Below are Andrew Churchill's answers to selected questions submitted by students and parents who use AdmissionsQuest.

Question (Q): I'm so glad I stumbled onto the site where I found this. I am trying to find a school that is right for me but I cannot. I keep trying to find schools and write questions and comments, but I can't find anything that I like. I was hoping you could at least tell me who to talk to. I am applying for my tenth grade year. I live in Minnesota and currently attend a public high school. I have a lot of friends, and I don't do many sports. I love school, I always try to challenge myself because I find my classes are very "straight from a book". I received a 4.0 my first semester and was ranked number 1 out of 436 students. Even though my marks have not always been perfect I have maintained an A average in my core subjects throughout school. I usually receive very high scores in required aptitude and state tests, especially in comprehension and reading. I am looking for a - school to live at during the school year, and a whole bunch of class options, and activities. I am looking for something in California because I cannot live in the cold anymore and I love their weather and being in such a populated area.

Andrew Churchill (AC): There are a number of resources for researching private school options. I would recommend this site, AdmissionsQuest.com, and the Association of Boarding Schools (www.schools.com). Finally it is possible to hire an educational consultant to help you with your search. Educational consultants work for you (for a fee) to help sort through the myriad of options. They will listen to what is most important to you and then advise what schools might be an appropriate fit. With literally 100s of boarding schools all over the country (and all of them quite different) this can be an attractive option to help you focus your time and energies. The best web-site to learn more about educational consultants or to find a referral in your local area is www.IECAonline.com.

Q: I would like to know if there are any schools that offer home staying program in Michigan, Minnesota, Illinois, California or Washington or if there is a way for me to find out where home staying is available like website or something like that. Thank you

AC: I would suggest going to the TABS website (www.schools.com) and doing a search for schools in the areas in which you are interested. You then could contact the schools directly.

Q: We are thinking about sending our fourteen year-old son to a boarding school in Connecticut. He will be interviewed because he will be trying to qualify for a scholarship. Would you provide me with a list of questions he may be asked during the course of the interview?

AC: Typically during an interview schools will want to get to know your child as an individual. He/she should be prepared to talk about themselves, their interests and their hopes/dreams for the high school experience. When considering the relative merit of applicants, schools are always interested in the “best match” students. This does not necessarily mean highest SSAT scores or GPA. The students who I feel are the “best match” are ones that can talk about why New Hampton School is uniquely able to meet their needs. Whether it is aspects of our culture or specifics of programming, students who have taken the time to understand New Hampton School and then have thought about why New Hampton would be a real place for them to be at high school make the strongest impression during the interview process.

Q: My 12 yr old son is now attending school in MS. I do not think that it is a good fit, academically. Could you recommend a good consultant?

AC: See question 1.

Q: I AM LOOKING FOR A ABOVE AVERAGE PRIVATE CATHOLIC SCHOOL FOR MY CHILDREN TO ATTEND GRADES 3 AND 8 FOR THE NEXT SCHOOL YEAR 2003-04 IN THE EASTERN PART OF FLORIDA.

AC: I believe that there is an association of catholic schools that has a web-site. I do not know the site name but would suggest searching for either a national or Florida association of catholic schools.

Q: Hi, my son is 14, and an 8th grader, currently attending Stone Mountain School in Black Mountain, NC. He is ODD and LD (CAPD, poor reading comprehension), and not very motivated academically. However, he is doing very well in the SMS program. I expect him to graduate sometime this summer 2003. He is gifted athletically and artistically. I am looking for a private boarding school that would accept kids who are not necessarily college bound, that is somewhat structured and nurturing, without having a strict level system, and that has a strong study skills/remedial program. We live in NJ, and I would prefer a school within reasonable driving distance of NJ. Any suggestions?

AC: See question 1. I think that it may be particularly helpful to work with an educational consultant in this particular case as the schools for which you are looking may be smaller and not have a presence in some of the more mainstream search criterias. Educational consultants who specialize in working with non-traditional students will know of many options that may be difficult to otherwise identify.

Q: I am looking for a preferably all-girl school with high moral values for my Niece. I live in Pleasanton, CA and am looking for institution in the area.
I appreciate your help.

AC: I would recommend the site national association of independent schools site as a place to start. (www.nais.org) There should be searchable criteria by geography and then by single sex institutions that result in a list of local schools that will match your criteria. If you decide that boarding school is an option, there is wonderful association of boarding schools for girls. I am not sure the name but both Miss Porters and Stoneleigh Burnam are members so you could probably backtrack into the association from either of their web-sites.