Boarding School Admissions Speed BumpEditor’s Note: “A Parent’s Boarding School Admission Journal” will move
to a regular Thursday publication schedule. Check-in each week to read
the Boarding School Mom’s latest entry.

One of the benefits of working with a consultant is that she was able to provide feedback from the interviews. Some of this was positive, but from others we learned that our normally voluble son had been uncommunicative and distant. I was also dismayed when sometimes he would hardly speak to the tour guide. Nevertheless, I made sure he followed-up promptly with a thank-you note, and we proceeded confident that he would be accepted at a competitive school. In fact against the advice of the consultant, he only applied to four schools.  Of these schools, three he would have been happy to attend and one we would have been happy to have him attend.

Then came the dark day when the consultant called to tell us that he had been rejected at two schools and wait-listed at two schools. As we recovered from the blow, she was terrific at helping us explore our options. One, we could push to get off the wait lists. By this time we only considered one of the wait list schools an option based on some things we had learned about the other school, but our son felt the school’s strength – outdoor winter sports- didn’t align with his interests. Two, she felt some of the schools at which he had interviewed but to which we hadn’t applied, might accept him. We considered this as we had liked the feel of these schools very much, but felt that if they were the right fit, we would have applied there initially. Three, she suggested he attend a junior boarding school for a year and reapply the next cycle.

We knew next to nothing about junior boarding schools but our consultant gave us background information on the three she felt were most appropriate. All were within two hours of home and all terrific schools, but one she felt would be the best fit for our child. She arranged for us to visit on short notice. The tour guide was an intelligent, friendly boy and our son said that despite the rain, the school had a happy feel. The paperwork was submitted immediately, facilitated by the brevity of junior boarding school applications in comparison to the many essays required by prep schools. In one of the nicest touches we’ve experienced in our admissions journey, the school’s Director of Admissions called shortly thereafter to tell us personally that our son had been accepted.

That Speed-bump Worked-out for the Best
He had a great ninth grade year at that school. In a supportive environment that truly understands boys, he studied with bright, engaging teachers, was coached by enthusiastic, talented adults who encouraged good sportsmanship and dedication, had terrific opportunities to participate in theater and the academic team and had the fun of living with boys from all over the world and this country without the pressure of trying to impress girls. He was able to prove that he could thrive in a boarding environment and that he could succeed at sports he had never been exposed to in his small school at home. He also had a fresh set of references from a school well-known to the high schools to which he next applied.

The school has a great placement office with which we worked, but we also chose to retain our consultant again. She knew our son better than the placement office and also was supporting a smaller pool of kids. This time we again looked at nine schools, six of which were new to us. Although we understood the benefit of looking farther afield, we were clear that we wanted him within two hours of home.

To maintain privacy and confidentiality, our author writes under
the pen name “Boarding School Mom” and all family, child consultant,
and school names will be changed or omitted. You can reach AQ’s
Boarding School Mom at

Photo Credit: bwats2