Applying to Boarding School: Campus Visits
Although you can glean a great deal of information from viewbooks, websites and videos, there is no substitute for actually visiting a boarding school. Boarding schools encourage, and often require, students to visit campus as part of the application process. Call the admission office to schedule a campus visit and interview. In order to learn as much as possible about a school, visit during an academic day. Visiting during a typical academic day will allow you to visit classes, take a tour, see the dorms, and talk with teachers, students, and coaches. If you can't make it to the campus for a visit, contact the admission office to determine if a school representative will be travelling to your area for an open house or gathering. Many schools have alumni/ae who interview applicants, and some schools will conduct telephone interviews, particularly for international applicants.
School Visits -- What to Expect
During a school visit you will be given a tour of campus. Current students often serve as tour guides for their school, and they are an excellent source of information.
The purpose of a school visit is for you to gather as much information as possible about the school. If you have any questions that were not answered by the school's website, video or printed materials, this is the perfect opportunity to obtain this information. Should you wish to visit a class or meet with specific people while on campus, such as a coach or teacher, it is a good idea to make this request when you schedule your visit. Often schools are able to accommodate last-minute requests, but it is best to know of your interests in advance.
What to wear? Since campus tours often require a great deal of walking, we suggest comfortable shoes and dressing for the weather. Students may want to consider a school's dress code in determining what to wear. If students at a school you are visiting are required to wear a coat and tie, then it would be appropriate for visiting students to dress as they do. However, if a school does not have a formal dress code, you may feel awkward dressing up. If you are unsure, it’s always a good idea to ask.
During the school visit, the admission office will schedule an interview. The admission interview is an opportunity for the admission officer to learn more about the applicant and for the applicant to learn more about the school. The role of the admission officer is to learn as much as possible about your interests and abilities in order to determine if you would be a good match for the school. The person who meets with you will probably take notes and will write up a short report about your visit. These notes will be shared with the Admission Committee.
Be sure to do your homework about a school prior to the interview. It is important to demonstrate your knowledge of the school. Admission officers will often ask why you're considering this school. You should be able to articulate your answer completely. Avoid asking for information that you can easily obtain by reading the viewbook or watching a video. Instead, ask about things that are important to you. Sample questions might include:
- What issues are students concerned about at this school?
- If I am having difficulty with a class, how do I get help?
- How diverse is the student body?
- How do you help students adjust to life in the dorms?
- What do students do on weekends?
- Parents may want to reconfirm application requirements and deadlines and ask about financial assistance.
Feel free to write questions in advance to bring with you and to take notes during the interview. If you are visiting several schools, you might need the notes to help you remember what was said at each school.
After the interview it is a nice touch to write thank you notes to the admission officer who interviews you. If they give you an e-mail address, an e-mail thank you note is appropriate.
This article was reprinted with permission from The Association of Boarding Schools
© 2004 The Association of Boarding Schools, All Rights Reserved
Reprinted with the permission of the Association of Boarding Schools. © 2004 The Association of Boarding Schools, All Rights Reserved.
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