ENTRANCE TESTING AND INTERVIEWS
Is it harder to gain entrance in later years compared to early years?
Every school will have what can be termed ‘natural points of entry’. These occur when a school has strategically created space in certain grades to enable new families to enter the school. For many, the final natural point of entry is grade 9 with entry to grade 10 and 11 being driven by attrition from the previous year. Most points of entry happen prior to grade 9 with many admitting to grade 1, 3, 5 and 7. It is best to check with each school about where they admit and how many spots are typically available.
How should we prepare for the interview? As parents and the applicant?
The interview is best for everyone when the student is allowed to be his or her authentic self. Over-preparing can lead to additional stress and time spent on many topics that may never be covered. Come to your interview ready to chat about yourself and what you like. Be comfortable with yourself, speak from the heart and engage in the conversation.
Are parents assessed as part of the interview process?
It is likely no surprise that when a student is admitted, so is the family. While everyone wants the student and school match to be a good match, we all want the match to be good for the entire family. As a result, many of the schools will spend some time chatting with the parents in an effort to better learn about the family match beyond the student match.
What is the SSAT and do all schools use it?
The SSAT is a test of Math and English that some schools use as part of the admission process. Not all schools use it and you should contact each school in which you have an interest to determine if, and how, it is used.
How important is the SSAT?
There is a fair bit of variety with this answer. On the whole, most schools view this as a complementary piece of information but not a priority piece of information. It is one of the only common threads in an admission process and can be helpful in complementing the information gathered through school reports. It is important that you ask each school how they value the outcomes of the SSAT.
If my student has previously written the SSAT, do they need to rewrite it?
It is never recommended that a student write the test more than once in the same admission cycle. The stress level is elevated and the outcomes are rarely all that different. If you are curious about having written it one year and if it needs to be written in the following year, that is best addressed by each school in which you have an interest.
What types of tests do your schools use for younger grades?
Many schools will use an in-house test for younger applicants. Typically they will cover Math and English and in some cases, a school may ask applicants in to the school for a period of time to better understand the fit.
As parents we are sold on single gender schools, but our 11-year-old son finds the concept “weird”. Suggestions?
It may be helpful to take your son to a few of the schools for an Open House or tour. It is tough to make an informed choice base on what is believed to be true in the absence of providing yourself with some first-hand experience. Take a tour, ask questions and pay attention to how the school feels. Your son is likely reluctant because of what he feels the community may be like, not because of the academics. Time spent in an environment will inform how you feel about that environment.
What is the best time to start a child? Prep or Senior school?
There is no standard answer to this question. It is a highly personal choice based on current experiences and expectations and what you hope to get from an independent school experience. Ask yourself if you are running from, or running to, an independent school experience. If you are running from something then the time may be now regardless of the child’s current grade.
What can we look for on our tour that signals the right “cultural” fit for our child?
There will likely be no one defining sign or moment on the tour. Rather, it will likely be a gradual building of many small emotional experiences during a school visit that collectively bring you to a point of determination. Ask yourself if you can see yourself as a member of the community based on what you learned about the community. How do people communicate, was there a sense of happiness and belonging, do they offer what we are looking for, did it feel right? These questions can often guide you toward an understanding of fit.
If we applied previously how is that viewed by the schools?
All schools recognize that what a child was at one point in time is not necessarily what they are at a later point. Often someone is not admitted simply because the school ran out of space despite having an abundance of admissible applicants. We all are willing to see someone again as we know we will likely not see the exact same person.
How many times should one apply if not successful the first time?
There is no limit or prescribed number of times that someone can apply. There can be many reasons why someone is not admitted and why a school would welcome a new application in subsequent years.
What is your advice for non-intake years? Is it worth the risk?
It is. Application deadlines precede the re-enrolment deadlines of current families. As a result, openings can happen in non-intake years after the application deadline and if you are not in the applicant pool, you cannot be considered.
If I know we cannot afford tuition, should we still apply?
Yes. Speak with the school to determine what Financial Aid opportunities exist so that you can temper your expectations, but do not dismiss the idea in the absence of that investigation. All schools work hard to be as supportive as possible to as many people as possible.
Is financial assistance provided for transportation, trips, and athletic programs?
Financial assistance typically covers some degree of tuition, although some schools will consider the amount of Aid awarded based on the total cost of attending.
Can I expect to receive up to full financial assistance at a school?
The number of Financial Aid awards that cover full fees are few and far between. We work to help as many people as possible which precludes too many awards being offered that cover full fees. It is more likely that an award will cover partial fees.
Are schools needs aware or needs blind?
Admission decisions are made separately from Financial Aid decisions.
What are the criteria for financial assistance?
Financial assistance that is based on need is based on the degree of need. A separate, third party called Apple Financial Services will assess the family’s current financial situation and make an award recommendation to the school. Schools will then use the recommendation to guide their decision; more often that not they will stay very close to the recommended amount so long as there is money available.
How are you adapting to the changing demands of the world beyond the school?
The world is demanding a set of skills that includes collaboration, adaptability, agility, analysis skills and creativity to name a few. Our schools pay close attention to the research that supports these needs, and change not just what we teach, but how we teach. We must prepare our kids for what we believe will be the way of the world, but more importantly, we must teach them agility and adaptability as they will function in a world we can not yet see or define.
What is the biggest surprise for parents in single gender education?
The biggest single surprise may be that we have not removed the opposite gender from their lives and that the environments we provide allow them to safely explore and grow their still sets when interacting with the opposite gender.
How does diversity enhance the school for all students?
Diversity, regardless of how it is defined, provides perspective and context. It allows others to grow and broaden their understanding by being surrounded by people who, in some way, have experienced life in a different way. All people can benefit from a greater understanding of how others live and function. By providing students with this perspective, we provide a socially responsible experience for our students as the world they encounter is comprised of us all, regardless of how we came to be.
Can B or C students get in?
Yes. We see fit as being broader than academics. That said, there is a level of competition in the admission process and a need for a functional academic framework that will allow for student success. Some students are not admitted because they are not quite academically ready. That, however, does not mean that a B or C student cannot be admitted.