What are “must have” activities for you?

Also, are you applying to all these schools as a boarder? Some of them are easily commutable from Lexington.

Thanks for the reply. Yes, I am applying as a boarder. And I talked to my parents about FA, and we decided not to apply FA, that is, I am FP. Hope this helps.

A bit worried about my SSAT scores (87%). I know it is test-optional this year, but I still want an over 90% score to submit to schools to prove my academic ability, esp. for those ‘top’ names. Due to the pandamic this year, my current school changed the grading in spring with all ‘P’ (pass), and the grading for this fall with ‘M’, ‘P’ and ‘B’. Though I should get all Ms for this fall’s trimester (will know that next Monday), I still feel that it may not be a strong evidence of my academics while other schools are using A-F, or 1-5, or 100 grading systems. Before the spring of this year, I was enrolled in an IB-based school overseas, where my scores are 51/56 and 50/56 for grade 6 and grade 7. These are very good scores, but I am afraid that AOs may not be familiar with the IB grading.

Any comments will be highly appreciated!

The first thing that jumps out at me is that you want a small school but Exeter and Andover are on your list. They are both 1000 student schools. Not sure about the rest numbers wise but other than those two your list seems fine.

Your ssat score is fine.

Agree with the above, you need to condense your activities/achievements list a bit to really highlight the things you’re most passionate about.

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AOs are very familiar with ib grading.

AOs of schools in the Boston area are also very familiar with the reputations of the various Metro-West school districts, and you are in a good district.

I agree with @one1ofeach about the size of Andover and Exeter.

If you really want to continue in competitive swimming, for example, you should eliminate the schools that don’t have swim teams. Yes, there are private swim clubs, but that’s really only feasible for day students.

Thanks so much for the reply. I was at first of no idea about what kind of school would fit me. So I just ‘ranked’ some schools around my area based on some information online. That is why PA dn PEA are included. After I researched more and more about schools, I would prefer relatively small schools. I finished 7 interviews, and still have 6 to go in Jan. Feel more comfortable about my scores now. Thanks!

Thanks for the comments. Right, I didn’t realize quite some schools in NE don’t have swimming pools. But I am fine with it. I may try other sports instead. One thing concerning me is about my recc lettters from my current Math and English teachers. I am in the current school for just one year, and currently a fully remote learner. My teachers are nice, but I don’t think they know me well. So I guess my recc’s may not be strong enough to AOs. But that is what it is. Can’t change anything. I did request the recc as ‘Personal Recc’ from the teacher in my previous school, and the ‘Special Interest Recc’ from my piano teacher who is teaching at Berklee, Boston, which hopefully are helpful.

Hey! I think you’re a wonderful candidate! I’m currently a student at Andover, but I applied to nine schools (applying to a lot of schools can be tough and expensive, I would prioritize deciding on a list of schools to apply to before continuing the application process). I’m also female and Asian with no legacy.

I would honestly not worry too much about the SSAT, especially since this year is optional. I have friends at school with scores ranging from 85-99% ( I personally scored a 96%). One of my friends has an academic scholarship with 85%. If you score above 90% your SSAT would be solid, but 86% is not bad at all.

Essays were hard for me as I realized at first I wasn’t being personal enough. Make sure you don’t write too much about what happened, but how it made you feel and what you learned from it.

I’m from Asia so I also was graded on an IB system during middle school. Your scores are great! I got mostly 7s and 8s and ranged from 49 to 55 (haha). Don’t worry about the AOs being familiar with the scoring system, they have to review many international student applicants each year.

Your EC’s!! So impressive! However the list is a bit long, you should really focus on the things you are most passionate about. I didn’t mention every single extracurricular I’ve done on my application because I felt like “violin for 2 years when I was 8” was relevant. I have been playing the piano and dancing my whole life, so I focused on this during the interview and essays. I even made a compilation of my past performances and sent it to the schools (both piano and ballet).

Good luck!

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@dancingpianist : Does Andover award academic scholarships ?

