The Standard Application, provided by the SSAT, facilitates the process of applying to multiple private schools for grades 6 through the PG or postgraduate year by using a common application. There is a standard application online that applicants can fill out electronically. Here is a breakdown of each section of the application and how to complete it:
Part One: Student Information
The first section asks students information about themselves, including their educational and family background, and whether or not their family will be applying for financial aid. The application also asks if the student will require a Form I-20 or an F-1 Visa to enter the U.S. The first part of the application also asks whether the student is a legacy at the school, meaning that the student’s parents, grandparents, or other relatives attended the school. Many schools offer a relative advantage to legacies in comparison to similar non-legacy students in admissions.
Part Two: The Student Questionnaire
The student questionnaire asks the applicant to complete the questions on his or her own in his/her own handwriting. The section begins with a number of short questions that usually ask the student to list her present activities and her plans for future activities, as well as her hobbies, interests, and awards. The student may also be asked to write about the reading she has recently enjoyed and why she liked it. This section, though short, can allow the admissions committees to understand more about the applicant, including her interests, personality, and the subjects that excite her. There is no one right “answer” for this section, and it’s best to write honestly, as the school wants to make sure applicants are a good fit for their school. While it may be tempting for a hopeful applicant to write about her compelling interest in Homer, admissions committees can usually sense insincerity. If a student really likes ancient Greek epics, by all means, she should write about her interest in honest, vivid terms. However, if she is really interested in sports memoirs, it’s better for her to write about what she really reads and to build on this essay in her admissions interview. Remember that a student will also go through an interview and may be asked about what she wrote on her admissions essays. This section of the application also allows the student to add anything he or she would like the admissions committee to know.
The student’s questionnaire also requires the applicant to write a 250-500 word essay on a subject such as an experience that has had an effect on the student or a person or figure the student admires. Writing the candidate statement can be difficult for students who have never completed this type of essay before, but they can write the essay over time by first starting to brainstorm about their meaningful influences and experiences and then outlining, writing, and revising their essay in stages. The writing should be produced by the student, not by the parents, as admissions committees want to understand what the student is truly like and whether the student would be a good fit for their school. Students generally do best at schools that are right for them, and the candidate statement allows students to reveal some of their interests and personalities so the school can evaluate whether the school is the right place for them. While it is again tempting for the student to try to appear to be what the school wants, it is best for the student to write honestly about her interests and thereby find a school that’s appropriate for her.
The Parent’s Statement
The next section on the standard application is the parent’s statement, which asks the parent to write about the applicant’s interests, character, and ability to handle private school work. The application asks whether the student has had to repeat a year, withdraw from school, or has been put on probation or suspended, and it is best for the parent to explain the situations honestly. In addition, the more honest, though positive, a parent is about a student, the better chance the student will have to find a school that’s a good fit.
The application concludes with forms filled out by the applicant’s school, including a recommendation by a school head or principal, an English teacher recommendation, a math teacher recommendation, and an academic records form. The parents sign a release and then give these forms to the school for completion.