Chance me for Private High Schools

I’m applying for 9th grade to a number of private boarding high schools.


  • US Citizen
  • I live in Connecticut, born in NY
  • I go to a decently rated public middle school
  • Asian, Male
  • Second Generation Immigrant

GPA, Rank, and Test Scores

  • GPA - 3.91
  • SSAT - 2302

*I do ordinary middle school courses, except I skipped a grade in math, so I take Geometry at my local high school instead.

NJHS Membership
Presidential Award for Academic Excellence (2020)
Baseball town League Championship Winner, Spring 2021 & 2022
Southern Region Middle School Festival Band 2023 (It’s a band of ~90 students from across 44 towns and cities, gained through audition) - B-flat Clarinet
WCMTA Select Student’s Competition Winner 2018, 2019, and 2023 (piano)
Honor Roll Student

*Piano for 8 years, Baseball for 8 years, Clarinet for 4 years, Writing for 4 years, Speech & Debate for 3 years, Model Government for 3 years, Community Service for 2 years, Cross Country for 2 years, Jazz Band for 2 years, Model U.N. this year

Pretty Strong

Cost Constraints / Budget

(List of colleges by your initial chance estimate; designate if applying ED/EA/RD; if a scholarship is necessary for affordability, indicate that you are aiming for a scholarship and use the scholarship chance to estimate it into the appropriate group below)

  • Safety | N/A
  • Likely | The Hill School, Taft School, Loomis Chaffee School
  • Match | Choate Rosemary Hall, The Hotchkiss School, Phillips Andover Academy
  • Reach | Phillips Exeter Academy, Deerfield Academy, St. Paul’s School, Lawrenceville

You sound like a great kid! And one who will be an asset at whichever school you end up attending.

Unfortunately you’ve picked all the hardest to get admitted to schools there are. Many have admit rates under 10%. That means 90% of kids get denied. What does this mean? It means no applicant has a really good chance of getting admitted. So what are your chances? The same as other applicants: small.

Does this mean you shouldn’t apply? No, you should figure out which ones are the best fits for you and apply. I love the saying “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”. So take your shot! Those are your “reach” schools. (I think all the schools you list are reaches, though I’m not familiar with the Hill School. Loomis might be a target too).

If you are set on going to boarding school then I would urge you to investigate other excellent schools. Some I’ve seen mentioned include Berkshire, Northfield Mount Hermon, Williston Northhampton, Millbrook, The George School, Mercersburg. There are more!


How do you distinguish “match” from “reach”?

Match is admission that closely matches the student’s academic and awards. Basically means you have a better chance in those schools than the other average applicant.

Reach is that your slightly below average of their regular kids who get admitted. So like its kinda a stretch you’ll get in.

Some advice from what I think is expanding your list of schools to apply to. The schools you applied to are reach schools except maybe Loomis and Hill (The other schools are insanely hard to get into). And for Awards and ecs when you list them this year you can only write about 2021+ for Gateway and Ravena.

Also think about getting more awards and try making a impact on what your doing. Even if you create new stuff for your ecs you can email your AO and update them about what you recently did even after submitting all the ecs in sept or later months.

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You’re slightly below Deerfield Academy, St. Paul’s School, and Lawrenceville applicants but closely match applicants of Andover and Choate.

Andover and Choate are among the top three prep schools in the country per the Niche Private High School Rankings so that’s pretty impressive.

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I think you are probably likely to get into one or more of the schools you have listed, but agree that you should add more “safety” or as we like to say here, “hidden gem” schools to your list. You just never know what schools you are going to match with - for example this year, one of my son’s classmates this year got into St Pauls, Deerfield and Lawrenceville but not Andover, which was her top choice. I do think most of the schools you listed are reaches for everyone, because they are the most well known and have SO MANY applicants. I would focus less on your stats and scores and start thinking about preparing for interviews and essays. And visit as many as you can - some schools that my son thought looked great on their websites, he ended up crossing off his list after visiting them in person. You have to remember that boarding school is not just about grades and getting in to college, but is a place where you are going to LIVE for the next few years, so start figuring out what kind of community you want to be a part of (ie. rural vs in a town, bigger school vs smaller school, etc).


