Boarding schools offer a unique educational experience characterized by rigorous academics, a vibrant campus community, and an opportunity to foster independence. If you're considering boarding school for your middle or high school student, touring the schools and participating in interviews are crucial steps in the admissions process. These experiences give you and your child a firsthand look at the campus, its facilities, and the educational environment. To help you make the most of your visits and interviews, we've compiled a list of valuable tips and insights.
The Significance of Boarding School Visits
Boarding school visits serve as a two-way street. They allow you to explore campuses, assess the environment, and connect with potential future educators and peers. At the same time, schools are keen to evaluate your fit for their community. Here's why boarding school visits are vital:
Understanding the Campus Culture: Every boarding school has a distinct culture. A visit helps you understand what makes each school unique and whether it aligns with your values and aspirations.
Face-to-Face Connection: It's your chance to engage with teachers, students, and admissions staff, allowing them to get to know you beyond your application materials.
Interview Preparation: Many boarding school interviews take place during visits. This face-to-face interaction helps both you and the school assess the mutual fit.
Preparing for the Tour
Research the School: Familiarize yourself with the school's mission, values, and curriculum. This background knowledge will help you ask informed questions during the tour.
Plan Your Visit: Schedule your tour in advance and make sure to allocate enough time to explore the campus and meet with faculty or staff members.
Ask About the Tour Format: Inquire about the format of the tour. Is it led by a student guide or a staff member? Are there specific areas of the campus that will be highlighted?
What to Look for During the Tour
Academic Facilities: Pay attention to the classrooms, libraries, science labs, and other academic spaces. Are they well-equipped and conducive to learning?
Residential Areas: Examine the dormitories or residential facilities. Assess the living conditions and the level of comfort provided for the students.
Extracurricular Opportunities: Inquire about the school's extracurricular activities, sports programs, clubs, and community service opportunities. These experiences can greatly enrich a student's educational journey.
"The facilities are always going to be impressive when you visit boarding school campuses, but it is the people that make a school unique. I always tell my clients to pay attention to how students and teachers are engaging in the classroom and how they are connecting with each other on the sidewalks in between classes or on the sports field to get a feel for the community." Katie Garrett, Garrett Educational Consulting
Preparing for the Interview
Review Common Interview Questions: Have your child familiarize themself with
typical boarding school interview questions. Practice answering them to build confidence and help your student articulate their thoughts effectively. Commonly asked questions include:
Why boarding school, in general?
Why are you interested in attending our school, specifically?
How do you envision contributing to our school community?
What are your academic strengths and weaknesses?
Describe a challenging situation you faced and how you overcame it.
Highlight Your Child's Achievements: Prepare a list of your child's accomplishments, interests, and goals with them. Help them be ready to discuss how the school can support and nurture their passions.
Be Yourself: Authenticity is key. Speak genuinely about your interests, passions, and goals.
Dress Appropriately: Opt for neat, professional attire that aligns with the school's dress code.
Punctuality: Arrive on time for your interview to demonstrate responsibility. If your travel plans change and/or you are running behind, be sure to call the school and let them know.
Engage Actively: Listen attentively and respond thoughtfully to interview questions. Showcase your genuine interest and enthusiasm for the school.
Ask Questions: Don't be afraid to inquire about the school's culture, academic programs, or community life. This demonstrates your curiosity and engagement.
"The more time you spend talking about the topics you are comfortable with, the less time the interviewer has to ask you questions that you are not prepared to answer." Katie Garrett, Garrett Educational Consulting
Financial Aid Opportunities: If you require financial assistance, make sure to research the school's financial aid options and deadlines before your interview.
Academic Support Services: If your child has unique learning needs, ask about the school's academic support services and accommodations available.
Parental Involvement: Ask about parental involvement opportunities at the school, such as parent-teacher associations and volunteer opportunities.
Transition Support: Ask about the support provided to students during their transition to boarding school, such as orientation programs and counseling services.
Technology Integration: Ask about the use of technology in the classroom and how it
Send a Thank-You Note: Within 24 hours of the interview, send a handwritten or email thank-you note expressing your appreciation for the opportunity to visit and interview.
Review Your Experience: Reflect on your visit and the impressions you gathered to help inform your application decisions.
Follow Up on Additional Questions: If you have any lingering questions or require clarification, don't hesitate to reach out to the admissions office.
"Say something specific in your thank you note. Mention how you loved seeing the students together in the dining hall for meals or enjoyed seeing the music facilities." Katie Garrett, Garrett Educational Consulting
Remember, the goal of touring and interviewing is to find the best fit for your child's educational journey. Take note of your impressions, compare schools, and weigh the pros and cons before making your final decision. Ultimately, trust your instincts and choose the school that aligns with your child's needs, values, and aspirations.
Please note that the tips provided are general guidelines. Each boarding school has its unique qualities, so be sure to adapt these suggestions to the specific schools you are considering.
We wish you and your child all the best in this exciting chapter of their educational journey! Happy touring and interviewing!
Garrett Educational Consulting provides comprehensive counseling for college and boarding school admissions as well as academic advisement. Click HERE to learn about our services.