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Launch Your Search: Boarding Schools Adapt to Virtual Admission Process

By Krissy Naspo

Every year boarding schools attract talented students in search of exciting educational opportunities—and this year is no different. Even as the COVID-19 pandemic has temporarily disrupted campus life, schools and students look forward to being back together on campus when the time is right. With that in mind, families interested in boarding schools should begin their search now, so that they can fully explore their options. This spring, admission offices have quickly reinvented their offerings so that students and parents have a wealth of information, without ever stepping onto campus.

It is not too late for students to begin a search for entry this fall. Most students launching a search now, however, will be targeting entry in fall 2021. Either way, the strategies below will help you get started:

  1. Start with personal reflection. Finding a school that is an excellent fit is as much about self-awareness as it is about researching schools. As a student, how do you learn best? Are you independently motivated, or do you benefit from more organizational support? Are you looking for a signature program that will help you explore a particular passion? What athletic, artistic, or club activities inspire you? Make a list of what you hope to find in a school.  
     
  2. Get to know schools through their websites and social media. Schools are strong communicators and are eager to share their school culture. Designed to present a comprehensive look at a school’s program, websites commonly outline information about academic courses, signature programs, learning support, athletics, arts, and other student life activities. A school’s social media channels are a good place to see what it celebrates from its daily school life. This spring in particular, the images, videos, and announcements on social media are a window into how schools build community, whether on or off campus.
     
  3. Register for virtual campus tours, webinars, and panel discussions. It has never been easier to learn about boarding schools online. With school fairs and campus visits curtailed, admission offices have created a plethora of virtual meet-and-greets and info sessions. Hearing students, parents, and faculty speak about their experiences will give you a strong sense of a school’s culture. If the format allows, go ahead and ask questions. Like a campus visit, these forums are opportunities to build relationships, so that schools get to know you as you learn about them.
     
  4. Reach out to an educational consultant. It’s our job to know about schools, and we find great joy in sharing that information. We have spent years visiting campuses and understanding the intricacies of individual school programs. As we get to know you as student, we can recommend schools to explore and offer insight into how various schools match your family’s priorities

Most importantly, if you want to apply to boarding schools, do not feel hindered by not being able to visit a campus in person. Every year there are students who research, apply, and matriculate at boarding schools without first having visited their campuses. These students go on to love their schools and thrive. Launching your boarding school search will allow you to engage in the personal growth that comes from goal-setting and will position you to take full advantage of your opportunities.

Krissy Naspo is a senior associate with The Bertram Group, based in Connecticut. She provides services for domestic and international boarding school candidates and those seeking therapeutic school placements. She can be reached at krissy@thebertramgroup.com