The top 5 things to consider in the independent school admissions process

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Attending an independent school can be one of the most rewarding experiences for any student. Also known as private schools, these institutions offer the very best to their students, from providing world-class facilities to hiring expert educators in their fields. Above all, they aim to create an environment that brings out each child’s full potential — intellectually and socially.

The Cambridge School of Weston (CSW) is one such independent institution. Located in Weston, Massachusetts, CSW has been at the forefront of American educational excellence for young leaders in grades nine to 12 since 1886. Its open, inclusive environment makes it an ideal option for boarding and day students of all genders and races, forming a community that encourages growth, innovation, and social responsibility.

The Cambridge School of Weston

Finding a school that offers the best fit for one’s academic and social needs is crucial. Source: The Cambridge School of Weston

To ensure and maintain their high calibre, schools like CSW require applicants to go through a thorough admissions process. These help determine how well a student will fit into the school culture in a way that will help them thrive as growing individuals.

Here are the top things to consider when applying to an independent school.

Find your “fit”

Every independent school is different, each with its own culture, community, and academic programme. No two independent schools are the same — making it important to find one that best meets your needs, talents and goals.

CSW, for example, differs from other schools through an innovative Module System, which lets students take an active role in determining what their academic schedules look like. “It allows students an opportunity to dive deep into fewer subjects at a time,” shares Bobby Savino, Assistant Director of Admissions at CSW. “It provides students with the ability to follow their passions and interests, especially in 11th and 12th grade.”

A great way to help  determine the right fit is by paying a visit to a school’s campus. Can you see yourself walking to class or eating lunch in the cafeteria? International students will likely have to choose a boarding option — will you be comfortable living on campus? All of this will help you find the right school for you — and in many ways, for your family.

Form connections with the admissions/placement team

Each school has their own way to assess applicants. This means that before you apply for any school, you should find out the type of student they’re looking for and if you fit into that criteria.

Students who succeed at CSW, for example, are typically those who are bright-minded, intellectually curious, and creative thinkers. “One of the things that always amazes me about CSW is the underlying theme of kindness and inclusion,” adds Savino.

The best way to discover this is by reaching out to a member of the admissions team and asking them what they’re looking for in a student. This will help you get a sense of how you might fit into a school’s culture. You can contact the CSW admissions office by emailing admissions@csw.org, or giving them a call at 781-642-8650.

Don’t let any questions in your application form go unanswered

Filling out application forms can be a daunting process for some families, particularly if this is their first time applying to independent schools. They are often lengthy, with many questions that can take up a large portion of your time.

There’s a good reason for this. “We are assessing for school fit,” shares Savino. “That means academic fit, cultural fit, social fit. There are so many great independent schools in this area alone and they all exist for a reason. Each school provides unique opportunities for their students. If you are the true version of yourself throughout the application process, you give yourself the best chance of finding the right fit for you!”

When filling out your application, it’s key to make sure you answer every question listed, to the best of your ability. The more information you provide about yourself, the easier it is for a school to understand who you are. If you’re having trouble in this department, be sure to reach out to the admissions team — an existing relationship with them will help you with this!

Be aware of deadlines and specific requirements

Admissions processes differ across schools, which means you could be working with several deadlines. A school might ask for different forms of documentation that might take some time to prepare too.

If it helps, you could create a spreadsheet of all the schools you’re applying to and keep track of their key dates, deadlines, and individual requirements. Many schools, including CSW, outline deadlines and requirements clearly on their websites, making it easy to stay organised during your application process.

The Cambridge School of Weston

Allow yourself to shine in your application. Source: The Cambridge School of Weston

Above all: be yourself

It’s true that schools play a huge role in shaping the person you’ll become, all the more reason for you to choose one that will boost your future. However, it’s also an environment in which you’ll be spending almost every day of your year in — which means you should choose a school that makes you comfortable enough to be yourself.

The best way to determine this? Start at the very beginning and let your individual self shine in your application. “Don’t sell yourself, BE yourself,” says Savino. “Sometimes, students can get caught up in creating a different version of themselves in the application – a version that they believe schools want to see. The true value in reading the application comes when the student is genuine, using their own voice and speaking about their own experiences.”

If you’re interested in learning more about CSW, or applying in the near future, click here to fill out their inquiry form!

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