Private School Admission
Is Private School Right for You?
Avalon Admission firmly believes that gaining admission to the best private schools can be life-changing. The key to a successful private school experience is identifying schools that fit your interests, values, goals, and expectations. Many private schools offer a deeply enriching academic experience with more high-level courses like AP (Advanced Placement) or other challenging curricula. Many private schools have vast resources and myriad traditions that create a strong sense of community and belonging. Extracurricular activities include music, art, theatre, dance, exploration, religion, student-run clubs, academic organizations, social events, and a wide variety of sports. Most private schools also offer smaller classes and open access to teachers. These factors are common differentiators between public and private schools. Further, guidance counselors at most private schools have smaller caseloads, which means more time to advise each student on school issues and college admission.
Applying to private school can be a challenging and time-consuming process. If you have already decided to apply, calling Avalon Admission can ensure that your journey is seamless and that your effort is rewarded. Avalon Admission provides families with concierge-level service across every aspect of the private school admission process, including choosing the right schools, writing parent and student essays, and preparing for visits and interviews.
See pricing below.
It is a fact that more families apply to the schools with the biggest names than to lesser-known schools. For example, Phillips Academy in Andover Massachusetts receives more than 2500 applications each year. From those, it admits about 350 students. St. Paul‘s school in Concord, New Hampshire, an all boarding school, receives 1400 applications per year and accepts about 150 students. The Groton School in Massachusetts receives around 1300 applications per year, and accepts approximately 12% of those. A successful admission campaign into an elite private school can be challenging, but there are multiple pathways to acceptance, from stellar academics to extraordinary talent and more. By working with the Avalon, you can ensure that your child’s case for admission will improve dramatically.
In most cases, all activities associated with the private school applications must be completed by the application deadline. These include: school tours, tests, interviews, essays, personal statements, and recommendations. Some school require graded paper and athletic portfolios and videos as well. In some cases, schools will allow you to send scores and recommendations after the deadline has passed. Avalon Admission helps families sort through each school’s requirements, and keeps you on track for a timely and effective submission of all applications.
Families who are applying apply to several private schools will be required to submit their applications using one, two or even all three of the application portals: Gateway to Prep Schools, Ravenna, and Standard Application Online (SAO). In addition, some schools use their own applications. Each application requires multiple essays, in many cases from both parents and students. Avalon helps both students and parents with essays, personal interviews, visits, recommendations, and everything else associated with private school applications. See below for details. We can also arrange test prep tutors for SSAT, ISEE, and TOEFL.
Frequently Asked Questions About Private School
Can going to a private school help with college matriculation?
In some cases, yes. Many private schools have strong relationships with colleges, thereby increasing the chances that your child can gain admission. Some even have strong relationships with top colleges such as Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Georgetown, MIT, Dartmouth, Cornell, Bates, Colby, Amherst, Williams, and UPenn. However, keep in mind that private schools vary from each other as much as colleges do. In other words, attending some private schools may help get you into a top-choice college, while attending others may not give you a significant advantage. No matter where you go to school, you must be a “big fish” if your ultimate goal is to get into a top-ranked college.
Are private schools better than public schools?
Everyone understands the advantages of attending private schools: smaller classes, rigorous curriculum, dedicated counselors and advisors, and in many cases, a pathway to elite colleges. However, not nearly as many people understand the pathway to private school admission. “Play your cards right and you have a chance to get into the big name schools such as Andover, Exeter, and Milton. Play your cards wrong and you will severely diminish or wipe out your chances altogether,” says Neil Chyten. “The big name schools don’t play games and they don’t take chances. You have to do and say the right things in your interview and on your application. And, you have to choose your schools wisely. Even more than with colleges, finding the right fit for your child is critically important. This is especially true with boarding schools.”
How can I improve my chance of private school admission?
If your goal is to get into a highly ranked private school, there are certain characteristics that you must possess. For example, you must be smart, driven, goal oriented, a good test taker, and a capable and mature interviewee. Otherwise, you must have an outstanding singular talent, such as being a great athlete, musician, or artist. Getting into top private schools is not unlike getting into top colleges. The fact is that highly valued individuals demonstrate a consistent set of values whether they are applying for college or private school. That is because, to a certain extent, top schools are seeking a consistent and predictable set of characteristics from their applicants, whether for college or for private school. Overall, they are seeking to establish an advantageous mix of talent while also creating a well-blended culture of high-achieving students who are high in energy and creativity and low in risk.
What are some things I should know about applying to private school?
Applying to private school has become every bit as competitive as applying to college. Therefore, knowing what private schools are looking for in candidates is a critically important part of the process. Read the six strategies in the link below.
