Planning to visit boarding school campuses or attend an open house or two this fall? Here are three easy ways to maximize your visit and discover if the academic and social environment is right for you:
1. Chat with Current Students. There is no substitute for connecting with someone your own age who has already made the leap from public school to private school. They understand your fears, hopes, and expectations as you consider a new path. Connecting with current students will offer you a glimpse into the heart of the school, the daily routine, and a true account of what the classes (and dining hall food) is really like. You just may make a friend in the process—always a bonus when starting a new school!
If you are visiting over the summer or school break and are unable to meet up with a current student, ask your admission officer for the contact information of a student. At Cheshire Academy, plenty of current students work as tour guides or ambassadors for the school or live locally, and they are more than happy to answer your questions via e-mail, social media or telephone.
2. Attend a Class If you have a chance to visit on a school day, be sure to ask your admission officer how you can sign up for a class or two. You wouldn’t buy a car without taking a test drive, so why not take a few academic courses for a spin?
You may not know what the class is talking about right away if you join in mid-semester or in the middle of a novel, but be sure to watch how the students engage with the instructor—and each other. Take notes on how the classroom is arranged, who does most of the talking, and if the class participation is flowing. Does the content interest you? How does the teaching style and size differ from your current school? You can learn so much just from simple observation. You may even find yourself joining in on the conversation!
3. Imagine Yourself There. At a certain point, you have to stop viewing yourself as a spectator and truly try to picture your life at the school. Can you see yourself hanging out with friends on the quad on a sunny afternoon? Grabbing a soup and sandwich in the dining hall in between classes? Engaging the instructor in conversation as a class gets out? Scoring a goal on the lacrosse team on a crisp spring day?
It may be a stretch from your current routine, but if you can picture yourself being one of the many students you see walking across campus, then you might be in a place that could be a good fit. If you truly can’t imagine yourself in that scenario, keep looking at schools until you get that feeling—and if it’s the right fit at the right time for you.