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April 2008 Archives

Admission Season Keeps on Rolling

Admission deadlines have largely passed and while a select number of boarding schools are done for the season, many are shifting to rolling admission to fill their remaining spaces for next year.

Gaining acceptance during this second phase of the admission season is even more competitive since there are fewer spots available, but there are options. It's important to be mindful of the condensed process and go into it prepared to respond quickly to a school's admission requirements.

Brian wrote an article a few years back that tackles applying on short notice. In it he details what to keep in mind as you work through the process. If at all possible, he suggests working with an educational consultant. While professional consultants aren't inexpensive, they can be a tremendous asset when time is of the essence by helping a family with all phases their admission search.

Whether working independently or with a consultant, Brian offered a number of tips to think about as your navigate the admission maze. Among his many points are:

1. Have your critical student information ready before you begin your search. Collect your grades, test scores, report cards so you can avoid worrying about organizing the info when you're ready to apply to your schools of interest.

2. Build a student profile by asking the following kinds of questions:

In what type of school might you (the student) have the greatest chance of success?

What types of schools and activities are of interest?

3. Contact schools that look like good fits.

Ask the admission officers about "school fits" and what their opinions are given your academic and personal profiles.

Can the office make any school suggestions if they're full or aren't the right match?

4. Schedule campus visits and interviews. Even though the time-line is shortened, it's important to spend time on campus so you can get a sense of how you might respond to the school's culture.

Check out the article to read more of his suggestions for applying to a boarding on short notice and, of course, good luck with your search.

Boarding Schools News is back!

Before we turned to blogging, AQ published The Prep School News (an e-newsletter). Each edition featured a popular section of links that showcased school-related articles from around the web. We decided to bring it back as a regular onBoarding Schools series.

Moving forward we'll use this space to post links to news articles about schools, the admission process and other interesting items. As always, we invite you to e-mail us links to articles and we'll do our best to include them in future entries.

Boarding School News:

This weekend's New York Times featured two elite South Korean schools and their mission to prepare students for US colleges & universities.

St. Andrew's-Sewanee School bids farewell to its long time head of school.

Google highlights Besant Hill School's (formerly Happy Valley School) move to google apps.

Time Magazine interviewed two Thacher School students for their article on getting off of the college waitlist. Brian will write a bit more about this piece-- some nice connections to articles we've published on being waitlisted at a private school.'s Rob Kennedy compiled a list of books that provide "an inside look at private schools."
Intense, high-level athletics have always fit well and been part and parcel of boarding school cultures and missions. Students share a focus, schedule, purpose and intensity that results only from living and sharing space together. Working hard, playing hard and learning to be disciplined build personal traits, bonds and experiences that last far beyond high school.

The feelings of boarding school alumni always prove clear and intense. These thoughts and experiences shine brightly in an ESPN The Magazine article (There's Something About St. Mary's) about the boys hockey program at Shattuck-St. Mary's School where boarding school meets dedication to hockey.

Here's and excerpt with former SSM student and current NHL star Sidney Crosby:

Lifetime memories are made of stuff like this. Crosby spent only that one year at SSM, but he says it changed his life: "It was my first experience away from Nova Scotia, and I had to catch up academically. I struggled with it at first. But I loved the atmosphere. You can have friendships wherever you play, but at Shattuck, you lived together, went to class together, traveled and played together. You get to know each other--everyone--a lot faster and a lot better. Leaving Shattuck was the hardest decision I've had to make."

Visit Shatuck-St. Mary School's web site to learn more about the school and it's impressive hockey tradition.
Thumbing through education blogs this morning, we stumbled on some thoughts written by a Tabor Academy student as he nears graduation. Trying to sort and sift the meanings and contributions of boarding school to his growth, he reaches the conclusion that we too have reached. Boarding school isn't a special panacea; it's rooted in relationships.