For admissions officers, most school students look alike on paper. Many private school applicants have similarly impressive academic achievements and extracurricular activities. They tend to have strong grades, strong standardized test scores and a good overall academic profile. So why do some of these candidates have an edge and receive an acceptance letter when others, who have the same qualifications, do not? The answer is four-fold: your transcript, your application, your references, and your interview. Both your applications and your interview breathe life into the admissions officer’s perception of who you are. The difference, however, is that the interview makes you real. While your essays provide insights, your interview turns you into a unique living, breathing individual. The application and transcript show whether you have the academic ability to succeed at a school; the interview helps schools gauge the non-academic, intangible strengths that can add to the fabric of their campus. In other words, the interview showcases your personality and interpersonal strengths, both of which are important to your academic success. However, every student is unique, and, therefore, the interview is a great way for private school candidates to differentiate themselves from others. Avalon Admission provides significant interview training based on years of success helping students get into top private schools.
Frequently Asked Questions About Private the School Interview
How important are private school interviews?
Very important! The interview showcases your personality and interpersonal strengths, both of which are important to your academic success. For admissions officers, most school students look alike on paper. They tend to have strong grades, strong standardized test scores and a good overall academic profile. So why do some of these candidates have an edge and receive an acceptance letter when others, who have the same qualifications, do not? The answer is threefold: your transcript, your application, and your interview. Both your applications and your interview breathe life into the admissions officer’s perception of who you are. The difference, however, is that the interview makes you real. While the essay makes you seem more vibrant than you were when you were merely one folder of statistical data among many, the interview presents you as a unique, living breathing individual. The application and transcript show whether you have the academic ability to succeed at a school; the interview helps schools gauge the non-academic, intangible strengths that can add to the fabric of their campus as a whole.
What are some common private school interview questions?
- Tell me about yourself?
- What are some of your favorite hobbies or activities?
- How would your friends or family describe you?
- What are your favorite classes/least favorite classes?
- What extracurricular activities interest you most about our school?
- What do you consider to be your greatest strengths and weaknesses?
- What you like most about your current school?
- If you could change anything about your school, what would it be?
- Why are you interested in attending this school?
- What other schools are you applying to?
- What two or three accomplishments have given you the most satisfaction?
- Describe your most rewarding school experience.
- Tell me about your favorite summer activity.
- Tell me what you did this past summer.
- What major problem or challenge have you encountered and how did you deal with it?
- What are some books that you have read for pleasure over the past year?
- What are some your favorite books you read in school? What do you do for fun?
12 strategies for your private school interview
- Take note of aspects of the school that interest you during your school tour and bring them up during your interview.
- Keep your answers short, but informative. Share enough information with the interviewer so that your response may spark further conversation about the topic. Show interest in the question and respond with sincerity.
- Avoid revealing weaknesses. Stress the positives in your application. If asked about something that could be deemed a weakness, address this by focusing on the hard work and determination you may have put into it and your determination to improve. You want to convince them that you are a strong candidate for their institution, so be confident in all of your responses.
- Stay positive and upbeat throughout the interview. Even if you are asked a difficult question, be sure you do not get defensive or embarrassed. Your tone of your responses is as important as the words you speak.
- Listen, think, and reply. It is perfectly alright to take a moment to think for a moment prior to answering a question. Most interviewers prefer thoughtful answers to superficial responses. You could even buy yourself a few seconds by saying, "Hmmm, that's a good question."
- Pay close attention to each question you are asked and answer it directly and succinctly. Don’t avoid a question and don’t go beyond the question simply because you have certain bullet points you want to cover.
- Be aware of your facial expressions and body movements. Admissions officers are focused on you and they will take note of your non-verbal communication
- Be mature in your appearance and choose mature responses. Think of how and adult would answer the question and try to do the same. It is much better to focus on larger issues than on things that your interviewer will consider trivial or immature. For example, you could talk about pollution or climate change or increasing violence in the world.
- Be introspective and sincere. The interviewer is trying to get to know who you are and figure out how you might fit into the college culture.
- Be humble, polite, authentic, and mature. Talk about the things that interest you and the things that make you who you are.
- Have your questions for the interviewer ready in advance. Ask them two or three questions that demonstrate your interest in the school.
- Always send a thank email, or (even better) a handwritten letter, to your interviewer shortly after your interview.
Private school application essays are a critically important factor in the private school admission process. They are a vehicle for students to highlight their best qualities, accomplishments, and passions. Avalon Admission specializes in helping students construct essays that represent mature and admirable perspectives and thereby make them far more attractive candidates. Our familiarity with each school’s admissions characteristics allows students to pinpoint attributes most highly sought by the nation’s best private schools.
Frequently Asked Questions About Private School Essays
What do private schools look for in a student's application essays?
They want to see you! They want to get to know you. In doing so, they want to determine whether or not you are the right fit for their school. As such, there are right and wrong ways to respond to the prompts. Many prompts are consistent from school to school. For example, most schools ask, “Why us?” Other questions ask about a student’s most important accomplishment, or to describe herself using a specific number of adjectives. Still other questions ask students to comment on world issues, priorities and values, or favorite things.
