How to make your H.K. daughter or son a strong candidate for a Top 25 US Boarding School

The Hill School

Recently, our Admissions Consulting team had the honor of listening to talk by a Top 25 Boarding School: The Hill School located in Pottstown, Pennsylvania.  The event was held at the Craigengower Cricket Club in Happy Valley, Hong Kong.  Unbeknownst to us, there would be an energy we didn’t expect by the hosts, (one of our student’s parents and trustee of the elite private school), an alumni from the institution and the Associate Director of Admission and Director of Financial Aid.

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Typically, we expect somewhat dry and less than exciting speeches given by the admissions team of any educational organization.  However, we were impressed by Chris Bala, the Associate Director of Admission, in addition to the other kind and insightful hosts at the event.

Chris Bala

Bala was a former professional Hockey player (the 58th overall selection of the Ottawa Senators in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft).  He also scored a 1290 on the SAT (under the former system where a perfect score would be a 1600).  Mr. Bala would have scored approximately 1935 under today’s test (which will be changing again here in March of 2016).

Harvard University

What was exciting for us wasn’t that Bala went to Harvard or even graduated from the Hill School in 1997, but instead, he gave us what most parents of future boarding school students want: the answer to how to make their children become viable candidates for one of the Top 25 Boarding Schools in the U.S., if not the world.  

Text transcript of a selected part of the above video: 

“We sort of call it an ‘engagement factor.’  What is the engagement?  How is a student going to student going to engage our [community]…what are you going to do? Right?  If we really want to get down and be sorta…what are you going to do?  At 3:30, we know that academics is going to be a part of every student’s experience.  Let’s call that from about 8:15 to about 3:15 or 3:30 on any given day.  Be it in classes, when the bell rings at 3:15 or 3:30, at my school, you’re not allowed to go back to your room to study.  You’re not allowed.  You have to go ‘do things.’  You have to get ‘involved.’  You have to make an impact.  Right?  That’s how you build relationships.  That’s how you build the experience.  At least, for myself, that’s what I took from my school.  I had a fantastic experience.  It’s the people. So, we talk about what a student’s going to do.”  

Bala says that approximately 1000+ students apply annually and there are potentially 160 spots that be available.  Of the 1000+, there are about 250 or so that might not have the grades or the standardized test scores, but there are 750 or so candidates who do.  The question becomes, “How does the small staff figure out which one of the 750 are deserving of the few spots that are available?

The answer, as you’ve read above, is showing how the student shows themselves in the interviews and proves they are “engaging.”  As we’ve preached and coached many students, it’s incredibly critical to also become very personable and active in your demeanor.  If you don’t have it after studying hundreds of books or millions of math formulas, you’ll want to come here to The Edge and get the proper coaching so that you will not look like a robot, but a vivacious young woman or man who has the potential to contribute to society with your critical mind.

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