However, looking closer it is not the boarding aspect or the kids that I am surrounded by but it is the faculty that really set Tabor apart. The fact that I am surrounded nearly twenty four seven by enthusiastic, motivated, dedicated, and extremely knowledgeable has changed me in a much stronger way then I could have imagined. After being forced to interact with healthy and positive adult role models I have become much more confident when I interact with an older individual. Whenever I give a tour I can make an immediate connection with the parents of the prospective student. In an interview for college I am confident that I will be able to formulate my ideas and get myself across to my interviewer.

You can read the entire piece at his blog, The Almighty Bouch.
In Part II of our conversation with Mark Sklarow (Executive Director, Independent Educational Consultants Association), he talks about the history and current state of consulting- how it's evolved and what consultants do today.

Question (Q): Tell us a bit about the history of educational consulting- it's beginnings, where it stands, and the future.

Mark Sklarow (MS): Consulting first appeared 30 years ago and for quite some time was a field practiced by only a few dozen specialists with extensive knowledge of the boarding school world. This began to change about 15 years ago when many consultants began adding college consulting to their work. Five years later LD counseling and assistance with students exhibiting emotional and behavioral difficulties also grew. During this time IECA recognized that it was critical that we as an association establish stricter standards, promote training and education and raise the level of knowledge and competence of members. As the field grew both in demand and the number of consultants, increased emphasis on ethics became central to the IECA mission.

Q: How has the industry changed with the rise of the Internet? How have consultants adapted?

MS: The rise of the internet has led across the board to a decline in intermediaries: web users are less likely to need the help of librarians; they go to the source- less likely to need the help of a salesman as they make purchases online; they are even less likely to seek medical advice for small matters, consulting the web.  

This same trend is clear in all areas of school admission: why seek advice when I can open web sites for schools? The answer should be clear: the thousands of matches for boarding experiences, tens of thousands of matches for school admission and the general glut of information has left families more confused, not less. However the role of consultants is evolving. They are no longer intermediaries. Rather, they act as guides, advisors and coaches to help steer families through the hundreds of thousands of information bits to the real, critical information that will serve their needs and the needs of their child.

Q: National internet based consultancies-- how do they work? Any changes in the way consultants works with a family? Are they using tools like web sharing, Skype, etc to bridge the distance gap?  

MS: The basic should remain unchanged: all consultants whether web-based or seen across the kitchen table should be experts who can gather as much information as possible about a student and family and use their years of knowledge and experience to distill information down to what is most useable and the best-possible matches to serve a student's academic, emotional, social and community needs.

Q: Are there any obvious trends into which the industry is moving or trends that are shaping the industry?

MS: Yes, as the field grows, we see a growing specialization of members, especially as it relates to students with special needs: gifted, LD, emotional, behavioral and more. Increased specialization to include practices with increased knowledge of art, music, and athletics is now becoming apparent. Consultants also must know more about public schools, charter school and for-profit institutions in their own community.  

Another differentiation we see is in how services are delivered: in person, internet, evenings...and how fees are assessed: hourly, as a package of services, even as a part of an employee compensation plan. Through it all a major requirement is for consultants to become more knowledgeable, continuing their education and training both in formal settings and through campus visitations.

We want to thank Mark again for participating in our Q&A series. Drop us a note if you have ideas for future Q&A posts.

Mark-Sklarow-IECA.jpgMark Sklarow, Executive Director of the Independent Educational Consultants Association was kind enough to sit-down with us and talk about educational consulting from a couple of perspectives.

In our first of two posts, our questions and his comments address how and why families come to educational consulting and the roles and contributions of consultants in a family's school search.  In our second conversation installment to be posted in the coming days, Mark talks about the history and current state of consulting- how it's evolved and what consultants do today.

Question (Q): Describe why a family might want to consider working with an educational consultant?

Mark Sklarow (MS):
Not all families need a consultant. Some families know exactly where a student would like to attend and have solid reasons to believe admission is fairly certain. Sometimes a family is looking for a secondary placement from a junior boarding school where many students move on together and the feeder school has well advised the family on the next step.  

For many others selecting a school- whether a traditional prep school or a school specializing in students with learning, emotional or behavioral issues- is not easy or clear. A consultant knows schools in depth: their teaching philosophy, their social milieu, strengths and weaknesses, approach to arts, music and sports, and so much more. Other families smartly wish to cast a wide net: examining many possibilities in many communities before settling on a handful of "best matches." Choosing a consultant is your best assurance that a student is well-suited to a particular school where a child will thrive.

