Every year after Labor Day, the admission office starts to get busy with families interested in having their sons or daughters attend boarding school. Oftentimes we receive calls or e-mails from parents wondering about the admission process, what their child should wear when he or she visits, and what the interview will be like, and we are, of course, happy to help parents with these questions.
Prior to visiting, it is important that families carefully read the school’s viewbook and website. There is a considerable amount of information on most schools’ websites, and it is actually a good idea to take notes from each site so as not to be overwhelmed after taking in so much information. The nice thing about reviewing websites and taking notes is that this process will give the student and his or her parents an opportunity to talk about what each of the schools has to offer. Keeping notes will help students to formulate a list of questions to ask during their school visits. Some questions will be general and will be asked at each school while others will be school specific. It will be important to have a list of questions to ask as it is not always easy for students to think of questions while they are on each school’s campus. Asking questions shows an admission officer that the student and family are interested in the school.
It’s also important that a student dress appropriately for the interview. Searching a school’s website for pertinent information about academics, sports, the arts, etc. is an ideal time also to notice the dress code of the school. When a student visits a school for an interview, it will be important that the student is dressed appropriately. If it isn’t easy to determine a school’s dress code, it is easy to call the admission counselor at the school and ask about the dress code. After all, on an interview, one wants to fit in.
When preparing for a visit and an interview, certain social mores also need to be addressed, and some may need more attention than others depending on the student. Parents should take time to practice interviewing with their child. Ask a variety of questions, and give your child a chance to respond. At first, his answers may be short or vague, but through practice, a child can learn to give solid, thoughtful responses. Parents should also reinforce the importance of a strong handshake. A student should be friendly, maintain good eye contact, and be interested in the interview.
This calls to mind etiquette on the tour. Having just written that a student should be interested in the interview and the visit in general, it is important to mention a few dos and don’ts during the visit. Whenever possible, the student should walk with the tour guide, and students and parents should let the tour guide lead. A student should ask thoughtful questions at appropriate times and should listen carefully to the answers. Parents should also listen to the tour guide and not talk too much. The tour is really the time for the visiting family to learn as much as possible about the school, and the tour will be very helpful. Students should not use their cell phones during the entire visit, and parents would be setting a good example if they, too, did not use their cell phones.
Lastly, it is important to understand that every admission office may run differently. Some schools may first interview the student while others may start with the tour. It’s a good idea for parents to call the admission office to ask about the visit, and it is helpful if parents keep the specific needs of their children in mind when talking about the visit and helping them to prepare for it. The visit and interview should be a good and positive experience and being proactive will help them to be so.