Boarding School Myths Your Family Must Know

Parents and students often have misconceptions about what the boarding school selection and application process is like. When you separate fact from fiction, however, finding the right school becomes much easier.

To help clarify some of these misconceptions, I’ve compiled a list of the most common boarding school myths. How many of these myths have you heard?

Myth: Students should bring portfolios/books highlighting their accomplishments to share during their interviews.

Reality: When I called my admission friends to ask about their ideas for this list, they all said this was the biggest no-no.  It isn’t a good idea to bring these books to your interviews. The admissions directors want to spend your time together talking with you and getting to know you. They don’t want you to flip through a book about your life.

For example, when I was an admissions director at Western Reserve Academy, I remember a girl who did this.  She had very good TOEFL and SSAT scores but we only had scheduled 20 minutes for her interview. She used 15 minutes to flip through her book.

Myth: The Top SSAT scores guarantee a spot at a top boarding school.

Reality: Top scores help students make the first cut during the admissions process.  The process is so competitive for students that they must have some piece of their story that stands out when the admissions committee is reviewing files.  This must be a real talent and needs to be shared in a compelling way during the process. I coach  clients so that they stand out in the best possible way with whatever talents they have.

Myth: The boarding schools prefer students from the top, most rigorous schools.

Reality: The boarding schools want the most mission appropriate students and admit students from a wide range of feeder schools.

Myth: The ranking list is the best way to decide which schools are good ones for your child.

Reality: The ranking list should only be one criteria.  Curriculum, culture, location and fit should be the most important criteria.

Myth: Memorizing the interview ahead of time is the best preparation.

Reality: Students should NEVER memorize a script ahead of their interview.  Practicing or doing mock interviews is a great strategy but memorizing is a bad idea. Admissions officers stop listening immediately if the student does this.

The ability to engage in a conversation about yourself in a natural way is key.  This is the reason that I offer unlimited mock interviews to our clients.  Each mock interview has different questions so it is impossible to memorize and helps the students to speak naturally.

Myth: It is important that essays are perfectly written.

Reality: Your essays should be thoughtful but must sound like you.  If your consultant or someone else wrote them, it hurts you.  I make suggestions and comments but never rewrite clients’ essays.

Myth: Certain consultants can guarantee spots at top schools.

Reality: Schools certainly trust some consultants more than others, but consultants never have guaranteed spots so don’t believe it.

Myth: The students who attend a highly ranked boarding school are going to attend a highly ranked college.

Reality: Students from a wide range of boarding schools attend the top colleges/Ivy leagues.  Students should attend the school that allows them to have the best experience. This allows them to have the strongest possible profile for college.

Myth: Students don’t need to read the school’s website in advance of the visit.  They can rely on the consultant’s notes.

Reality: Schools care deeply about the student’s genuine interest in their school. Be sure that the student does their own homework.

Myth: Students must be experts in all things and not wise to try what they might want to try for the first time.

Reality: Schools want students to blossom and grow in new ways.  Trying new things is one of the most important aspects of boarding school.

Knowing the truth behind these common boarding school misconceptions already puts your child at an advantage against other students. For more guidance through your boarding school selection journey, contact Anne.