Here are your chances for boarding schools

Here are your chances to get into a GLADCHEMMS:

  1. Start with last year’s acceptance rate.

  2. Lower it slightly for this year because the rates seem to drop pretty much every year as more people find their way into the BS world, or try to. Gateway and SAO make that easy. Covid may very well accelerate the trend.

  3. Lower it slightly if you need Financial Aid. Raise it slightly if you do not.

  4. Raise it slightly if you are an Under Represented Minority. Lower it slightly if you are an ORM.

  5. Raise it slightly if you are a legacy.

  6. Raise it slightly if you are a competitive athlete or artist who can make an impact at the varsity level your first year (and there’s an opening on the team, orchestra, etc).

  7. Raise it if your family is going to put their name on a building some day (or already has).

  8. Lower it if your scores and grades are meaningfully below the school average. I’m not talking 5-10 percentile points on the SSAT here. I’m talking about a lot more than that.

  9. Do not raise it if your grades and scores are at or above the school average. Re-read this (sorry!)

  10. Raise it if you’re genuinely nice and come across as such. Lower it if you’re not.

  11. Raise it if you’re genuinely interested and interesting, and come across as such. Lower it if you’re not. Lower it even more if it’s clear that BS is your parents’ idea and not yours.

  12. Raise it if you’ve done something truly remarkable (large or small) and can demonstrate how the intrinsic motivation to do that can be brought to bear on the BS community.

Add it all up and you get…more or less last year’s acceptance rate.

I’m being snarky but not un-serious here. Kids/parents: the acceptance rates for these schools are between 11% and 19% (not dissimilar from many other BS btw). Really try to take a moment to digest this data. 11 - 19%! 81% - 89% of applicants do not get in. 81 - 89%!

We get it - you’ve always been at/near the top of your class. You’ve coasted through middle school to all A+'s. You play lots of sports, some of them pretty well! Same with a musical instrument or 3. You’re conversational in Mandarin and learning Spanish on the side. Your SSAT percentile is very high. Maybe you built a successful app, or have a million followers on your YT channel, or build housing for the homeless. All of that stuff is great (really!) but is a guarantee of nothing when it comes to BS chances.

The point is that the 11% - 19% who get in are not (generally) possessed of grades, scores, ECs, recommendations, etc. which are meaningfully better or all that different than those of many of the 81% - 89% who do not get in. Every single year these schools could probably fill their incoming classes 2 - 3 times over with kids who are more or less equally qualified. The school AOs thread a very fine needle in building their classes each year.

This is precisely why the conventional wisdom on CC is to broaden your list if you really want to go to BS. And no, adding Groton on top of Andover and Exeter is not broadening your list. Add schools which are less selective for entry but nonetheless a great fit for you. BTW these schools (sometimes referred to around here as Hidden Gems) are also academically excellent!

Parents who are far more experienced and longer-tenured around here can confirm that every year on M10 there are kids left with no BS options, in many cases because their lists were (way) too narrow. Unless your LPS or LDS is a good Plan B, don’t be one of those kids/families. You’re a great kid - you can do this!

TL;DR answer to the question about your chances is always: broaden your list.


I love this post!! And agree with every word.

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It is indeed a very “slight” increase of chances. I was wondering how “slightly” it is for the advantage of FP vs FA. For one need-aware top school I researched, last year the ratio of FA applicants over all applicants is about the same as the FA students ratio in that school, which means as a whole FP students do not really have advantages for this school in admission.

What is “GLADCHEMMS?” Sorry, I’m not familiar with prep schools.

@PikachuRocks15 - An acronym for the arguably most prestigious prep schools. I believe I have the correct ones listed below… :smile:
Milton (edit to add… sorry, Milton)
St. Paul’s

Thanks @DramaMama2021 !

@ahala2000 yes nothing absolute or especially rigorous about my analysis :slight_smile:

@DramaMama2021 you’re exactly right with the list

@PikachuRocks15 I chose those because they’re the ones seemingly most often asked about in this sub.

Are South Asian Muslims considered under represented.
Also, I happen to be a very unique case. I happen to be 13, soon to be 14, going into sophomore year (I hope to apply for 2022-2023). Will the age factor help me, or is it neutral in the eyes of a boarding school admissions officer.


It won’t help. It will be neutral at best, and could be a negative at some schools.

Well then, my odds are next to nothing, thanks for your help though.