Is it easier to transfer into a private school in sophomore year/retake ninth grade?

Last year, I applied to Phillips Andover, Exeter, and the Groton school, and this spring I was waitlisted by all three. I’m currently still on the waitlist, but I don’t see a lot of hope of getting admitted at this point. This year, I am considering applying again to transfer, and I was wondering if my chances of getting in have increased or decreased. I would appreciate any feedback or advice about transferring anyone has.

Good for you for being persistent.

From a pure #'s standpoint, obviously they admit more 9th graders than 10th graders, though I don’t know if they publish the relative admit rates. Also, presumably your SSAT %ile will climb when the score is scaled to an 8th grader taking the test (i.e. if you apply to repeat 9th grade).

Regardless, I would say that the bigger determination will come from you. What about you has changed, grown, improved, from the prior time you applied? Were you elected captain of a team, elevated from JV to Varsity, did you reach first chair trumpet, did you raise $100k for the homeless, write a successful app, cure Covid, win the lottery…something?

Note too that these schools - at least in the parents section - do ask whether you’re repeating a grade and if so, why? Something to ponder.

MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL: I’d also encourage you to broaden your list! Not only are those 3 not the only BS on earth (by far!) they are - at least in terms of size - extraordinarily different from one another! Look past the haze of prestige and think about the BS experience holistically. What do you want out of it? Why? I guarantee you there are 20 or more schools that can give them to you. Prowl the many “chance me” and similar threads for great advice on this from many very experienced parents and students…

Good luck!

While I can’t give you a definitive “yes” or “no”, I will write this: It was a surprise to our family (non-boarding school history and not from NE) how many students we met during the application process who were repeating grade 9 or 10. At Groton, for example, our tour guide was Sophomore who had repeated 9th grade at that school. We know at least 10 students who repeated 9th grade. It was interesting to see that some kids also repeat a year in JBS. I believe that there are more “repeats” than you realize - maybe because some kids repeat grades before high school. I also see this in sports - some kids repeat for specific sports or to develop. Not judging, just saying. So, I do think that in some ways it is a plus.

A lot of people from my school who don’t get into Exeter reapply after a year, and most of them do get in.

I think that schools are generally happy to see kids apply again and often, if they have used the year well and can reflect that in their application, have better results.

I also agree that you should expand your list.

As for whether to repeat a year or not, it really depends. There are kids we ho are not admitted because they may have seemed young (which isn’t hard given the repeat profile mentioned above by @Golfgr8 ). If that was the case, yes, apply again for 9th. If you needed a year to get more disciplined about your work, get better at s sport, get caught up academically because your current school isn’t amazing, applying for 9th could help.

While more kids are admitted in 9th, more apply, so it’s not always best to assume that it’s the easiest route. Then again, most JBS kids come in at 10th and are generally well-directed in their applications.

Personally, I would have the conversation with the AO during your interview and explain that you are open to doing either 9th or 10th and ask what they recommend. It is a tough, and personal, call. Whatever you choose will have to feel right to you.