Filed underIndependent Schools
By: Dianne Fowler, Director of Admission at St. James Academy
We are fortunate in the Baltimore area to have a wealth of excellent independent schools, each having a unique mission and serving different kinds of students. Families who are considering an independent school often wonder how the decision is made by the school to admit a student.
When a student applies for admission to an independent school, there are many factors considered by the school’s admission committee. The school has the shared goal with the parents of making the best school match for each student.
Every school requires some type of admission assessment. This ranges from an individual test administered by school personnel to a standardized group test called the ISEE (Independent School Entrance Exam), the results of which can be sent to any number of schools at request of parents.
Next, the Common Referral Form (provided by the school to which the student is applying) needs to be completed by the student’s current Language Arts and Math teachers. This confidential piece of information provides teachers with an opportunity to communicate how the applicant has grown over the year as well as commenting on motivation, leadership, talents, and parental collaboration with the teacher and school on behalf of the student.
A student’s transcript accompanies the referrals and should include report card grades and comments, standardized test results, and other school performance information.
Additionally, a student and/or parent interview might be requested by the school. During this interview the admission team hopes to learn more about the student. They are interested in knowing why the family is considering their institution and what a student might bring to their community. It is important for the parents and older students to do some research on the school before visiting so they are prepared to ask questions about specific offerings that might interest them at the school.
Personal recommendations can be informative to the admission committee, but only if they are made by someone who knows the student well. Again, the goal of the school is to get the most information about the applicant to help make a good decision about admission to their school.
To maximize a student’s candidacy the family needs to understand and support the mission of the school to which they are applying. Admission officers speak the philosophy of each school and parents should be sure to ask the hard questions before they decide that this is the right school for their child.
Dianne Fowler has over 20 years experience in independent school admissions. She is currently the Director of Admission at St. James Academy, a leading independent, coed K-8 School in Baltimore County.