Many people find the admissions process to private schools intimidating, confusing, complicated and, perhaps, a tad invasive. "Why do they have to know so much about me?" is the question which keeps popping up as you peruse all those admissions materials.
The truth is that admission is more than test scores and a faultless transcript. The school wants to get to know you as much as possible. Who are you? What subjects do you like? What sports do you enjoy? What is your favorite pastime? Behind all those recommendations and test scores is a real person with dreams, aspirations and hopes. A private school wants to encourage you and help you be all you can be.
The other thing which the admissions staff looks for is the fit. Are you a good fit for their school? Can you do the academic work? Will you be a congenial member of the school community? Yes, those are the same questions which you and your parents have been asking as you evaluate schools. Your admissions profile offers the school a fairly complete picture of you, your academic strengths and weaknesses, the sports you like, your hobbies, and so on.
While this video describes a college admissions profile, private school admissions profiles are very similar.
What Are They Looking for?
The admissions staff are not looking for geniuses or stars. If you have good math grades and think that you might like to explore math in depth, a private school can make that happen. Maybe you want to play hockey on a really good team. Again, the right private school can make that happen. But you will not find the right school for you unless you open up and lay all your dreams and aspirations on the table. Once you do that, the admissions staff can begin to explore all the possibilities with you.
One of the great things about private schools is that they encourage excellence and a well-rounded person. You don't have to be afraid of what others will think if your passion is solving quadratic equations. If you are crazy about horses and can't imagine life without mucking stables every day, then a private school will be just the ticket.
Matching the School and Your Interests
But it won't stop there. The school will gently nudge you into other activities and settings with the sole purpose of rounding you and balancing your interests. Private schools encourage academic excellence, but require you to engage in athletic activities several times a week. You cannot duck them either lke you can do in a public school. They are mandatory. This from Miss Porter's FAQs is typical: "Every student is required to participate in either a team sport or sport class each season."
This video shows you how to own the admissions process. Again, although the video describes the college admissions process, the private school admissions process is very similar.
Having said that, remember also that the school knows that you are unique. There is no one 'type' which is a particular school's 'type'. Diversity is the watchword these days in private schools. Your achievements and interests are valued.
It all starts with you. As you explore all those admissions materials, view books, videos and websites, picture yourself in that school setting. Imagine yourself in your classroom, in your dorm room or on the soccer field. It is a wonderful feeling being with others who are just as passionate as you are about the same things. It all starts with you.
Enhancing your admissions profile
As you review the admissions applications, you will notice how all the schools seperate their profile of you into three main sections. These will vary slightly from school to school, but essentially they follow the same pattern. There's the all-important test scores, academic transcripts, and teacher recommendations. The objective here is to provide a level playing field for all applicants. Everybody takes the same standardized admissions test. Everybody has to offer a writing sample. The transcripts confirm both the coursework which you have completed as well as the standards which you have achieved in your former schools. The teacher recommendations provide a confidential, professional assessment of you, both as a student and as a person.
This video explains how to request an academic transcript.
Then the schools seek to understand who you are. They want to know your interest, your dreams and goals. That's the purpose of the interview and the visit. Remember, as I mentioned before, this is a two-way street. The school is sizing you up at the same time as you are sizing the school up. Finally, schools want to see what activities you have been involved with and what accomplishments you have added to your personal history.
Enhancing any of these three components of your admissions profile will offer a clearer picture of you. Being a whiz at math and the author of illustrated short stories, for example, shows a well-rounded person. The school will note your prowess in math when it reviews your transcripts and admissions test scores. But what about your writing and art? Bring along an example of your best work to the admissions interview. Have you been a Scout? List all the badges you have earned as well as conferences you have attended. Are you fluent in Mandarin or Spanish? Make sure you have included that information in your application under other interests. Dont't conceal any of your talents or abilities from the admissions staff.
Your admissions profile needs to show a complete picture of you. It's an important part of the getting to know you process which we call admissions. Own it and your chances of success will improve markedly.
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