A meeting for all Fifth Form students and parents of Fifth Formers is held during the Winter Carnival weekend in February. The purpose of the meeting is to outline the secondary school process as well as to answer questions regarding the process. Beginning in early April I will meet personally with members of the Fifth Form class to confer about the secondary school process as well as discuss potential secondary schools for your consideration.
What this is asking is, "How will I know which school is right for me? This is a hard question for other people to answer for you because it focuses on your feelings. If you are not already sure which school you want to go to, your best strategy is to visit several different schools-and different kinds of schools in order to get a feel for each one. Sooner or later you will come to know which one is right for you. It may strike you all of a sudden, or it may grow on you gradually. You may know right when you step on the campus for your tour, or you might not know until your acceptance arrives.
Sometimes the right fit is a matter of available programs: courses or teams you know you want, which only a few schools have available. Sometimes the decision is much less certain; all of the schools you will be considering are excellent institutions with similar offerings and fine programs. If you are truly undecided as you look at schools, be sure to look at a wide variety of schools. Seeing the different programs will help solidify the elements you like and don't like in a school. I encourage you also to visit at least one school you are certain you don't want to attend. If you come away from the visit still convinced that you don't want to apply, you will have strengthened your idea of what you are looking for in a school. However, you would be astonished by the number of people who gain new insights and feelings by visiting schools not originally on their lists. Sometimes the best fits come about this way.
If, come April, your decision is still not clear, it/s probably more of an indication that you will be equally happy and equally well served at any of the schools to which you have been accepted. Second visits can help at this point, but these need to be undertaken carefully.
The best answer to this lies somewhere between three and six. Some people need to apply to more for various reasons. Some applicants can select one school, apply, and be accepted. In general, however, this is neither prudent nor recommended. Many find they want to select one "likely" school (a school where they are fairly likely to be accepted), and one "reach" school (a school which they really want to attend, but where their acceptance is much less certain), and then submit the rest of their applications to schools which are likely to accept them.
Unfortunately, it is not possible to say in general terms which schools belong in each of these three categories; the answer to this question will be different for every applicant. I can offer up to a certain point, at least an idea on the probability of your chances for acceptance at any given school based on your records and transcript. In the fall of your Sixth Form year I will have a much clearer idea of your chances at certain schools, especially after the end of the first marking period.
You may already know the schools to which you intend to apply. If not, you must begin the process of narrowing the field of schools and selecting your choices. The Secondary School Advising Office will assist you in this process. In early April, I will begin meeting individually with members of the Fifth Form to discuss the secondary school process. Here are some of the questions I will most likely be asking you:
(1) Are you considering boarding at school or will you stay local? If you will be staying local, then your choices have automatically narrowed to the three or four fine schools we have available in the immediate area. I urge you to look at several carefully and to examine a variety of types, but as a day student, there are only so many choices.
(2) What size school do you think you might like to attend?
(3) Are you considering co-ed schools, single sex schools, or both?
(4) Are there special programs or offerings you want your school to provide?
(5) Do you have any special connections to any school through family, friends, location, or any other considerations?
Answering these questions can narrow the field very quickly. This is not an exhaustive list of questions about schools, but should get you headed in the right direction.
Based on your answers to the questions above, you can usually end up with a list of up to half a dozen schools which you are genuinely interested in visiting. Visit the schools. There you will have your interview, tour the campus, and generally be able to get a feel for whether the school is for you or not. You may develop a strong sense of where you want to be at this point, or you may emerge with further questions. Either way you have made progress. Please contact me whenever you think I can offer help or advice.
This process works best when there is steady communication between the students, the parents, and me. In addition to meeting to talk with students, I am always willing to meet with parents or chat on the phone at any time during the application process.
Plan on two to three hours per application, taking into account that you will need to do at least a couple of drafts for each essay. Many short answer questions will take less time, but again, rough drafts are necessary. Working on a photocopy of the application is highly encouraged. Remember, you are in control of the application. Plan ahead and budget enough time to do a quality job.
Rough drafts for secondary school essays should be started just prior to or during the Thanksgiving vacation. Focusing on your school work throughout the school year must be a priority so working on school essays needs to be done during vacation time. Sorry, but planning ahead will ease some of the anxiety that surrounds doing school essays. Proofing, editing and rewriting will be part of the writing process. Having an adult proof your work is okay but everything you write must be your work!
Every school is different and uses a somewhat different set of criteria, but here, in general terms, is what the school will look at:
(1) Your transcript - If the school does not believe you are well suited for their academic program, they are not likely to accept you.
(2) Teacher recommendations - What the teachers who work with you have to say about how responsible you are, your work ethic, your response to challenge, and other qualities is very important.
