Being prepared for boarding school interviews will set you apart and help you get into the school of your choice. Learn six ways to prepare for the student interview process.
Most boarding schools do want to meet face-to-face with the student applicant during the campus visit; however, international students will often meet via Skype or Zoom to handle their student interviews.
Remember the interview process is a “two-way street.” You want to make a strong impression, but you also want to gather key information about the boarding school. This will ensure that you are accepted to the school, but also that you choose the right school for yourself. Hopefully, you will be accepted to all three of your top choices, but this is not always the case.
The interview is often a big part of whether a school accepts a student. They want to assess your commitment level, whether you will be a contributor to the school community, and what strengths you bring to the table.
Not only will they be reviewing academic achievements, but they will want to know about extracurricular interests, special achievements, and your goals for the future. Here are 6 tips to help prepare for the campus visit and the student interview.
6 Tips to Prepare for Your Boarding School Interview
Prepare a List of Interview Questions
To be prepared, you will need to think of the questions the office of admission could ask you while your family goes on tour and/or during the student interview. There are questions in the section below, “boarding school interview questions” that will help get you started.
Prepare Questions You Would Like to Ask
Some of these questions below will probably be answered on tour, so check off the ones where you still need information during the interview. The Office of Admission will be impressed if you carry a small notebook on tour and check items off. It can be tempting to put your questions in notes on your cell phone device, but this could be misinterpreted and viewed as discourteous. They might just think you are texting friends!
As you prepare your questions, an easy way to organize them is by category:
Boarding School – Academics
- What is this school best known for academically?
- How does the school approach single-gender (or coeducation)?
- Do most of the faculty have graduate degrees?
- Do you offer college planning services?
- Do you offer tutoring services if I need some extra support in a subject?
- How does this school rank by comparison to other boarding schools?
- Where do graduates go to colleges and universities?
Boarding School – Student Life
- What do students like most about living on campus?
- Do some students get homesick? If so, what happens?
- How are roommates assigned?
- How close is the nearest airport/train/bus?
- What kinds of activities are offered on the weekend?
- What is the daily schedule? What events do you hold annually?
- Where do students come from (cities, states, countries)?
- Do students ever withdraw or get dismissed? If so, for what reasons?
- What are the school values? What do you mean by character development?
- What are the policies about drugs, alcohol, bullying, and hazing?
Boarding School – Athletics
- Who does the coaching here? Are they faculty members or staff members?
- What is the top sport here in terms of rankings? How about the most popular?
- Do you have sport try-outs or can anyone participate?
Practice interviewing with family or friends –
You will be amazed by how much better you perform by completing this exercise. Watch how you communicate: articulation, avoidance of words (“like” and “um”), eye contact, posture, mannerisms, voice volume, and inflection.
- Be courteous – Being on time, a firm handshake, making eye contact, and smiling are all part of being courteous. Also, it is important to be responsive to questions and to demonstrate appreciation for their time before departing campus. You might even consider sending a short thank you note after you return home.
- Dress to express and for success – Ask about the dress code before you schedule a campus visit to ensure you are dressed appropriately. Many boarding schools require uniforms, so showing up in a jacket and tie (for boys) and a jacket and skirt/pants with a simple scarf (for girls) often shows your commitment. Also, remember to shine your shoes, but wear comfortable ones (tours can often take a full hour and many campuses span a number of acres).
- Practice strong opening and closing statements – Open and close with a strong impression. This means that you need to practice how to introduce yourself briefly and then depart with a strong statement. For example, for your introduction, it might go something like this: “My name is Ben Smith and I am in the 8th grade at St.Catherine’s School in Anaheim.” For your close, you might say – “Thanks again for your time today. I really had fun going on the tour and I am very interested in attending your school.”
Boarding School Interview Questions
Here are some possible questions that could come up, but think about other ones as you contact schools and check their websites. Prepare a comprehensive list of the questions you think they might ask during the interview process.
- If you could name 1-3 things in order of priority, what do want to get out of a boarding school?
- When you think back on your life so far, what has been your greatest challenge? How did you address this challenge?
- Tell me about your college and career goals. What does your future look like?
- Have you ever taken the lead on a project or served in student government? If so, tell me about some of your accomplishments.
- What is your favorite academic subject? Tell me why.
- How would you describe your intellectual strengths and weaknesses?
- Do you have any thoughts about the kind of college you would like to attend?
- Have you given any thought to possible careers? If so, what ones appeal to you?
- What is your favorite club? If you could start a club, what would it be?
- What is your favorite sport? Describe a peak moment or achievement in athletics.
- Who has had the greatest influence on your life so far? Tell me about the impact this person has had on you.
- If you could name just one key lesson, what is the most important thing you have learned in life so far?
- What are your top three core values?
- What is one of your favorite books? When you think about the main characters in that book, who did you identify with most and why?
- Tell me about your interests. What do you like to do most?
- How would you describe your personality to a stranger?
- If you could pick a roommate, what kind of person would you like to live with?
- When you think about your life habits, where do you shine (e.g. organization, decision-making, time management, goal-setting, hygiene, nutrition, exercise, etiquette, communication)?
- After going on the tour of our campus, what did you like the best? Least?
- Do you imagine yourself succeeding here? If so, tell me three main reasons.
In summary, if you prepare questions in advance, practice interviews, dress appropriately, demonstrate good manners, and make a first and lasting impression, you will surely ace the interview process at boarding schools of your choice.
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