Students, being involved in the process with your parents when you are applying to private schools is going to make you that much more ahead of the game when the time comes to apply to college. The process is very similar, and with organization and thought it can be a simple (and sometimes fun) process.
Step One: Self-Reflect.
Think about what you want out of your new school. Make a list of what your current school has that you wish your new school would; or what you wish that it did. Then take those “wants” and prioritize them; maybe start with the MUST HAVES and on down the line. Doing this at the beginning stage is going to make it so much easier later on.
Step Two: Start Your Research.
There are great sites that give you the chance to review the basic information about schools all in one place. Try going to Private School Review, Boarding School Review, or The Association of Boarding Schools, and start searching for schools. You will see snapshots of the school with information about location, school size, sports, etc. Compare that to your list and start making notes of schools that you want to learn more about. Narrow down your favorites to a manageable number (maybe five or six).
Step Three: Request Information.
This is going to be your first chance to hear from the school. Looking at the website is great, but you will really get a feel for the personal attention that the school can provide by seeing how the admission office provides that same attention through the inquiry process. Plus, you will likely continue to receive email updates about special events as you are working through the process.
Step Four: Set Up Visits.
Schedule a time to go visit the school. Depending on location you may want to make a couple trips. One for an Open House or personal tour and then maybe back to campus to spend the day in classes. If the school is further away you may want only get one visit to make sure you are getting everything that you want out of the day. Do not be afraid to tell the school that you want to meet with a certain coach or teacher. This school is going to lay the foundation for your future and is one of the biggest decisions that you have had the opportunity to make for yourself to date. Make sure you are getting everything that you want out of the visit.
Step Five: Decide Where to Apply.
You may find that there is just one school that you want to apply to, maybe there are more. Now is the time that you sit down with your parents and decide where you are going to submit your application. Go through the application checklist for each school and start getting the information that you need. Most of the time, as a student, your responsibility will be writing essays or asking teachers/coaches to write letters of recommendation. But, most importantly, be sure to know what you need for each school and the deadlines that they need to be in by.
Step Six: Congratulations! You Are Accepted! Now What?
This is the time you make a commitment on where you are going to attend. If you know exactly which school you are going to attend, congratulations! If you are weighing between a couple schools ask to return to campus for what some call a “revisit” day. You will see a different sense of the school when you know that you have been accepted and sometimes your questions begin to become more detailed. Ask to sit down with the academic office, meet a coach, or sit in on classes again. Again, be sure to pay attention to deadlines. Every school is going to want to know if you accept their offer at a different time. Don’t miss out on going to your dream school because you missed the deadline to get your deposit in.
Best of luck to you, students, as you go through this exciting process.