What you can do this summer to narrow down your boarding school search
By Patrick Ho | Senior Admissions Counselor, Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions
In this ongoing pandemic, many summer plans have had to be altered. Summer is usually a time where families can conduct an initial survey of several schools, in the process identifying and narrowing down their potential school list. However, in this testing time, we have all needed to adapt, whether it’s been changing from summer camps to virtual online learning or cancelling summer visits to the U.S. all together. At the same time, boarding schools are doing all they can to cater for prospective students. Since boarding schools are now closed indefinitely, the best approach to find out more about prospective schools is to make use of their virtual campus tour experience. Every school’s virtual tour experience is different, but typically, the following avenues will be offered in order for you to gain further insight about the school from the comfort of your home.
3D Virtual Tour
What is a campus tour without an actual tour of the campus? Thanks to technology, you can experience a virtual tour just as if you were there! You will have a 360 degree view of the most important components of the school to resolve your queries. What kind of rooms will my children be living in? What’s the layout of the classroom and what kind of equipment/technology is utilised? How are the sporting facilities? To give you an idea of what a virtual tour is like, here are virtual tours of McCallie School, an all-boys school in Tennessee and Kent School, a co-ed school in Connecticut.
A virtual tour can only give you a physical feel of the school, that’s why it’s important to listen to what it actually feels like being a member the school. Many times, families will visit websites of different schools and afterwards, tell me, “They all look the same, nice campus, lush sporting fields, and state of the art facilities. What’s the difference between each one?”. When you’re actually visiting the school on a physical campus tour, the normal procedure is for a student to take you around, describing all the unique points of the school and answering any questions you may have. They may tell you their favourite aspect of the school, why they chose to enrol here in the first place, what happens on the weekends, how strict the school is, and how well do international students integrate into the community. That’s why boarding schools have posted videos where they interview students, faculty, parents to share their experience at the school. You can see an example of this sharing at George School, a Quakerism co-ed school in Pennsylvania that offers both the AP and IB curriculum.
For those familiar with the enforced change from face to face to online learning, Zoom won’t be a foreign concept to many of you. At the same, boarding schools have utilised this technology to promote their school. In the form of online webinars, they may consist of inviting the head of school to speak about the school, letting faculty talk about the unique teaching methodology, giving current students the opportunity talk about how’s life at school and parents sharing their experience as a member of the school community. A few webinars were conducted by Salisbury School, a unique boy’s school that offers entrepreneurship and boat making, and you can relive the webinars at the link below.
I am certain that these avenues of information will further enhance your school search journey. We are all looking forward to the day in which life returns to normal, however, in the worst case scenario that schools will not offer any on campus visits this year, the resources above will put you in good stead.
Mr. Patrick Ho
Associate Member of IECA | TEFL
BCom(Finance), University of Sydney
- 7+ years of experience in admissions consulting service with 100% success rate
- Proven track record helping students gain admissions to prestigious boarding schools including Blair Academy, Choate Rosemary School, Loomis Chaffee School, Kent School, Peddle School, Stevenson School, The Webb Schools, CA and Westminster School.
- Had over 75% if his students accepted to a Top 50 U.S. College including Yale University, MIT, Boston University, University of Chicago.
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