Q: Families bring different situations and needs to the table-- can you talk about the various type of consulting services available to families?

MS: Consultants offer a wide variety of services and specialties. Some have extensive experience in working with students who learn differently and need a school where accommodations can be best integrated into a student's instructional plan. Other consultants have 20 years in working with students who need to work on behavior issues ranging from substance abuse to oppositional/defiant actions before a more traditional school is possible.  

What is so clear is that every family situation, every student's personality and academic needs are different. A great consultant is one who get to know and understand your family, the student and can suggest appropriate testing, provide needed advice and creative ideas and place the student first to ensure a successful match and a positive educational and social experience.

Q: What added value does a consultant bring to an educational decision?

MS: A consultant adds value by saving a family time, energy and expense that comes from tracking down every possible school placement option among the hundreds of schools that are possibilities. A consultant can focus in on the most appropriate possibilities so that school visits are made only when appropriate. "Wrong" choices often result in mid-year transfers, lost credits, lost tuition and a loss of self-confidence. A consultant seeks to ensure a good match, decreasing the odds of such disappointments.

Q: What role does the IECA play in the educational consulting community and what does a family need to know about the IECA?

MS: For over 30 years, the IECA has been the most respected voice in educational consulting. Our ethical guidelines, high standards and required training have led our members to be leaders in the field, working with virtually every school admission office in the United States. When working with an IECA members families can be assured their consultant is knowledgeable, ethical, and well-respected by schools and their peers.

Coming soon in Part II of our conversation: "Mark Sklarow talks about educational consulting from the perspective of an industry leader"
Final Four- boarding school flavor

If you follow NCAA men's basketball, you might notice a small, steady- but large, in a disproportionate sense- number of high caliber basketball players whose biographies include boarding school. This year is no exception.  

Quietly and very well, boarding schools have been educating students destined for NCAA Division I basketball programs- especially the New England schools that play in the upper two basketball divisions- Classes A and B.

On first thought, this practice garners a "huh?" But, it makes good sense and provides a great opportunity for players.

Every New England Class A and B boys basketball team, usually contains a handful or fewer players who will move from their boarding school to an NCAA division I program each year. This year three players with boarding school experience are in the Final Four:

UCLA's Aflred Aboya who attended Tilton School.

Kansas' Brady Morningstar attended New Hampton School and Sasha Kaun is a graduate of Florida Air Academy (for more on Sasha Kaun check out this recent Yahoo! Sports' article).

A quick read through some men's NCAA Division I rosters yield several boarding schools. Here in Mississippi, you'll find Kodi Augustus at Mississippi State. He did a PG year at Maine Central institute.

You'll find players of this caliber attending each of the NEPSAC class A and B schools. Many of these students attend boarding school to improve their academic preparation and gain a wealth of other benefits along the way- the consistent boarding school structure, study skills, small classes, academic focus, test preparation. The high caliber of basketball contributes to the deal.

Then, you get to the obvious question, why do boarding schools have these high caliber athletic programs? First, basketball is not alone. Boarding schools have collegiate caliber athletes across the board. Men's and women's hockey is very strong in boarding schools. From Class A and B basketball, schools get a strong winter program which can help provide a rallying point during a long winter and a higher athletic profile.

You'll even hear Dick Vitale mention a boarding name when excitedly talking about a kid. Dickie V. and his colleagues usually garble the school name; they always say "_____ prep" even though prep or preparatory isn't in the school name of nickname.

There's nary a school out there that wouldn't like to hear its name mentioned on a national telecast on winter afternoon or during the Final Four.  

