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How can I prevent getting waitlisted for boarding school?

Last updated: 
January 18, 2024

Since the pandemic’s peak, applications to many private schools, especially the most competitive boarding schools, are on the rise. As a result, many of these schools receive more applications from qualified students than they can admit, causing waitlists to grow. 

There’s no guaranteed way to avoid getting waitlisted, but these tips will help put you in the best position for admittance.

  1. Start the application process early and take it seriously. The more time you give yourself to schedule an interview and thoroughly complete the application requirements, the better. Follow our advice on how to get into private school for more detailed information.

  2. Take the SSAT when applying to test-optional schools. Quite simply, you won’t know whether your test results can help you gain admission unless you take the SSAT. This is especially important for students coming from public schools or those that don’t commonly matriculate students into your desired private school. Why? Because there’s no standardization to grades, so it’s difficult to predict whether students are academically prepared for the rigors of private school education from grades alone.

    If the cost of testing is a barrier, ask the school for an SSAT fee waiver.
  3. Apply to a diverse mix of schools. While it might not be possible to avoid waitlists altogether, the best thing you can do is to prepare for it. There are many outstanding private and boarding schools with less competitive acceptance rates offering high-quality educational experiences. Use our Private School Search to find more schools that meet your preferences, and read our Q&A on how many schools you should apply to for more considerations.
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