Questions from someone just starting their boarding school search?

<p>I'm in 7th grade and I want to apply to a boarding school for 9th. I have some questions and I hope you guys could help me. I am a straight A student in all AP classes. I'm looking for a medium - to large size boarding school with good academic and athletic programs. Here is my current list of schools that I'm considering: </p>

<p>Phillips Exeter Academy
Phillips Academy Andover
Deerfield Academy
Lawrenceville School
Mercersburg Academy
The Hill School
Kent School
Western Reserve Academy
Westtown School</p>

<p>My Questions are:</p>

<p>What schools offer the best financial aid? I'm going to need either full financial aid or almost full financial aid.
I won't be able to visit many of boarding schools, so I was wondering if doing alumni interviews, or interviews over the phone or on Skype hurt my chances?
I'm not currently doing a lot of extracurricular activities (there isn't a lot of opportunities), but I am restarting swimming, and about to start fencing and some volunteer work. So my question is: will the schools care that I haven't been doing extracurriculars for a while?
Which schools on my list have the most rigorous academics?
Which schools have the best campuses?
Are there certain schools that have a lot of snobby and stuck up people?
Would having a chronic disease affect my chances of getting in?
Which of the schools have the best social life?
Which of them are the least strict?
Are there schools on my list that are far away from the rest of society?
When should I start studying for SSATs?
I read a post that said that I should take the SSATs in June to see how well I would do. Is that true?
Is Western Reserve a good school?
I heard that some of these schools (Kent, for example) have a lot of drug use going on. Is that true?
What schools don't have a lights out policy?
How religious is Westtown and Kent? </p>

<p>And last but certainly not least,
What other schools should I look into?</p>

<p>I know that is a lot of questions, and I'll probably think of some more soon. Any help would be greatly appreciated.</p>

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I read a post that said that I should take the SSATs in June to see how well I would do. Is that true?

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<p>Yes - absolutely! The application process is a two-way street. It's not enough to know which schools are right for you - you also need to know which schools you are qualified to be admitted to. If you had the money to hire a consultant, they would help you select your list of schools after looking at your SSAT scores.</p>

<p>The school application process is quite time-consuming. You want to focus your energy on schools you can get into. Of the schools on your list, a few of them accept a standard application. (You can find the list of schools that accept the most commonly used standard application here</a>.) But many of them do not. For Exeter, Andover, Deerfield, Westtown (and perhaps others), you're going to have to write individual, customized applications. That's a lot of work!</p>

<p>If you possibly can, try to limit your list to no more than three or four schools that require individual applications, and then add as many as you want that accept the common application. You'll still have to do interviews for all of them, but the essay writing will be easier. (Application fees, by the way, can be waived for financial aid applicants, as can both both testing fees and the fee for the NAIS/SSS financial statement that's required for financial aid candidates. Contact the individual schools to get the waivers you need.)</p>

<p>For information about the schools, go to Boarding</a> School Review. Make it your bedtime reading for the next few months!</p>

<p>For individual schools, you can also use the advanced</a> search mechanism on this forum. Do a "keyword" search for the name of the school and search "titles only," not "entire posts." Make sure to limit your search to the admissions sub-forum only (and exclude the "chances" sub-forum!), and then, at the bottom, click on "Show results as threads," not "posts." </p>

<p>Financial aid is a "Catch-22" - the biggest schools have the most money, but they're also the hardest to get into. In the end, the best thing you can do is apply to a broad range of schools. Sometimes the smallest schools will offer the most generous financial aid packages. Of the schools on your list, I've heard reports of both Kent and Mercersburg being extremely generous.</p>

<p>You might want to consider adding Culver</a> Academies to your list. Large school, extraordinary facilities, somewhat higher acceptance rate, and very generous financial aid budget. They also offer merit scholarships, which many schools don't. Take a look and see what you think.</p>

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How religious is Westtown and Kent?

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<p>I actually had the very same concern. I found that both Westtown and nearby George School, as Quaker schools, were very open and welcoming of students who didn't share the schools' religious views. Both require students to take a religion class, but there are lots of choices, including world religions. Both also require community meeting attendance twice a week (the Quaker version of chapel), but there's no preaching. It's a time for personal reflection or sharing with the community.</p>

<p>Kent I'm not so sure about. My understanding is that students are required to attend religious services, although they're given a choice of which services to attend.</p>

<p>Skype and alumni interviews are fine - don't worry about it!</p>

<p>Good luck!</p>

<p>Westtown accepts the common SSAT app.</p>

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Westtown accepts the common SSAT app.

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<p>Oh good - my mistake!</p>

<p>If you are in 7th grade, look into the Caroline J Bradley scholarsip. You can only apply in 7h grade and it pays for 4 years of tuition in any high school you choose. It is also very good practice for the applications you will be sending next year. Many prep school admissions teams are readers for the Bradley, so it also puts you on their map. My C received personal invitations to apply to some HADES schools after the Bradley competition, but alas, did not win the Bradley scholarship.</p>