Thursday, February 14, 2008

Applying to Boarding School

Yesterday a high school classmate of mine called to tell me that her daughter had had been accepted to boarding school in the USA. When my son considered applying to boarding school some years ago, I had no idea what the process involved and I contacted friends, consultants, discussion forums and boarders themselves to educate myself about the process and the advantages/disadvantages of boarding school itself.

One surprising fact I discovered was the sheer volume of boarding schools throughout the United States. There seem to be hundreds. Therefore it is important to know what you and your child are looking for in choosing a school. lists a wide range of schools of various categories including single sex, coed, military and so on. Another source of information is the TABS website. The Association of Boarding Schools has a membership of approximately 300 boarding schools comprising schools not only in the US but also Canada, England, Switzerland and even Jordan.

Most of the schools will have a website from which you can source more information and contact admission personnel who can answer your questions directly. The schools are usually very willing to send catalogues and other instructive materials. One important question you should ask is about their application requirements, especially testing such as the Secondary School Admission Test (SSAT) or the Independent School Entrance Examination (ISEE) . Both tests are approximately 3 hours long so preparation is necessary. Order or download the study guides available from these sites. Also has reviews of several prep books for these tests. If your child is going to sit the exam he must be familiar with the types of questions he is likely to face. It is important too that he develops test taking strategies as they pertain to time management and question choices or even question omission as points are deducted in these tests for wrong answers. If you can afford it, get a reputable tutor to guide your child with the practice tests.

Of course, the outcome of the standardized test is not the only basis for admission to these schools. Therefore please do not harangue your child if he did not score in the 99th percentile. The selection process is not predicated solely on academics and the result is definitely unpredictable.

The following are all taken into consideration:

  1. The application itself,
  2. The school transcript,
  3. Recommendations from certain teachers,
  4. Feedback from interviews conducted (sometimes these are done via telephone)
  5. Test scores

In other words the test is but one element to be considered and believe it or not, there will be cases where a child who scores in the 99th percentile, is not admitted. It is important that your child be himself in his application and let the school admission officers get a genuine feel of who he is and why they should want him to be a part of their school.

Discussion forums like were very helpful in contributing to my understanding of the experiences of applicants, successful and unsuccessful alike. Many participants there highlight the importance of visiting schools to determine their suitability. For international students this may not be an option, but interestingly many schools actually invite successful international applicants to visit before they indicate their acceptance. Yes, many of these schools are well endowed and they pay travel and other expenses for this purpose as they are keen to ensure that their school population is diverse.

This brings me to a final word on tests. Remember if you are a foreigner and English is not your first language then the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) will be required.

The question of cost of attendance to these schools is itself a biggie and of course a major topic by itself. All I will say here is that many of the schools do offer financial aid and their policies in this regard are best determined by contacting the schools.


Kiara said...

In recent time many students and even parents wants that their child should get admitted to the foreign boarding schools. But unfortunately they know very little about the over all process of admission.
here you have quoted the web site link that lists the wide range schools which may also have the processes that parents and child should have to posses. These info will surely help many of the readers to get forward in this particular area. thanks,..

Kiara said...

In this current era This is the common feature among many of the Students and their parents to opt for boarding schools. But many of them does not know exactly how to apply or what is the exactly process for this.
Here you have share your experience. This will be very helpful for those parents as well as students to opt for boarding school.