Did you mean to reply to the @Floorboard ? And in my opinion Andover and Choate aren’t a match. One of my close friends got into both and their ecs and stuff were way different than the main person. I think if the main person has music as a EC the matches are Deerfield and Hotchkiss. Because all my friends who got into Andover all were insane at a sport and insane at one academic subject (They all were top 1% for the AMC 8, and top 5% for the AMC 10, etc)

I think that they’re all very hard to get into, however, I think that my EC’s and general interests match closer with the schools I’ve listed as “Match” schools rather than the “Reach” schools (or I haven’t done very thorough research on a school, I put it in the “Reach” category aswell), and me being a “better fit” for a school might influence my chances of getting in.

For example, I’ve heard very good things about Hotchkiss’ piano program from my piano teacher - it’s supposed to be exceptional compared to other CT schools like Kent, Choate, Taft, etc. In fact, the competition me and my teacher are preparing for this spring, the Audrey Thayer competition, (which is pretty prestigious) has some of the best students from Hotchkiss itself every year. This means that my participation and performance in said competition would be more recognized by Hotchkiss admissions than by, say, a non-CT school that had never heard if the competition. In addition, my piano-playing would also be more notable in itself, because Hotchkiss’ has an exceptional piano program and I’m a great piano player (evidenced by recordings & competitions), on top of other parts of my application, such as my having skipped a grade in math and Hotchkiss being a great STEM school, cumulatively, I believe it all would make me a “good fit” for Hotchkiss.

When considering Choate, I think my school gives me more of an advantage in Choate than in other schools. According to my school counselor, my school will send a student to Choate once every couple years, meaning AOs will have heard of my school at some point, and the students that it has produced may lend more credit to my application. In addition to that, I’m interested in very specific & unique parts of Choate substantiated by my EC’s - notably, its JFK Program in Government and Public Service. My Speech & Debate and Model U.N. histories serve to back up that interest, as well as my community service and NJHS membership.

I also think these are the schools in which I have the best talking points for interviews, and the noes I have researched most. When asked, for example, the question “Why do you want to go to Choate?”, I will be able to talk about its JFK program, something unique to the school itself that can’t be emulated; to give a non-generic reply.

However, I think that I have still over-estimated my chance of admission. A better and more revised chance estimate for myself would probably be:

  • Safety | N/A
  • Likely |
  • Match | The Hill School, Loomis Chaffee School, Taft School, Hotchkiss School (maybe)
  • Reach | Choate, Andover, Exeter, Deerfield, SPS, and Lawrenceville.
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You look like a strong applicant, and I suspect you will have acceptances in spring. I like the way you can articulate why you feel certain schools are good fits, although that doesn’t make them matches. Continue to think about all the schools in the sense of the experience you want. You should be able to articulate for every school on your list why it would be a good place for you and your interests.

I suspect with good interviews, you will have options in the spring AND I agree that you should check out some “hidden gem” schools. If you are going to consider Lawrenceville, take a look at Peddie and George, both of which are about 20 minutes away (and with L’ville, allow easy access to NYC and Philadelphia for top piano teachers.) If you want to stay closer to home, what about Westminster, Millbrook, or Kent?

A lot of people start this process thinking “I am a very strong student and I need to be around really strong students and they will be at the most selective, well-known BS.” In reality, there are very smart kids at all the BS and teachers who are excited about teaching them. Where they are located, how they deliver their curriculum, and what the “vibe” is vary, and matching that to your wants is how you find the best place for you.

You may end up with the same list after that exercise, but maybe the looking will clarify how these schools will be best for you.


Sounds like you did some excellent analysis in investigating what the respective schools offer.

As an aside, Choate offers outstanding opportunity when it comes to the Arts as evidenced by the first rate Paul Mellon Arts Center and Colony Hall. Not sure where Choate ranks piano program wise.

Good luck!

As a general thought, piano is a tougher sell as an hook. You need lots of violins for an orchestra. You need a bunch of players to have an ice hockey team. But pianists? You don’t need many and opportunities to contribute are less plentiful. To be very accomplished is impressive and says something about you, for sure, so don’t sell yourself short there, but be thoughtful about how you can communicate how you want to use your talent to contribute to the community.


I think that with Choate, a lot of serious applicants all talk about one of the programs and have activities to back it up - so that alone won’t really make you a better match than the majority of other applicants.

Since OP made a new thread, I’m closing this one.

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