Tips for a Successful Admissions Interview at LA

by Mia Gage ’20

Yay! You have made the informed (hopefully) decision to visit Lawrence Academy. We’re excited to meet you. For many prospective students, the application is straight-forward and not too stressful, but the interview can generate anxiety. In this post, I hope to relieve some of your stress.

A little background, I am a senior boarding student at Lawrence Academy and am in the process of interviewing at numerous colleges.

Mia Gage ’20

I have found that these interviews are incredibly similar to the interviews held at Lawrence. At LA, interviews are not interrogations, they are conversations. All of our admissions officers have one goal: To get to know you.

They are not scanning a transcript or resume throughout your discussion. No, they simply want to get to know you and find out why you believe Lawrence Academy is a good fit for you.

Be yourself

Perhaps the most predictable tip, but also, in my eyes, the most important. Your interviewer wants to see authenticity and get to know you for who you are. I remember in my interview, I spoke passionately about theatre and softball and the effect they have had on my life, but the majority of our conversation was about the importance of kindness. So simple, but clearly impactful. My message got across because it was true to me, and I was not trying to be what I thought the admissions staff “wanted” me to be. This is key. Lay yourself bare and just have a conversation about your values and what gets you excited to get out of bed in the morning.

Do your research

It is important to do your research on Lawrence Academy before coming to campus. When I say this, I do not mean you should prep for some sort of test; I simply mean that if you know a little about Lawrence Academy prior to your visit. That way, you will be equipped with informed and specific questions for your interviewer. Your visit to Lawrence Academy is not all about you proving yourself to us; it’s also about us proving ourselves to you. Your high school search should be about finding the school that feels like home for you. We hope you find this in Lawrence Academy, but we understand not every single student that tours will feel that resonance. This is why it is important to do your homework about any school to which you apply. I strongly recommend taking a campus tour, for it will help you get a sense of the community as well as answer all specific questions you have about academics, athletics, arts, and so on.

Be confident and acknowledge your accomplishments

During your interview, do not be afraid to “boast” a little bit. If you are exceptionally proud of something you have done, or anything about you, it is okay to want to acknowledge it and point it out in your interview. Your interview is your time to say what you may not say in your application; the conversation goes beyond a transcript. In your interview, you can show a different side of yourself. For example, you may speak about community service, clubs, extracurricular activities, values, etc. It is a nice opportunity to speak to what you are passionate about in a more detailed and fervent way.

Understand that there are no right answers

Lastly, be honest and true to yourself. Do not attempt to say — nor base your answer to a question — on what you think we want to hear. It is very clear when you are, and when you are not, speaking from the heart. We value every person’s voice at Lawrence Academy, and as our mission states, “Lawrence Academy recognizes you for who you are and inspires you to take responsibility for who you want to become.” We recognize every single prospective student for the individual they are, and we want to hear your story; who you are, and who you want to become. These things are unique to each and every one of you, and impossible to make up. Do not try to impress by giving the “right” answer, for it does not exist. Just give your answer. I promise it will be appreciated, and it will go a long way.  

It’s All New… It’s All Good

By John Bishop

Head of School Dan Scheibe told a packed Richardson-Mees Performing Arts Center (that’s RMPAC for you newbies), “It’s all new… It’s all good.”

An important message for everyone attending Athletic Preseason Registration to be sure; after all, each person in the building — parent/guardian or student-athlete — is preparing for another school year. Some boarding, some day. Some varsity. Some JV. Some nervous. Some confident. All (secretly) hoping they’re ready for an unknown 2019-2020.

However, there were the words on the screen: It’s All New… It’s All Good

Sad to be leaving home/student? NBD. It’s not goodbye. Instead, “It’s ‘Hello, until the next time we see you,'” said Mr. Scheibe. Nervous? Anxious? New or returning? “That’s good energy… Use it,” emphasized LA’s Head.

“I think what it’s really important to capture, and we’ll do this a few different ways while we’re still feeling new, is just that sense of renewal and energy that you get at the beginning of a school year,” he said. “And for those of us who have repeated that cycle — basically our entire lives — there’s nothing like it.”

However, the uniqueness of that cycle isn’t because of the required renewal. It’s unique because of what it anticipates.

“Yes, there’s a lot of new and different stuff happening, but… the most important thing that happens in a human’s life happens in a school year,” said Dan. “That’s developing your sense of who you are, becoming, we are going to become and getting this incredible sense of empowerment. “

Perhaps sensing the necessary juxtaposition between the Head of School before them, and the first-year students sitting in the audience, Dan brought out pictures of his own initial moments in prep school.

“At the same time [as we begin anew], we know we’re also becoming something else and somebody else,” said Dan. “So just to kind of make that point, please go to the next, uh, horrific slide.”

There stood young Dan Scheibe, like all new students, unaware of where he’d be 37 years later; carrying the benefit and the burden of “potential” – and, admittedly, all nerves in the moment.

“That’s the energy of you looking forward to something and about to become something,” said Scheibe, pointing to the teen in well-branded athletic gear. “There is a universality to it.”

So, whether it’s your first year at LA or your 38th, best wishes to everyone in the community during the 2019 – 2020.