Private school application essays are critically important to the admission process. Students should take a great deal of care in constructing essays that are grammatically correct, error-free, and that represent mature and admirable perspectives.
Overall, students should present themselves as mature individuals with admirable qualities, and who care about others as much as they care about themselves. When presented with a question about the accomplishments of which they are proudest, they should write about activities that have helped others as opposed to activities that they have done for self-satisfaction. Of course, this is not to say that they should not write about great personal accomplishments such as scoring the winning goal or being elected class president. These too are admirable accomplishments. However, they should be judicious in their self-praise, give credit to others, and discuss activities that have benefited others. Being honest is also important because insincerity is a big red flag. They should write about the things they care about most and discuss the things that they are passionate about.
Here are some quick tips for writing successful private school application essays:
- Reveal an important aspect of yourself, and don’t be afraid to reveal a weakness. No one is perfect. Don’t try to act it.
- Your essays should support the rest of your application and your interview. They all must work together.
- Prove that your view of the world extends beyond the walls of your school. Write about important societal or world issues.
- Don’t use clichés. If you’ve heard it, don’t use it. Be creative. Find original ways to say things.
- Remember that the essay is used to determine whether or not you are a good match for the school. Therefore, try to match your answers to the priorities and culture of each school.
Full Service Admission Assistance
In many ways, applying to private school is more difficult than applying to college. Typically, there are more essays to answer, and more application platforms to use including Ravenna, Gateway to Prep Schools, and The Standard Application Online (SAO). In addition, some schools use their own application. In most cases parents must answer questions as well and their responses can be even more important than their students’ responses. Almost every private school requires or strongly encourages a personal visit and interview. Then, there are many considerations such as day student versus boarding student, school size and focus, grade range, matriculation record, testing requirements (ISEE, SSAT, HSPT, TOEFL, for example), and several others.
Avalon admission provides a true soup-to-nuts solution, with assistance across-the-board with everything from school list selection to interview prep and essay writing. We take all the guesswork out of applying to private schools and make the experience both holistic and enjoyable.N
No one school is right for everyone. Each student and family must make its own choices based on their priorities, personal preferences, and family values. For example, a school with a religious leaning may not be right for everyone but might be perfect for others. Some students prefer a large school, while others prefer small schools. Some families prefer boarding schools while others prefer day schools. Some families prefer their students to be nearby, while others seek the best school regardless of location. Some students prefer schools in the country, while others prefer schools in the city. Some families prefer schools that are strict, that perhaps have a dress code, while others prefer schools that are more nurturing and less focused on discipline.
There are countless factors that go into making the right decision with respect to private schools. Before making a choice, we strongly suggest that families learn as much as possible about each private school to which they are applying. Rely less on reputation and more on observation. If your goal is to have your child attend a top college, be sure to research each school’s record of matriculation. If your goal is to give your child as many opportunities to explore his creativity as much as his academic curiosity, then be sure to choose a school that has the facilities to accommodate your child’s interest. At Avalon Admission, our expert private school admissions counselors are here to help you find the best fit private schools for your and your child’s unique needs and goals. Once we identify the right schools, we help you get in with our unequaled concierge-level service that make the entire process manageable and effective.
More Frequently Asked Questions About Private Schools
Are boarding schools better than private day schools?
While most private day and boarding schools provide students with superb educations and extraordinary extracurricular resources, the differences between the two groups of schools can be, quite literally, night and day.
Are private schools worth the cost?
Private schools do offer many advantages, but often at a very steep price. While many parents choose private schools because they feel that they provide a more direct pathway to elite colleges, the truth is that some students have a better chance of getting into top colleges from public schools.
What is a Harkness Table?
A Harkness Table is nothing more than an oval table, however the philosophy it inspires is revolutionary. The purpose of a Harkness Table is to have 12 people involved in the teaching of a particular subject instead of one. Harkness Table is a registered trademark of Phillips Exeter Academy, though the tables and teaching methods are used at many schools around the nation.
How can I increase my odds of getting into a top private school?
The acceptance rate at top private schools is between 10% and 20% which tells you that many times more students are rejected than accepted. As is the case with top colleges, top private schools look for certain characteristics in their applicants. First, they look for great grades and test scores. Next, they look for maturity. Also, they want students who are likable and therefore likely to get along with other students in their class. Next, they look for students who have demonstrated a particular passion. They also like students who have significant skills or accomplishments. Finally, they like students who are eloquent speakers and excellent writers. Click on the link below for more details
What are some strategies for private school admission?
Applying to private school has become every bit as competitive as applying to college. Therefore, knowing what private schools are looking for in candidates is a critically important part of the process. Click the link below for six strategies for private school admission.