When it comes to applying for study abroad, British and American schools’ official websites generally recommend you start applying one year in advance. This is so you can successfully submit the application materials by the deadlines to make sure your enrollment is successful. However, if your child's goal is the same with Alex it is another matter entirely. It was possible to only set aside one year for Alex's school application, but Fay School, which ranks No. 1 in the US for junior boarding schools, has very high requirements. As a result, in order to impress the admissions officers, he spent far more than one year to prepare his application.
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Student Basic Info
Domestic School：No.2 High School of East China Normal University
Admitted US School：Fay School
Consultant Evaluation：Alex is very fond of reading books and his knowledge is also very widespread, making him a good match for Fay School. Fay School also likes to admit students who have straight A’s in all their classes and who love to study. As a result, Alex and Fay School are a very appropriate match.
BE’s First Impression of Alex
Alex and his family first reached out to BE Education when he was in Grade 3. His parents had very clear goals, which was to have Alex study in an American junior boarding school. After a preliminary evaluation, Crystal, from BE Education thought that his overall level of English was quite good, but still needed to be improved.
How Alex Became a Top Candidate
Step 1: Improving Alex’s English
Therefore, Crystal asked Alex to write an English essay or report every week and then had one of BE’s foreign consultants edit his work. This helped him improve his English to become more and more like a native speaker. In addition, in order to create an English immersion environment for Alex and allow him to learn from different people, Crystal arranged for him to work with different foreign consultants every week.
Due to Alex’s love for reading, consultants and teachers from BE Education also recommended many good English books for him to read. Since Alex had read so many more books than his other third grade peers, this laid a great foundation for impressing admission officers from Fay School.
Step 2: Broadening Alex's Horizon
However, only having good English is definitely not enough to impress the admission officers from the best US junior boarding schools. Students should also be aware of what US schools are like, and let admission officers know they will be able to adjust to studying in America. The best way for students to experience US schools is for them to attend summer courses in the US.
Alex has attended many American summer courses, including Cardigan Mountain School, Eaglebrook School and Johns Hopkins University's Center for Talented Youth.
These summer program experiences broadened Alex's horizons and gave him an opportunity to practice his English and communication skills, as well as improve his academics, which paved the way for his later application.
Step 3: Volunteering with the Youdao Foundation
Apart from Alex's excellent academic grades, his volunteer experience with the Youdao Foundation was another important way he impressed admission officers. The Youdao Foundation is a charity organization which partners with BE education. For many Sundays in a row, Alex, led by teachers from BE, went to the Qingpu District in Shanghai to help children learn English. He also helped them do other activities such as singing and drawing. Due to his strong sense of social responsibility, admission officers held him in high esteem.
In addition to all Alex gained from volunteering with the Youdao Foundation, he was also able to get to know many of the children at the foundation and meet many other BE students who were also planning to study abroad or were already studying abroad. Two of the students he met are current students at Fay School and Cardigan Mountain School. These two students were able to give Alex some idea of what each of the schools was looking for in an applicant.
Application Preparation: Essays + School Visits
After many years of preparation, Alex started to apply for the best US junior boarding schools after he returned from the Cardigan Mountain School summer program in July 2016. Crystal helped him apply to 10 US junior boarding schools based on Alex's grades and opinions.
Two required parts of a junior boarding school application are application essays and interviews. At that time, each school required around 2 or 3 essays. By August, Alex finished almost 30 essays with the guidance and help of BE teachers. In addition, BE teachers also gave him specific interview training based on analyses of each of his schools' applications.
At the end of October, Alex visited each of the schools he applied to accompanied by a BE foreign consultant. During his trip, Alex showed off his own phone gaming app to every schools' headmaster. He designed this gaming app by himself and although it is not complicated, after playing and examining the app, the admission officers were still very interested in it.
Extra Steps Taken to Improve Alex’s Candidacy
After the school visits, it was the time to wait for his application results. However, Crystal was not satisfied with just sitting around and waiting, so she made great efforts to increase Alex's possibility of getting an offer from his first choice school.
Crystal's coworker Frances first called the schools to inquire about the schools' impressions of Alex. While Eaglebrook gave a positive review of Alex, they were not sure if they would be able to give him an offer. However, Fay School showed much more interest in Alex.
As a result, Frances suggested Alex choose Fay School to focus on. He wrote a special letter to Fay School clearly stating that Fay School was his first choice, and he would definitely go to if the admission officers were willing to give him an offer.
American junior boarding schools often communicate with each other. As a result, if you send two schools a letter telling them they are your first choice, you may be rejected by both schools. This means you must consider your schools carefully and only let one know they are your first choice.
Summary of Alex’s Journey
From third grade to seventh grade, Alex's application process in total lasted four years, which resulted in vast improvements in his English level, opportunities to participate in summer and winter camps, volunteering activities etc. Additionally, while TOEFL and SSAT scores are the most basic requirements for studying in top ranked US schools such as Fay School, admission, mainly depends on the child's personality and if they are a good match with the schools' requirements.
Finally, after four years, Alex finally did it!
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