Friday, July 24, 2009

The Application

2. Grades (25%) and Extracurriculars (20%)

While having an "A" in every class is helpful, it is definitely not required; however, one should maintain an "A" overall. It should be a 92/93 at least, and one should be mostly in, if not in all, advanced classes. SSAT's (10%) are not nearly as important as your school grades, so keep this in mind during the year. Remember also that your grades tie in directly to your recommendation. That information is the most obvious of all.
More importantly, one should be the most well-rounded as possible. Try to find some community service options in your area, be it working at an animal shelter or volunteering at the local food bank. Develop a couple of academic activities as well, such as Model UN, Debate, Mock Trial, or Math Team. These usually stand out most because they are more individualistic as a result of their lower participation rate. If your school does not offer these, try to find your niche in the arts by participating in your school's play or submitting to the literary magazine. As expected, have at least one competitive athletic sport.

3. Interview (20%)

The interview and the essay are, arguably, the most important part of your application. If your interview is successful, it will add another 20% to your chances of getting in, but if it fails, it could take away all of your chances. The interview is your sole chance for the interviewer to experience you in the fullest and you should dominate the conversation to maximize on this time. When they ask you a question, don't stick to the narrow answer it at first allows. Instead, tie in life experiences that you find meaningful in addition to the base on which you start.
For example, "What do you like most about our school?" "I quite like the colonial architecture, which reminds me of my school trip to the Northeast during which we compared British architecture of the 1800's to that of New England's and the changes that occurred due to lack of materials and desire to change from the motherland." This way, you include information that adds depth to your intellectual appearance instead of giving a generic answer like other applicants along the lines of, "I like the school's academic rigor," because that shows so little about you as an individual compared to the other answer. Also, when you ask questions, make sure they're not ones that could easily be answered by the school website. To avoid this, prepare questions beforehand. Always remember, a firm handshake, eye contact, confidence in speaking, and the absence of "um" from your answers will just add to your appearance.

4. Essay (25%)

The essay is similar to the interview except that you have an opportunity to show your capabilities with the English language. Brainstorm about a few ideas beforehand, write an introductory paragraph for each, then choose one and expand. Remember, eloquence is key, as is a grammar check afterwards.
Turn the table on the norm in your essay. An example, "If you could meet anyone from the past, who would it be?" Instead of giving an obvious answer such as, "Jesus, Lincoln, Washington, or Confucius," consider such options as Nixon or Wang Mang and explore the reason this meeting could be beneficial. Spin a negative person, such as Nixon, in a positive light.

The Top Boarding Schools

1. Top Boarding Schools

Group One:

Group Two:

Other Schools of Interest:

Middlesex School
Taft School
Cranbrook School (MI)
Kent School
Blair Academy
The Governor's Academy
Northfield Mount Hermon
The Loomis Chaffee School
The Hockaday School (TX)
St. Andrew's School (DE)
St. John's School (TX)
St. Marks School

A Website with Helpful Information Concerning Each:

Looking Back: Applications

My Entry into the Boarding School World

I started my application process quite near the deadline. A pile of inquiry booklets lay before me, none of which I ended up reading, to schools about which I very little other than their reputation. I was applying out of necessity and, at the time, I felt my chances at acceptance to schools of such prestige were minimal. I thought of them as places only for those who had won innumerable international awards in academia and athletic competitions and had debated with world leaders on modern issues with which our various nations are confronted. After all, I had only heard a few comments about them, each concerning their grandeur and place at the top of the secondary school pedestal. Presidents had gone to one, Nobel Prize Winners to another. These were the nations top schools. One even took up an expansive amount of text real estate in a major US newspaper.
"Why," I thought, "should a high school have such recognition?"

The answer came simply, "They are places for the children of gods." I had no faith in my intelligence and ability to thrive in an academic environment and I cannot help now but to chortle at the analysis I developed about my chances of admittance based simply on offhand comments by unaccredited sources (and I cannot help to use that word without sounding elitist). Throughout the year I continued to deceive myself, often proclaiming to my mother that I would never get in. I'm sure others believe that their chances of gaining an acceptance and later garnering a diploma to be small, but don't let the prodigious names or low acceptance rates fool you. Looking back I can give the applicants of 2010 some useful information about how to maximize their abilities and capitalize on their experiences.