It is not the unheard-of fact that getting into boarding schools is tough. Everyone knows some variation of the criteria required to get into the top boarding schools. But who better to tell the actual truth than the students who applied and got accepted into the top boarding schools. Ifeoma White-Thorpe, Martin Altenburg, Sarah Cameron, and Jude Okonkwo are all brilliant students that managed to get into the top 8 Ivy League schools. So when asked the question, “What do boarding schools look for as they review the applications of students?”, the prompt answer was, “Everything”.
The more things you manage to check off from the criteria list of the admission officers, the better for you. To prepare early for getting into a boarding school, alumni students recommend you start mentally and academically preparing yourself after starting 6th grade. Most students have their eyes set on schools like Andover or Exeter, which are both brilliant schools when it comes to academics, but tough cookies to crack when it comes to getting your admission application accepted. These schools are renowned for having an acceptance rate of 14%.
While this may discourage you initially, it provides you all the more reason to start preparing yourself so you can crack that low acceptance rate. When applying for competitive boarding schools, alumni students advise other students to get a full makeover that transcends past their grades. This means your personality, community service, extracurriculars, athletics, etc. To start your prep early on, learning about the criteria of getting your admission accepted as recollected by students who got accepted into the top boarding schools can help you create a mental guideline of all the milestones you need to cross.
The first thing you need to fortify in your mind is that it’s just your grades that will get you into the boarding school of your dreams. While academics play a major part in getting the AOs to consider your application for acceptance, there are other aspects that make your application stand out. Let’s review the “fitness criteria ” of most top boarding schools in the U.S., as recollected by alumni students:
While grades aren’t all there is to it, it is still an important aspect to review. Students Sarah Cameron and Jude Okonkwo recollect that the most time they spent on prepping was their academic prowess. These students recall that the reason the admissions officers ask for exceptional grades is to determine whether the applicant can cope with the academic work on their curricula. Admission officers look for students who can advance at the same pace as their classes. In order to do so, they carefully review the student’s academic transcripts. These staff also play a direct role in reaching out to the previous school of the student to understand their respective curriculum and then compare it with theirs.
This is why alumni students advise you to ask for teacher recommendations to help the AOs understand your learning potential. There are two standardized entrance tests accepted by most boarding schools: the SSAT and the ISEE. A strong score on the standardized test will confirm your ability to handle schoolwork. Boarding schools have their own admissions requirements. Therefore, test scores, transcripts, and recommendations accepted at one school may be viewed very differently at another school.
The students describe the educational experience of their respective boarding schools to be extremely saturated as compared to public schools. The classes typically contain 12-15 students, which allows the teachers to focus on the students better and are able to cover more advanced material at a quick pace.
Alumni students also worked hard on becoming adaptable and being open about their accomplishments in order to get their applications accepted. They describe the biggest thing AOs look for in students during the admission interview is having a well-rounded personality. It is also important that you document your participation in extracurricular activities, clubs, traveling experiences, competitions, community service, etc.
While you can always say you always strive to make an effort to contribute to society, your documentation and certificates of participation will back up your claims to the AOs. If you have trouble talking to people you are trying to impress, ask your counselors or teachers to hold a pseudo interview and go over some interview questions with them. This is a practice some alumni students with social anxiety found to work well when they were prepping for the interview part of their admission.
When it comes to meeting the special considerations of the AO’s staff, they proactively look for how you can and have contributed to ensuring a diverse atmosphere in your learning sphere. A lot of boarding schools have racial and socioeconomic objectives when it comes to considering admissions.
If you have previous experience in promoting or raising awareness about an equal learning atmosphere and have ideas on how to further support this goal, remember to express them while talking to the AOs. This plays an important goal in getting your application to appear more attractive. You can also listen to the Dean of Admissions of the Phillips Academy Andover to understand their diversity goals.
While it is important you meet the criteria of the boarding schools you are applying for, it is also important to determine if they do the same for your special requirements if you have any. In general, boarding schools offer a wide array of activities that can satisfy most students’ needs. Most boarding schools comply with the provisions of the Americans With Disabilities Act for students with disabilities that are properly documented.
Each school determines whether it is capable of accommodating an applicant’s specific needs and requirements. If you have any concerns regarding this topic, please do not hesitate to ask or express them. Alumni students often describe their experience of reaching and expressing their special needs to their schools and getting a positive and accommodating response. It is important to ensure that your happiness at her new school should take precedence over any other consideration.
As described by alumni students, admissions staff typically look for personal characteristics and achievements that distinguish applicants from the rest. Whether it’s winning a regional or national spelling bee, designing an app, or demonstrating leadership in a certain circumstance- the examples are unending.
During your visit to the various schools on your shortlist, don’t forget to mention your accomplishments or attributes to express that you have what it takes to make a difference when opportunity prevails. Students describe showing off their achievements while remaining eager to learn more as the best tactic to impress the AOs.
Studying the recollections of the brilliant students who got accepted into the top boarding schools certainly helps paint a picture of what you should focus on when preparing for the “fitness criteria” of getting accepted into the boarding school of your dreams. In the end, these students give one last piece of advice; to not just make an effort, but make your efforts count by setting the milestones you need to accomplish by studying the criteria of acceptance to your school and prepping accordingly.