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What you should know from the 2020 U.S. Boarding School Application Cycle

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By Patrick Ho | Senior Admissions Counselor, Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions

As the U.S. boarding school application season reaches a conclusion, it has been a year of change. I would like to share my insights gained from this application season so forthcoming students will be best prepared for their U.S. boarding school applications in the coming year.

Boarding Schools change to SSAT Test Optional

Due to the epidemic, a majority of U.S Boarding School schools changed one of their admission requirements for this year, which was making SSAT test optional. This policy change is outlined at one of the esteemed boarding schools, Hotchkiss, as per below:

“We appreciate that many applicants will complete some form of standardized testing and will want to include these results with their applications, which we will continue to welcome. In parallel, however, we are aware that the pandemic has made it significantly more challenging for many students to register and sit for administered tests. Some students may also face technology barriers to testing at home. 

It is our belief that standardized testing is only one component of a student’s application. Assessing whether or not a young person will be a good fit with the Hotchkiss community relies on the broader context of each student’s academic and lived experience, and we do not want testing to be a barrier to entry for talented young people. Therefore, our application process will be test optional for the coming admission cycle.  

Students are welcome to submit SSAT or ISEE, but they will not be required. Students who are unable to take the SSSAT or ISEE, or who choose not to submit their scores, will not be disadvantaged in the application process.”

This admission requirement was changed due to the outbreak of coronavirus in the United States where many students failed to sit the SSAT. Luckily, due to the comparatively controlled situation in Hong Kong, many students successfully sat the SSAT last year. Due to this, the number of students taking the SSAT in Hong Kong did not experience much fluctuation. For next year, SSAT may still remain test optional due to the unstable nature of the pandemic, however, for students applying from Hong Kong, prospective students should prepare themselves to take the SSAT as I foresee the number of students intending to take the SSAT in Hong Kong to remain unchanged.

Zoom interviews makes interview slots hard to secure

Under normal circumstances, we recommend students to travel to America for a face to face interview, however, due to the epidemic, all boarding schools changed their policy to only allow Zoom interviews. Due to this policy change, students only needed to fill in an online inquiry form, make an appointment on the school website, and the Zoom interview was scheduled. Stemming from this convenience, many interview slots began to fill up quite early and some students weren’t even able to setup an interview appointment. Similar to the test optional policy, whether boarding schools will allow face to face in the coming application year remains to be seen but a piece of advice would be to book interviews early!

BAC_Patrick

Mr. Patrick Ho

NACAC, 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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