The prep school world is in flux. The pandemic has affected the landscape for many schools and each one is handling it differently. Some schools are having record amounts of kids applying while others are struggling to keep the doors open. What does this mean for basketball players who are looking to apply to a prep school? Here is an update on this year’s application process from current prep school admission directors.
A director from a NEPSAC school says “applicants who demonstrate that they have found ways to adapt and turn the challenge of COVID into an opportunity stand out. Please don’t misunderstand, I empathize greatly with students during this crisis. However, it’s impressive seeing resilient students who are resourceful in their approach to hybrid academics, personal fitness, and keeping a positive outlook. Setting goals and staying focused is more important than ever.”
The head admissions officer from another NEPSAC school states, “we have waived the SSAT for this year but are asking applicants to do the Character Skills Snapshot. We are being flexible with and understanding that all students have had to deal with COVID differently, so we are looking at anything from this past Spring or Fall with a “COVID impact lens.” Through the Standard Application Online, our preferred application, there is space for families to talk about how COVID has impacted them which we find very helpful. Ultimately, we are curious about how students have handled such adversity over the past several months. This has been a central question to the interview process.”
An admission director from a Midwestern prep school is looking for students that are, “intellectually curious, have strong transcripts, impactful in co-curriculars (athletics/arts), a positive/supportive member of a community, willing to branch out and try new things, experience in external programs of distinction (internships, studying abroad, summer programs, etc.)”
One director from a prep school in the Southern United States says his “first instinct is to say that nothing has changed in terms of what we are looking for in candidates.”
Lastly, an admission director says, “it might or might not be consistent with other schools, but our enrollment has gone up. We have record numbers of inquiries, applications, and enrollments. So, I guess, we are in some ways more selective. Yet, on the other hand, we know that students are struggling with online classes or the inconsistency of things all around the world. Therefore, some grade reports are weaker than normal. Also, entrance testing is not accessible to many, so we’re being more flexible with that.”
While there are changes, some requirements stay the same. If a student can safely take a standardized test and earns a good score then use that on their application. If a student took the test and didn’t score well this is the right time to omit it from their application. Another tip is to show improvement. If a student’s grades were not great in 9th grade, but have shown improvement over their high school career, then that shows growth. Finally, the essays and interviews are still important. Check out this article on how to choose a prep school in the COVID era. The best advice here is to be an interesting kid.