MA Prep School Question

Hi - my son is looking into local prep / Catholic schools. He is an A/B student in a good school district, but feels weak academically compared to other kids he knows who are applying to similar schools. Can folks give a general rank to these in regards to acad rigors? Hes a good athlete and wants a chance to compete in the ISL or Catholic Conf. Thx!

Belmont Hill
St Sebs

St Johns Prep

Will he be recruited as an athlete/contribute to varsity-level? If so that can hugely help admissions chances at any of these schools.

I do not have a sporty kid, but am from metro Boston, as well. Below is all really my perception, I only actively looked at 2 of those schools closely for my family and I know some people who have kids at a couple of others.

My perception: BBN, Nobles and BH seem like the most selective of that bunch. Kids I know at BCHS are not academic powerhouses (though bright enough kids) so from what I have seen an A/B student seems a very reasonable candidate. (I never looked there for my own child).

I would think Rivers and LA (assuming Lawrence academy) are somewhere in middle. Rivers also has a very strong music program so my perception is it has less “sports-only” culture which may be nice, or a put-off.

I know nothing about St. Sebs/St. Johns/CM.

You probably know this but Austin Prep joined ISL last year and it may fit on this list, too?

Anyway that is all mainly best on perception/rumors and not hard data:)

Austin Prep joined the NEPSAC, not ISL.


BC High, SJP and CM will be the least competitive for admission. Should be no problem for an A/B student. Belmont Hill, Nobles and St Sebs will be most competitive. The rest in between. The Catholic conference schools aren’t supposed to recruit for athletics as it is against MIAA rules (although they all do, they just don’t get caught), but the independent schools can and do. Since you mentioned SJP, are you considering Pingree?

drat! You are right, sorry for any confusion OP!

Worcester academy is NEPSAC, I think, but it seems like a great option for athletes. As your list is relatively long, I am guessing it was created for geography or sometime else that works for you. But tossing that out there.

My hunch is that your kid could probably handle the work, but does he want to? The athletic hook may get him access to the schools you think are out of reach, but you should also consider what kind of environmental would allow him to flourish.

I can only speak to BB&N as my son is a Junior there. He’s an athlete, though wasn’t recruited. We chose BB&N for three main reasons: 1) Academic rigor and opportunities, 2) Independence, and 3) Athletics.

In the time that he’s been there, I think the thing that differentiates BB&N from some of the other schools is the freedom and independence that students have (many schools are rigorous and have good sports). There isn’t a lot of hand-holding and emails from school get sent once and kids (and parents) need to be responsible. If a student is struggling, they need to reach out, but there is plenty of help available. They also have physical freedom - Harvard Square is a short walk away and many students arrive via public transportation. No dress code. BB&N is also notably more diverse than some of the other schools, both racially and economically.

Since you specifically asked about academic rigor, it’s tough but doable. My son came from public middle school which had very little homework, so this has been an adjustment. He reports to me that he has more homework than his friends at BH and Sebs. Not sure if that’s because he’s taking more challenging courses though (those friends were recruited athletes and aren’t taking any honors classes).

Hope this helps!

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