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Grades not perfect? You can still ace the boarding school interview!

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It is important to be genuine and speak honestly about your academic record.  The admissions team will be won over by your candor.  Importantly, best boarding schools will want to see that you acknowledge and own any scholastic deficits.  Tell them about your plan to take measures to remediate.  Stress that it is your challenge and you are taking the lead in solving it.  Perhaps already some new strategies you are implementing are showing results.  Great!  Share these as evidence that your initiatives are working.

Here are some constructive suggestions for having a frank and useful conversation with boarding school personnel, even if your grades are not tip top.


  • Mention the areas in which your grades are lackluster. Then speak about steps taken to ameliorate and how these interventions have yielded results. For example, perhaps you have cut down on time gaming or reduced social media time.  Maybe you have written a homework or study contract and have a teacher who is an accountability partner.  Are you charting study time and grade results?   Emphasize your ownership of the situation.  Outline your plans to improve.   Top boarding schools will be impressed by your initiative and follow through.


  • Demonstrate how you have honed your self-advocacy skills as a student in your quest to manage and resolve academic challenges. Maybe you have asked for seating in the front of the class.   Have you made note of the teacher’s office hours and made appointments?  Do you approach the teacher after class to ask for clarification of an assignment or what she would suggest to help you master the material?  Mentioning these tactics will help you to succeed in the boarding school interview.


  • You and your family should be clear that you are taking responsibility for addressing these academic challenges and not simply delegating everything to the boarding school to solve.


  • Be sure to highlight qualities of character, experience or academics that will balance any scholastic setbacks. For example, show how you have demonstrated curiosity or loyalty or persistence.  Have you organized a club or do you help out at a homeless shelter? The idea is to present a picture of yourself as a “whole student,” highlighting your attributes as well as owning any academic deficits.


  • Remember that top boarding schools are seeking students who can thrive in an independent living and schooling situation. Demonstrating that you are willing to take charge of your own scholastic outcomes will boost your candidacy.


Sara R. Schmidt

Global Field Supervisor

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