Applying to boarding schools is a long and tedious process. There are several steps that you can take to help your child be more successful with this process. Boarding schools will receive 1,000+ applications per year, admitting approximately 13%. With some preparation, you can help your child to be one of the lucky 13% accepted.
Things You Will NeedAccess to the internet for research.
There are many websites available that will give you information on the top boarding schools by location. If you are interested in a specific state, look up boarding schools within that state. First determine why your child wants to go to a boarding school. If it is for academics, research the school's SAT scores. This will show their performance in comparison to the national average and you can compare from school to school. If you are interested for specialized training, such as sports or music, research the instructors or coaches credentials. Limit your choices to 10-15 schools.
Once you have chosen your 10-15 schools, research the admissions process and timeline. Go to each school's website and print the admissions information along with the due dates. Make a spreadsheet including each school and the timeline for each point on the checklist. Start early.
As I stated before, boarding schools get thousands of applicants. What makes your child special? If it's because he/she is smart, so is every other applicant. Think about what your child does that is different than most. Here are some things that might set them apart: honors classes, national honors recognition, sports achievements, music achievements, art or dance, additional languages. If your child does not have something to set them self apart from the thousands of other applicants, start finding an area that they can concentrate on.
Boarding schools consider themselves as small communities. They are interested in applicants that will provide community service at their schools. Look for ways that your child can be a part of the community in which they live. Start volunteering time for a local charity or hospital. Find one or two areas of interest and provide weekly service.
All boarding schools will require your child to take the SSAT test. You can register for the test on the SSAT website. Check with each school to see the average SSAT scores of the current class. This will give you a target range for your child. Make sure that you purchase the study guide and spend a considerable amount of time studying for this test. The top schools will require a score from the mid-80% to 90%+ range. If your child does not score within the range of your choice schools, you will want them to retake the test.
The boarding schools will require recommendations from your current English and Mathematics instructors. Make sure that you allow ample time for your instructors to complete these recommendations. You should have additional recommendations from your coaches and specialized instructors. Your school will also be required to send in a recommendation, so make sure that you provide your school administrators with information on why you aspire to attend boarding school.
Not many middle school children like writing essays, nor are they competent writers at this age. If your middle school instructors are not requiring essays, please take the time to research and practice writing good quality essays. Each boarding school will require up to 3 essays per applicant. If you are applying to 10 schools, your child could be writing up to 30 essays!
In closing, make sure that you start early and provide quality information on time. This is a very stressful process, if you start thinking about these steps early, you can help your child's success.