@Lex6314: Andover, Exeter, & Groton are the most selective schools on your list. As a full pay student with lots of ECs in a variety of areas and solid numbers, you should receive very strong consideration at the remaining schools on your list.

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@dancingpianist Thank you so much for your comments. Yes, there is still a lot of work on the essays (I haven’t done half of that as school homework was too much this past trimester). A bit nervous about it. Good news is that report card of last trimester was released yesterday, and grades and comments on the report are pretty good.

For ECs, right, I didn’t think carefully at the first, and just listed all my activities in the candidate profile (which was submitted already).

Also graded essay and graded math sample (some schools are requiring it this year) are somehow confusing to me. As a fully remote learner this year, I don’t have a typical ‘graded and commentted’ sample. I am working with my teachers to prepare these ‘graded’ things.

I will work hard on my essays during this holiday! Jan 15 is approaching …

Thank you! Yes, top schools are very selective. So I added more schools with an acceptance rate around 30% in my list. But from what I heard and researched, the number of applications to private schools this year will be crazily high, esp. for those well-known names. Wish me a good luck!

Update: I also applied for SPS and Taft last minute. Interviews are scheduled. Currently working on essays, and I’m a bit stressed that they wouldn’t go in on time. Any advice on that?
Also, I’m thinking about submitting my current SSAT score. I probably won’t get a 93+ ish %-tile, and it doesn’t matter cuz the schools can see that it was a second attempt, and personally, I feel like 87% for a first attempt is better than a 90 on the second attempt. I’m talking to my parents about that.
If I calculated the dates correctly, the scores come out on Jan 14th to me, and the deadlines are on Jan 15th. I have to send the scores (if it’s good) to the schools one by one, and I have no idea how long that’s gonna take. There are 10 schools on SAO so that’ll be fast, but I’m worried about the ones on Gateway (andover, exeter, groton, SPS, deerfield). Should I even retake the test? I have basically no time to study and my score won’t improve by a lot. Just seems like a waste of time now.

Rec update:
Eng: kinda blind. probably 8/10 since my teacher said she’ll write about my leadership skills and stuff.
Math: very blind. Teacher is always forgetful and busy, the highest is probably around 7/10? He’s nice but strict, and he told me to participate more in class so idk how that’s gonna go…
Counsellor: never talked to her before asking for the rec. haven’t even talked for an hour in total yet. She asked me to talk about myself and seemed impressed ig. Asked me what I want her to write about in the rec, and I was startled cuz idk if I’m allowed to say that? best probably 8/10.
Personal: my previous science teacher. He’s a nice guy, and I do really well in his class. Maybe 9-10/10?
Special Interest: My piano teacher. Nice, and really likes me. Probably 9-10/10.
Any teacher 1: Blind. Science teacher. I perform well in her class, and she always talks to me before class. Only Deerfield will read her rec, so it’s not a really big deal for me. 8/10 I suppose.
Any teacher rec 2: French teacher. Knows me pretty well, and I had her last year. Was kinda scary how fast she submitted the form. Knows I’m more advanced in French than my classmates, so she’ll probably write about that. 8/10 too.
(*all of my teachers have written thousands of recs before so I really don’t know what they’re gonna write.)
My weakness is my rec cuz I barely know my teachers, and being fully remote doesn’t help either so yeah. All recs are submitted except for the Eng and Math ones. I got my graded writing sample as well, so that’s good. Working on the graded math for groton, and writing A LOT of essay this break. Really struggling about the SSAT thing. Would love some advice!

I agree with @dancingpianist. You should really narrow down your ECs and focus on two or three that you are very passionate about because a school would rather accept someone who’s amazing at, say, the violin (very cliche), than someone who does like 5 or 6 ECs superficially.

Thank you!

Yes, I did do that I the end and mentioned my strongest ECs (service, language and stuff) on my essays, so I hope that helps. I checked my candidate profile and realized I didn’t put all my ECs bc the system didn’t let me. Thank god for that.