Understanding the boarding school application process is important, no matter what school you decide to attend.
The Application Process has a lot of moving parts. There’s a lot to take in, process and organize, especially if you’re applying to more than one boarding school. Below is an outline of steps to help you complete all parts of the process thoroughly and on time.
Build Your Application Foundation
Start by gathering all of the deadlines for each school you wish to apply to. Most school websites list all deadline information. If not, the school will have their own application checklist included with the school catalog and application materials. This checklist will include all deadlines. Generally, schools encourage students to complete the entire admissions process by the first of February, but many schools have their own timetable. Be sure to double check each school’s admission timeline in their published materials.
Many schools have rolling admission, meaning that students can apply throughout the year and the admission office will inform you of the decision shortly after you submit your complete application.
A few boarding schools now offer early admission. Applying through an early admission program often requires your completed application by about the end of November and a commitment to attend the school if accepted. Make sure that you know the terms and guidelines if you apply under early admission terms.
Contact the admissions office of each school on your list to request the admissions/application packet. There are several ways to do this. School contact information is on every school profile page on our website and on the admissions page of each school’s website. You can also call or email the school’s admissions office directly.
The admissions packet often includes a printed school catalog, a student application, a writing sample form, teacher recommendation forms, and an academic transcript release form.
TIP: If you are ready to apply, make sure you request the complete packet, not just the school catalog.
Most schools require an online application. Some schools use the SAO – Standard Application Online, while others require the Gateway to Prep Application. Check with each school to see which application they accept.
There are often educational tests required by the school prior to admission. In addition to SSAT, ISEE, and TOEFL, schools may also want to see any standardized achievement tests used by your current school. For more on testing and test prep, check out the Testing Process page.
Schedule an Interview
An on-campus interview is one of the most important parts of the application process. While local or regional information gatherings are helpful, most schools place a great deal of importance on the quality of the interview. Schedule an interview and school visit for each school on your list the same way you requested an Admission/Application Packet.
TIP #1: Most boarding schools require an on-campus admissions interview, but if you live a great distance from a school, many schools will help arrange an interview with a local or regional admissions representative, often an alum of the school.
Tip #2: Don’t schedule multiple interviews in a single day. We advise students to schedule only one interview a day. Take your time. Enjoy your visit. See all there is to see. It is important.
For more information on how to ace your interview, check out our 7 Tips for a Better Boarding School Interview.
Submit Your Applications
Use the application checklist from each school to make sure you have submitted all parts of your applications. Most schools will include an application checklist with their application materials. Check, and then double check everything is complete and submitted.
Ongoing Communication & Notifications
Find out who is handling your application in case you have any follow up questions. Usually there is one admissions officer in a school admissions office who will evaluate the student’s candidacy. It is appropriate to send a “Thank You Note” to your interviewer but do not badger the admissions office. It will not help your application.
Gather the admission notification dates for each school on your list. Unless you have applied for rolling or early admission, most schools will notify you on or around April 10. Students who have been offered admission are generally given 30 days before a decision and a deposit is required. Once again, be sure to consult each school for variation in the notification Process.
In general, admissions committees will render one of four decisions on the application:
Admit: You are accepted!
Defer: The school is still interested in admitting you, but probably has some concerns about grades. They may want to see another set of grades before they make their final decision. Call the school to clarify status.
Waitlist: They really want to admit you, but don’t have a room just yet. Most schools create a waitlist of qualified candidates in case a student who was enrolled decides not to attend at the last minute. In this event, the students at the top of the waitlist are offered admission. Call the school to clarify your status and get an understanding of their timeline.
Denied: The school has decided not to admit you. It’s the not decision you hoped for, but if you don’t get admitted to a particular school, there are likely other opportunities that will work out well.
For more application information be sure to enter your email address above and download the eBook, Mastering the Admissions Process.