Application Advice: An Alumni Perspective

By Jack Horsman ’18

It’s that time of year again. Another calendar year is coming to a close. There’s snow on the ground, Thanksgiving has come and gone. The holiday season is in full swing, and the New Year is fast approaching. However, while you enjoy this time with your family and break from school, don’t forget to complete your applications and send them in! I know that the process can be a little stressful. So, as someone who went through it (and succeeded in both being accepted and then graduating), here are seven tips to remember as you go through the steps before hitting submit.

Jack Horsman ’18 (on the right) posing with classmates during Registration 2018
  •  Practice for your interview

I know that being interviewed may be daunting, so that’s just all the more reason to practice! Have a parent, teacher, or any other adult ask you questions about yourself, your interests, and anything else that you think an admissions officer might be interested in knowing.

  • Do the research and ask questions

On top of practicing your responses to questions, get an index card, and write down some questions to ask your interviewer. They will ask you if you have any questions for them, and if you pull out an index card with a list, they will be very impressed! Go on the school’s website and do some research and jot down any question that comes to mind. Admissions officers love kids who are interested in the school, and by doing research, you are telling them that your interest is sincere.

  • Send thank-you notes

It’s old fashioned, but it works. Everyone loves being thanked. Your admissions officer will give you their business card, and your tour guide will provide you with their email. If either of them doesn’t, ask for it! When you get home, send each of them a thank you for taking the time to tour or interview you. They will be pleasantly surprised, and it will boost their impression of you.

  • Practice for the SSAT

Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but practicing something will help give you more confidence. This definitely applies to the SSAT. Don’t just show up on a Saturday morning and take the test. Prepare beforehand. Get a tutor, take a class, or at least take one or two practice tests. Knowing what to expect and having a better understanding of the material and how the test works will only improve your chances of getting a higher score.

  • Be polite and give your teachers plenty of time when asking them to write recommendations

You’re asking them to do you a favor. So ask them nicely if they would take the time to write a recommendation for you. They have busy lives, so writing recommendations isn’t their first-choice activity after a long day. Going along with that, make sure you give them plenty of time to write the recommendation. You want your teachers to talk about how great you are, but if you ask them the day before they’re due, they won’t be thinking very positively of you.

  • Make your essay interesting

Essays can be hard to write, but they are one of the most critical areas of your application. The essay allows admissions officers to see not only your writing skills, but you can also let your personality shine through. You only met with one admission officer for your interview, so the rest don’t know much about you. The Admissions Office receives hundreds of applications, which means reading hundreds of essays. Because of this, you should make your essay as interesting and unique as you can, so that it doesn’t become just another essay in their mind.

Jack reciting his poem during the 2018 Senior Poetry Slam.
  • Finally, be yourself

I know it’s a cliché, but clichés become clichés for a reason: they’re often correct. In your interview, in your essay, and in every part of the application process, let the best YOU show. Don’t try to be someone you’re not, because admissions officers can see right through that. They are interested in getting to know the real one because that is the student who will potentially be spending the next two, three, or four years on campus.

A couple of years ago, Jack was one of the student’s we asked to give some video advice for prospective families. It still rings true!