There are tons of forms to fill out when you apply to a private school. Whether you do it online or by hand, you still have to give lots of thought to what you and your child are writing. This is especially important when it comes to The Candidate Statement. Let's look at a couple of schools' forms and see what they require.
Chatham Hall calls its Candidate Statement an Applicant Response and specifies up front that the form is "To be completed by the Applicant without assistance." That's true of just about every school to which you will apply. The school wants to get to know each applicant. It wants to understand what makes her tick. Absolutely resist the temptation to guide or correct your child's answers on this form. The admissions staff will know if you fix things anyway.
Chatham Hall wants to know about your child's activities. It asks whether she rides or not and if she plans to ride at the school. Most schools with equestrian programs will want to know if the applicant is a rider. There are several more questions which are fairly straightforward. Then comes the essay. Your child must choose from three questions or prompts. Her answer can be as long or short as she wishes. What are they looking for? They want to see if she can frame a thoughtful response to the question she has chosen. They want to know if she can organize her thoughts and develop them in a detailed manner. This kind of admissions question shows the staff something most standardized tests cannot do. It shows what kind of a writer she is and how good a critical thinker she is.
Much the same sort of questions as you found on Chatham Hall application appear on the Shattuck-Saint Mary's forms. Once again the essay question offers three prompts. This school gives your child a bit more guidance about length by suggesting that she write about 250-500 words. But notice that there are no lines either for the essay or the questions before that. You definitely will want to have her practise how to write neatly in a straight line. Placing her answer paper over a ruled pad such as a legal pad is one way to accomplish that. The operative instruction is "Complete this form carefully and legibly in your own handwriting." While good penmanship is a scarce commodity these days, this is one school which seems to value it. Make sure that your child does her best.
The Hun School calls their applicant form The Applicant's Questionnaire. The order is slightly different from the schools mentioned previously but essentially the same information is requested. Part II contains the essay. The Hun school gives your child this instruction, among others: "Please focus on content rather than length." The emphasis is on quality of thought and expression, as opposed to ramblings.
Rye Country Day School styles its candidate statement the Student Questionnaire. The school is very clear that "THIS FORM TO BE COMPLETED BY THE STUDENT ONLY." Their Student Questionnaire is detailed. The school uses it for students applying to Grades 5 through 12. Personally, I would think that younger students will need more time to complete the form than older students. The first page has six questions which require thoughtful answers, as well as a second page which asks about Academic Interests and Current Course Schedule, Co-Curricular Interests, and Athletic Interests. While you must not help your child complete this Student Questionnaire, you can print out a copy of the form and instruct her to write her answers without worrying about penmanship or grammatical mistakes. Tell her to put the questionnaire aside for twenty-four hours, then review it. Once she is satisfied with the content, she can write a neat, final or fair copy to include with the rest of the documents in the application.
Forsyth Country Day School also calls its Candidate's Statement a questionnaire and is quite specific about how the answers must be written. The schools uses this document for applicants to fifth grade through twelfth grade.
"Print the Essay Questions and Student Questionnaire and have the student complete them in his/her own handwriting."
As I have suggested several times, print out forms similar to these and have your child complete a rough draft. Then have her make a fair copy of the document to submit to the school.
Denver Academy uses a Student Video instead of a Candidate's Statement for applicants to its Upper School (high school). Here are the Academy's instructions:
Student Video Submission (Optional for Applicants to Grades 6-12)
To the applicant: Please prepare a short video about yourself, and address one of the prompts below. The Admission Committee prefers a video that is less than two minutes and under 200 megabytes. Thank you, and have fun!
- Share a story about an act of kindness or an act of courage that you have witnessed sometime in the last year.
- Tell us how a friend, classmate, sibling, grandparent or cousin would describe your personality and what they most value about you as a person.
- Demonstrate a special talent or skill of which you are proud.
Once again, encourage your child to make a rough cut of the video. She can then tweak and refine it as she chooses. Of course, the video must be her own work. So, forget having your cousin Bill the professional photographer do the video. The school will know if a video or statement is not your child's handiwork.
So, there you have it. An overview of The Candidate's Statement. Think of this part of the application as having the same purpose as a photograph except that you are showing the admissions staff how you think as opposed to what your face looks like.
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