How do grades factor into your application?

Hi! I’m an incoming eigth grader, applying to the 2022-2023 school year for Andover, Exeter, and Groton.

My grades haven’t been doing all too well in during the past two years, so I wanted to ask for your opinion.

6th grade: You can see my grades decline a bit as COVID-19 rolls in between the 3rd-4th marking period and the school turns virtual. I can’t access my grades now, but I can say that my final grades did include maybe 2/3 Bs. Everything else was in the ‘A’ range, though.

There is one thing about Spanish, however- I got an F in the final marking period (don’t know how I did that…?), but that didn’t affect my grade as the teacher converted that into a P (pass).

7th grade: My grades did improve a bit with the exception of Language Arts and Spanish. I believe I got As in pretty much everything with the exception of Language Arts, which was a B+.

Keep in mind that I’m talking about the final grades, however, and the individual marking periods may include 2/1 B(s). I recall that the only marking period without any Bs at all was MP4.

To add some extra information, I do expect my SSAT to be in 96-99% range, as I am taking prep courses and the last SSAT I took (in the middle of May) resulted in a 96%.

I am an Asian (Korean-Chinese) female, and I live in northern New Jersey. FA is not required.

I am a pretty accomplished artist, and my portfolio is coming out okay- I do believe that I can benefit this department of each school.

(Please keep in mind that the reason I am only applying to these three schools is because prep schools are expensive, and the public high school in my town is highly rated as well.)

This is a very risky move, especially with the three you have selected. If you really want to go to boarding school and have that experience you should widen your list. I speak as one of the very lucky ones. My DD applied to only 3 because we had no idea what we were doing and had never considered BS an option. As the process went on she became more and more invested and REALLY wanted to get in. By the time we found this board and realized our mistake in only applying to 3, it was too late to add more. In the end she was rejected from 2 on your list, and accepted to a 3rd equally rated one. You will find that most on here apply to about 10. And most who only apply to 3 end up with no acceptances.


I agrée with @AnonMomof2. I originally was going to apply to Andover, Exeter, and Lawrenceville. I ended up applying to 11. I got into 4. I got rejected from Andover and Exeter and waitlisted from Lawrenceville. I am so glad I applied to a lot of schools because I had options. Most BS commonly mentioned on this site are just as good as the ones you listed. Some are better for certain kids. I think you should apply to more schools. A boarding school education is something you can’t get anywhere else. It’s an experience you won’t forget. If you want, I can PM you with advice, study stuff, etc. You can check out my other posts for my stats and the schools I applied to, or just ask me directly! I’m here to help, and good luck!

Playing devil’s advocate, applying to 3 schools is fine when there is a top local option. If OP will be happy at the local school, and it will meet her needs, no need to apply to a dozen. Data point I’d one, I applied to only 2 for precisely that reason. Had I been rejected, I would have been perfectly content with my local school.

Back to the OP. Grades are important - probably the most important piece. You may have extenuating circumstances, but so did many others.

Agree that grades are important, they are just one piece of the puzzle, but the puzzle is best when there isn’t a piece missing. And going back to the 3 on your list, you can expect everyone who gets in to have no missing pieces. I stand by widen your net. You may think now that your perfectly good lps is a fine backup. My daughter did, my son will be going there. It’s a great school. However, you may find as you apply, write essays, interview, visit and get to know these boarding schools that your safe option doesn’t seem so great anymore.

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Tbh it really depends. If you’re coming from a school that’s known to be incredibly challenging, then they know that your grades probably won’t be as high as a student from a school with heavy grade inflation (many schools)

DD and I had the same thoughts as you. As long as you will be happy staying at local high school, your strategy is fine. And as a parent paying $$$, I totally get it.

On the other hand, you will need to consider the downside of attending one of the three schools. Your chance of getting into a top university will likely be lower compared with your lps unless you stay in the top of your class at the bs. For most, it’s the harder way to get into your dream college.

I’d say your gpa is fine. You have enough time to work on recommendations and essays, unlike me and DD. Competition will be tough but you can make a strong case for yourself.

One suggestion is to talk to your parents so you will be on the same page about this.

Ski, you are very wise for your years, but I guess I have to ask, if the local option is so good, why bother at all applying to 3 schools? Especially in light of the resultant 10-20% chance of admission success?

Are we applying to “boarding schools”, or “prestigious private schools”? It would seem the latter, with so many distinctive differences between Groton and PA/PEA.

If “boarding school” is actually the goal, highly suggest applying to more than just these 3.


I shared my journey elsewhere, but for me, the local option was great through 10th grade, maybe 11th, but then I would have had to find alternatives. So if I was rejected for 9th grade, I would have cast a wider net fir 10th.

But your questions are valid for the OP.

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Adding onto @UltimaCroix, you should ask yourself what you want from boarding school. Even if your lps is good, there are still major differences. Even if you went to a school like Trinity, most BS will offer much more for you.

Then, if you realize that boarding school is the better option, I highly urge you to cast a much wider net. 9 out of 10 students get rejected from those schools, and many of those applicants have higher grades than you.

I will assume you want honesty. As an Asian-American female from New Jersey without a big athletic or musical hook, your grades should be stellar to have a decent chance of acceptance to the trio of schools you mentioned. Yours are not. If you want a realistic chance of acceptance by an excellent boarding school, widen your net.


I am a little confused as to why you picked those three. Groton is pretty different from Andover/Exeter. I suppose they are similar prestige wise but that might be the biggest similarity.


Hi! How much your grades matter really depends on your extra-curriculars? Do you play any sports or instruments? Any clubs at school or summer programs? And how good is your portfolio? With a good range of activities and one that you are really focused on, that would improve your chances by a lot.
I would suggest finding a tutor to guide you through the application process!

Grades are used to assess whether you are likely to be able to do the work. If the answer is no, no amount of athletic prowess, legacy, etc will matter. If the answer is yes, and you aren’t in the pool of students likely to win some kind of high level award (AIME, etc.) that really differentiates you, they won’t matter beyond helping you “make the cut”.

Think of grades and scores as thresholds you need to meet to be a qualified applicant. They won’t be what gets you admitted. Yours look fine.

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Applying only three could be a sound decision, if one has good local option and mainly cares about better academics, rather than the boarding experience. Actually for me the latter was a concern rather than a reason for applying.

I would rank the determine factors(either positive or negative) in your case by orders as: Asian Female > NJ > Art and other extracurriculars( only if they are good enough) > past curriculum content/school > grade > SSAT > essays > interview.

The reason for the first two or three is that they decide in which bucket of candidates pool you are compete with. Since you did not mention anything spiky or as hooks, this bucket classification become crucial for the final outputs.

What the ----?

This is, at best, gibberish.


Hi, thanks to all the people who responded to my post. To answer some questions, I’m applying to Groton because a HS admissions counselor recommended it to me. Because I live in NJ, however, I’m considering switching it out with L’ville.

For the “why only apply to 3?” question, yes, though my local option probably cannot even compete with lesser known boarding schools, my parents are not willing to send me anywhere if the school isn’t in the same league as Andover/Exeter/if the HS admissions counselor didn’t recommend it. They are not willing to do any research, and I would rather just listen to what they say than go get into another argument.

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It’s unfortunate when low-information parents advise their kids on education matters without even the most basic facts.


So right! My DD applied to 3. Andover and Exeter were two of them. If we had started the process earlier, found this forum, I doubt she would have even applied to those 2. Luckily she was accepted to the third she applied to and it seems like it will be a great fit. It seems the poster’s parents are only concerned about name recognition and not fit.


Maybe just send your parents a link to this forum and the threads on chances and hidden gems…

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