On To the NBA (post collegiate)

Several boarding school collegians have made their way into the NBA. We've begun a list of players and their schools and hope to add to it over time. Here's a partial list:

Carmelo Anthony, Oak Hill Academy
William Avery,  Oak Hill Academy
Caron Butler, Maine Central Institute
Sam Cassell, Maine Central Institute
Francisco Garcia, Cheshire Academy
Josh Howard, Hargrave Military Academy
Jarrett Jack, Worcester Academy
DerMarr Johnson, Maine Central Institute
Rashad McCants, New Hampton School
Brad Miller, Maine Central Institute
Cuttino Mobley, Maine Central Institute
Rajon Rondo, Oak Hill Academy
Craig Smith, Worcester Academy
Jerry Stackhouse,  Oak Hill Academy
Marcus Williams,  Oak Hill Academy

Direct to the NBA
With the changes in NBA position several boarding school students have moved directly from high level prep school basketball directly to the NBA. Boarding school contributes structure and maturity and, if the player possesses the athleticism and ability, he can move directly to the hyper competitive adult world of the NBA. Players recently moving from boarding school to the NBA include:

Andre Blatche, South Kent School
DeSagana Diop, Oak Hill Academy
Stephen Jackson, Oak Hill Academy
Josh Smith, Oak Hill Academy
Dorell Wright, South Kent School
Korleone Young, Hargrave Military Academy
I'm not young enough to be a MySpace, Facebook, YouTube junkie.  I peruse them on occasion when I have reason to find a page or I'm directed to them.

But, as we all know, our students spend gads of time in these domains; on-line networking and spaces are important to them; and they want them to have as many features and the best ease of use possible.

Enter the young and innovative minds of Cheshire Academy (Cheshire, CT).  Jesse Youngblood, an AP computer science student at Cheshire, turned improving YouTube video sharing into an independent study project. She received guidance from Cheshire's computer science teacher Sue Heintz and worked with a local software firm, Gridlock, LLC, to research "the distribution of video via the internet to be played back on regular televisions." Reps from Apple traveled to Cheshire to meet with the team and expressed interest in adding it to their line of mobile media devices if they could produce the product in short order.

Working on deadline, the Cheshire students had to complete and deliver a working application by summer's end 2007.  Jesse wrote the Mac OS version while  AP computer classmates Alex Catullo '08, Sen "Forest" Fang '09, and alum Praveen Savalgi '06 worked on the Window's version.  Ms. Heintz did the testing.

The resulting application is Tooble--a device that "allows users to browse, search and easily download video from the phenomenally popular YouTube website to mobile media devices like the video iPod, iPhone and AppleTV."

Tooble received staff pick status at and has been reviewed by

Visit and download tooble at  You can also read the Cheshire team's reports from their MacWorld trip by visiting the school's news room or watch this video they posted on Youtube:

So often it seems that we lose track of schools located in unique locales. Visiting Worcester Academy in Worcester, MA, I found myself thinking "when was the last time that I found myself on the campus of an urban boarding school?" Maybe never?

Worcester is a good sized school- 600 total students with an upper school boarding program of 150 and urban it is. Worcester relishes its urban setting and makes the city of Worcester's cultural institutions part and parcel of the lesson plans.

Using the surrounding museums, architecture and cultural resources, Worcester faculty take their students beyond the classroom holding classes in neighboring cultural institutions. Rather than the occasional day long field trip into the city- bookended by bumpy, noisy, and bouncy rides on a yellow 44 passenger school bus- Worcester students enjoy and benefit from a succession small, regular, city experiences.

Susanne Carpenter, Worcester's Director of Admission, explains how the Worcester Art Museum Museum becomes the classroom for students.  

"Students taking the upper school elective "Thinking Like Leonardo" explore the nature of the creative process by studying Da Vinci as a creative thinker, scientist, artist, engineer and inventor. A portion of the course is dedicated to understanding the power of one's senses and how Da Vinci explored his world through his various senses. To bring this concept to life, students head downtown to visit the Worcester Art Museum for "Flora in Winter" when the Museum comes alive filled with floral displays by skilled artisans from across New England.  Students are exposed to a rich feast for the senses by exploring the sites and smells of these creative floral artistic interpretations as well as the contrast of the museum's rich art collection. "

At Worcester the vibrancy of urban community is part of the experience. Check out the school's web site to learn more.

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About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from April 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

March 2008 is the previous archive.

May 2008 is the next archive.

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