Join Us for LA Reunion 2019

We’d love to see you back on campus!

Alumni, don’t miss our annual gathering on the Quad…

We’re calling back classes ending in “4” and “9”, but former LA students (and faculty) from all years are welcome to join us on Friday, June 7, and Saturday, June 8.

Join us!

Reunion registration, schedule, and info available here:

Want to see who is going to join us on Powderhouse Road?

Contact Caitlin O’Brien (978-448-1574).

See you soon!

Lawrence Academy Announces Graduation Speakers

Pamela Nwaoko ‘06 will keynote LA’s 225th commencement exercises

As the school eagerly anticipates Lawrence Academy’s 225th commencement exercises, we are excited to announce that Pamela Nwaoko ’06 will be Lawrence Academy’s 2018 Commencement Speaker.

Pamela Nwaoko '06

Pamela Nwaoko ’06

A member of LA’s Class of 2006, Pamela was born and raised in New Jersey to Nigerian immigrant parents. While in Groton, Pamela engaged in a diverse set of co-curricular activities, including directing a One Act play, founding of one of LA’s first affinity groups, working with students and faculty to develop the Cultural Coffeehouse Series, and, on the weekends, spending much quality time in the library.

After graduating from Lawrence Academy, Pamela attended Georgetown University, the University of Oxford, and Harvard Law School. At Georgetown, she was named a Top Ten College Woman by Glamour Magazine, a Goldman Sachs “Global Leader,” and she addressed her graduating class as a Senior Convocation Speaker. She attended Oxford on a full-tuition scholarship as a Healy Scholar and was recognized during Harvard’s Commencement Ceremony with the Dean’s Award for Community Leadership.

Ms. Nwaoko now practices law in Washington, DC at the multinational law firm Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom, representing and advising national and international financial institutions.

“I am excited for the opportunity to return to where my challenging, yet rewarding, educational journey began,” said Nwaoko. “I look forward to meeting the class of 2018!”

Head of School Dan Scheibe will lead the proceedings on June 1 on the Lawrence Academy Quad. Joining Pamela at the podium will be Class of 2018 president Gavin Slattery and peer-selected senior speakers AJ Mastrangelo and Jorie Van Nest.

Sean Sheehan ’87: Finding the Best Fit


Like most faculty on the Lawrence Academy campus, Sean Sheehan wears many hats: Director of LA College Counseling, history teacher, varsity football coach, assistant boys’ varsity hockey coach, and advisor.

To cap it all off (no pun intended) he is also an alum, having graduated in 1987.

It’s not about the job…

“I’d have to go back to when I was a student here,” Mr. Sheehan said when asked about his decision to become an educator.

“I was really amazed at how much time and energy the teachers invested in me, which made a huge difference in my development as a student.

“So, when I was in college and started to think about what careers might be attractive to me, I kept coming back to the impact that some of the adults in the Lawrence community had on me,” he said.

Mr. Sheehan remembers, as a student, “one of my former coaches coming over to my house during the summer to have dinner with my parents to explain how the whole college process would work, because no one in my family had ever gone to college.”

This action on his coach’s part stuck with him.

“I was like, wow, this person…this isn’t about his job, he really cares about people, and I think that’s where Lawrence Academy — if you go back to our mission — we really live it: we meet each kid where they are, and then really try to make them better, in all areas of their life here.”


Today, Sean finds himself coaching, teaching and providing the same level of guidance and encouragement he received from his coach so many years ago. In the process, he has witnessed and experienced his fair share of transformations.

“We had this one young man,” he recollected, “and I remember when he graduated, he was sitting on his bed crying.  And I said, ‘What’s up?’, and he said, ‘I can’t put into words how much this place has changed my life.’

“And if you’d known this student as a freshman; he was struggling in the classroom. However, through his hard work and the investment of the adults in him, he was a first-generation kid going to college—it completely transformed his life.

“So, I think that’s the cool thing when you get to see five hundred other stories like that,” he said.

In the college office, Mr. Sheehan emphasizes, “what we’re trying to have kids figure out is, what’s the best fit for you academically, socially, extracurricularly, and then let’s explore some options where you’re going to be able to continue your growth.”

The fact that Mr. Sheehan is also able to teach history and coach multiple seasons is something that he sees as a major asset to his work as a college counselor.

“When I get a student who becomes my counselee in the college office, most likely I’ve either taught that student or I’ve coached them, so I get to know them in a real genuine, authentic way,” he explained. “So, when it comes time for me to write about them and advise them, I’m coming from a position of really knowing the student in a much different, probably deeper way.”

Broadening Horizons

In a way, Mr. Sheehan has been able to connect his expertise in history, which he majored in at Bowdoin, to the kind of work that occurs in the college office; the two seem to complement each other well.

“I love thinking about the past and how it informs what’s going on in our world today,” he said. “But I think even more important than just history, as I often tell the kids, [is that] it’s a great way for them to learn how to write well, how to communicate well, and how to create arguments and back them up with evidence.”

Reflection, self-awareness, communication: in the college search, as well as in the classroom, it all goes into expanding and broadening student horizons.

by Allie Goodrich ’13

One in a series of occasional features on Lawrence Academy faculty…