(3) SSAT scores - Some schools downplay the importance of these, but every school uses them to some measure. Students who qualify for the extended time SSAT will take the test in December. It is important that both the student and the student's parents discuss this option before registering for the test.
(4) Other factors - These include your application and interview, elements in your profile that make you an attractive or unique candidate, connections or family history you may have with the school, and many others. In general, these are the last considerations a school will weigh, but they can definitely make a difference.
(5) The quality of the candidate pool - This is a significant variable, but must be considered. If a school receives many applications from strong candidates they may be forced to put some applicants on wait lists or even turn them down. This is truly unfortunate, but is the result of strong competition for limited spaces. Be reassured, however, that in general Eaglebrook applicants rank very well in competitive pools.
One thing you do not have to worry about in this regard, however, is having too many Eaglebrook applicants "flood the pool." The schools assure us that they never "cap" admissions from a particular school or make the cut more competitive simply because they received a large number of applicants from that school. Each year this is borne out by the admissions results from the schools. You will not be at a disadvantage in your application simply because many of your classmates are also interested in the same school.
Most secondary schools will mail letters to applicants on March 10. A few schools have "rolling admissions," which means that they will provide the candidate a decision shortly after an application is complete and the file has been reviewed by the Admissions Committee.
If you end up being offered a spot on a school's wait list, it means that you are qualified to be accepted by the school, but that the school has had more applicants than it has spaces available. You may opt to wait for a space to open at the school, or you can decline your space on the list if you are no longer interested. If you decide to hold on, you will have an additional month or so to wait as the school sees how many spaces they will be able to offer to applicants on their wait lists. In general, absolutely nothing will be done regarding the wait lists during this intervening month. You - or others on your behalf - can phone the school, but there is little hope of making any progress until early April. By about April 15, however, most schools will begin to move their wait lists, as they determine how many additional spaces they can offer.
If you end up being accepted by more than one school, you should try to decide as soon as possible which school you will attend. When you inform the schools you will not attend, they know that they can offer your place to candidates on their wait list. The longer you take to make your decision, the longer other applicants must wait. So, try to make your own decision as soon as possible.
If you are applying to more than one school, I will be asking what your first choice is. This means simply which school you would attend if you were accepted by all the schools. This does not mean you are less likely to be accepted by schools which are not your first choice. It is simply another piece of information I have to work with as schools consider these decisions.
Should you inform a school that they are your first choice? Only if you are completely certain that this is the school you want to attend and that you will not change your mind. In general it is hard for an applicant to be this sure about all choices at this point. Most applicants will change their minds at some point in the process, sometimes several times. It would be better for me to pass on this information rather than you.
More and more people are asking this question each year; most schools are working every year to increase the size of their financial aid budgets, and money is available for people who need it.
You will find that most schools use a "need-based" system for allocating their resources. Applicants for aid fill out the School Scholarship Service (SSS) form which is processed at a central office in Princeton, NJ. This form uses your family income and assets to generate a figure they feel represents the amount of aid for which you qualify. However, this does not indicate the amount of aid you will receive. Each school must still make that decision for itself. They may offer that amount, they may offer less, they may offer none at all. Rarely do they offer more, but most schools do hold fairly tightly to Princeton's estimate as a cap.
The new SSS forms for the year become available in mid-December and can be submitted as soon as they are available. However, since your financial information for the current year is needed to complete the form, most people cannot fill it out until they receive their tax information in January. Once you do have all the necessary information, however, you should file the form promptly. Being late in this process definitely has unfortunate consequences. The SSS forms are available from the secondary schools themselves.
Some schools do offer a certain amount of merit-based financial aid which does not depend on demonstrable need. Some schools have merit-based scholarships which are reserved for families who can demonstrate at least a certain level of financial need (according to the results of the SSS). It is worth asking each school what their offerings are regarding financial aid awards.
On the school applications there is a place to note whether or not you are applying for financial aid. People have expressed concern that indicating on the application your interest in receiving aid might undercut your child's chances of being accepted. Be reassured, however, that the schools are prohibited by law from basing acceptance decisions on level of financial need. Therefore, there is no liability in making this disclosure.
When considering the applications of candidates who are also asking for financial aid, the schools usually use one of two systems. Most frequently the processes are kept as separate as they can be. The admissions office considers the folders from the point of view of suitability, and basic acceptances are decided upon. Then the folders of those applicants who were accepted and are applying for aid are considered by the financial aid office, and a decision about a financial grant is made. Applicants can receive a basic acceptance or an acceptance linked with some offer of aid.
Occasionally the two processes are linked. The admissions office considers the folders of all applicants and decides which to accept. The folders of those accepted who are applying for aid are then sent to the financial aid offices. If the financial aid office decides that they cannot offer enough aid for the student to be able to attend the school, the student is not given an acceptance.
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