Chance me for Exeter and Andover? (International Applicant)

Hi Everyone,

I’m reposting this with a lot of edits, since a lot of things changed in the recent months (narrowed down schools, etc) so here we go?

Just some background: I’m currently on summer break, but I’ll be an eighth grader upon returning to school, and I live in Switzerland.

I am applying to: (for 9th grade)
Phillips Exeter Academy
Phillips Academy in Andover

I’m only applying to these two schools because I already go to an excellent school, and so it’s only really in my interest to move schools if it’s a huge improvement, also because my school’s K-12 so I already have a viable high school option.

FA: I do go to a private IB school, however my parents receive an education grant from the UN, so I have to be applying for FA wherever I decide to apply to.

Grades: We don’t get ranked, or have a GPA, or actually even get number grades for some reason, until this upcoming school year, however my grades have always been excellent, even though there are a few Bs in there every now and then. Definitely mostly A+/As.


I speak English, French and Spanish fluently as mother tongue languages, and I just finished my second year of learning German.


Soccer, basketball, tennis, conservatory level piano for eight years, I graduated from a music theory program at the same school with honors, I do LAMDA theater, just took the exam and am expecting a very high grade, taught myself guitar, a few extra music classes (improv, electronic music) I do history bee (2 years, last year got 4th place in the varsity category with 16 year olds), and I compose music in my free time.

Next year I plan on doing one or two sports, theatre, piano and piano improv, and history bee, though this might change.

Community Service:

Our school being an IB school has a Service Action program. I raised money to send “Ultimate Frisbee kits” to schools all across Zambia, and made sure that they were taught to play the sport, including schools for people with impaired hearing, etc. This year was difficult because of COVID so only thing was a canned food drive.


Tests are optional this year, so should I take them? It would be quite difficult, (I believe there’s no test center in my country, but I haven’t checked recently) but my parents believe it would help given that I’m “unknown” as in not from a US school?

Last thing, I’m transgender (female-to-male), and currently in the middle of figuring out social transition plans etc, which is an awful timeline considering I need to start my application extremely soon. I know these schools have all-gender dorms which I would be very interested in, which is another of the reasons I’m only applying to these two, but will my being trans affect my application negatively, or are there any extra steps I should take?

I think there’s no huge “hook” to my application, it’s more well-rounded with sports/arts, etc, instead of a huge focus on one thing.

What do you think my chances are and is there anything I should improve or highlight? This was extremely long so thank you for reading!

I can’t chance you (I am a parent, and don’t know the ins and outs of those schools) but I want to say you write exceptionally well and I applaud you for putting yourself out there with this thread. Well done you.

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@schuylersister07, I agree with @cinnamon1212. I’m an incoming student at a boarding school so I’ve been where you’ve been, but I’m no expert. Because you don’t have many grades due to your schools grading, I would recommend you take the test. I don’t think you’ll be penalized if you don’t take it, but it may be helpful. Don’t rush to take the test, but only take it if it is accessible to you. I don’t think being trans has a significant impact and probably will not change your chances at all. I do think however, if it’s something your comfortable doing, it could make for excellent essays. I applaud you for standing up at such a young age and saying “this is who I am.” Not a lot of young people can do that.

Bottom line: If it’s accessible, try to take the test. It’ll probably help. If not, they’ll understand. No big deal.

You seem like an accomplished young man. How much FA will you be needing? If you need a full ride, it’s a lot harder than if you need 10k USD to make it work.

Bonne chance! Je parle un peu français.

Thank you! The lack of grades might end up being a slight issue, so I’m looking into taking the test but there aren’t any centers in my country! I’d need not a full ride, but still a quite significant amount to make it work. Thanks again for your advice.

Hi there,

If you believe these 2 schools will be a step up from your current excellent school, there are others that would qualify as well and that also have all-gender dorms and/or all-gender dorm floors.

The more schools you apply to, the greater your chances. Both of the schools you mentioned had acceptance rates of around 10%, which means unhooked acceptance rates were in the single digits. There are other schools that had similarly low acceptance rates and strong admitted pools.

Good luck to you.

Loomis Chaffee also has an all gender dorm according to their site.

I can’t chance you since I’m no admission officer but I’ll give it my best shot. I’m an incoming student at Exeter and I feel your struggle since I was just there.

I’m with @lilyesh 100% here, I don’t think being trans would negatively impact your chances at all. Being so comfortable in your own skin might do the opposite and attract the admission office.

It might be a little tough considering your school doesn’t do grades so the admission office doesn’t exactly know where you stand academically. If you feel confident enough that your essays and your EC’s can stand you out. I wouldn’t find the SSAT as much as a priority. However you mentioned you are a more well-rounded applicant so I would try to sell yourself as a package deal that includes the SSAT. However, if the SSAT score is below 90%, it’s dicey on whether you should turn it in or not.

About being international, I don’t have much information on so if anyone who knows more could jump in.

My main things looking at your stats are ECs. I think you should try to highlight your community service; especially in the interviews. In the interviews by talking about your community service. Honestly, the reason I say this is cause it’s a little easier to talk about it cause when you write about it, most times it sounds like the generic “I learned a lot. I am fulfilled”
Side Note: If you do plan to write about it (which is a great essay topic!) remember: Show, not tell. Both Andover and Exeter’s motto is “Non Sibi” which means “Not for self”. Use that info as you wish.

My last thing is always always play to your strengths. You mention that you do soccer; if you are serious, the best thing for you to do is to first fill out the prospective athlete form. If after a while the coach does not respond try and email them. Sometimes it will slip through the cracks since coaches can receive upward of 70 emails a week. Same thing for piano. Email the head of the piano department with a video. If they think your skills would benefit their section of the school, they will push for you in the admissions which makes a big difference.

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I feel like this would make a great application!! Also, both those schools are need-blind which means your FA will not affect your application.
I would definitely suggest preparing for the SSAT like finding a tutor. A tutor would also be helpful for the whole application process.

Hi, I’m a current upper (11th grade) at Exeter! You seem like a great applicant. I don’t think the lack of grades will be a big issue, as Exeter has most definitely seen this before and will not hurt your chances because of it. I agree with other posters that you should try as much as possible to convey your passions through your essays. Exeter loves passion! As for all-gender dorms, the community there is great and Exeter is a very accepting place. I do not think that you being trans will hinder your application in the slightest, and the trans community at exeter is great! Good luck!