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How to Make Boarding School Decisions Without Revisit Days

by Holly McGlennon Treat

The deadline is fast approaching for students who recently received boarding school acceptances to make final decisions about where they will enroll. Even amidst the challenges of larger world events, this is a moment for students and families to celebrate their diligent work, commitment to education, and the personal growth that is embedded in a school search. Every student is unique and valued—which is why various schools have invited you to join their communities. At The Bertram Group, we know how significant traditional revisit days can be in helping admitted students make their final school choices. The strategies below can help students and families make enrollment decisions with confidence.

  1. Prioritize.
    Most students who are reviewing multiple acceptances can quickly hone in on their top two or three choices. If you have not already done so, reach out immediately to let any other schools know that you will not be attending. This is a courtesy toward the schools and will also help to focus your energy. If you are struggling to winnow acceptances, identify the three to five criteria that are most important to you, and rank each school based on those criteria.
  2. Take full advantage of digital revisit experiences.
    In a very short timeframe, admission offices have created an impressive array of opportunities for admitted students to connect digitally. Offerings include panel discussions with current students, direct contact with student ambassadors, Zoom calls focused around interest groups, and online forums with faculty and administrators. Also review and follow each school’s social media platforms. A lot of communication with current and admitted students is currently transpiring via email, but some schools are also posting photos, videos, and other items that communicate the values and culture of their community even during remote learning. During this time, be careful not to depend on hearsay, which is often subjective and inaccurate.
  3. Revisit your notes and memories from past research.
    Remember that you already made a significant investment in learning about a school even before you applied. Trust in that process. At The Bertram Group, we encourage candidates to keep a journal after each school visit. Those notes can remind you of your gut feelings when you were on campus. If you didn’t jot anything down, ask parents to interview you about those experiences to help jog your memory. What was the campus like? With whom did you interact? What did you tell others about the visit? Most importantly, how did you feel when on campus? Create a relaxed atmosphere for this conversation and you may be surprised what you can remember.
  4. Reach out to your educational consultant.
    We know schools. And, through the school search, we have gotten to know you. We can answer questions about schools or help you connect to those at a school who can answer questions. We also are a source of stored knowledge through our ongoing conversations about your educational goals. We cannot make a decision for any student, but we are always available to offer our expertise and to help families put into action the self-awareness, goal-setting, and knowledge they have built through the school search.

It is important to acknowledge that we are living through a difficult time, and the uncertainty in the world makes decision-making now particularly hard. But, it is also important to celebrate that choosing a boarding school is an exciting adventure. Many boarding schools are more than a century old. Most have endured through two world wars—some were around even during the Civil War—and a myriad of other momentous events. Although remotely, these schools are currently in full swing. They have done a remarkable job pivoting their programming to a virtual platform. Students are connecting online through classes, conversations with advisors, and teacher office hours. Even student clubs are continuing to meet and dorm advisors are hosting virtual get-togethers. Schools are eagerly awaiting your enrollment decision, and they look forward to welcoming you, along with current students, back to campus as soon as possible.

Holly McGlennon Treat is a principal with The Bertram Group, based in Connecticut. She specializes in advising families about independent junior and secondary boarding schools.