Despite facing record competition across the secondary school admissions landscape, this year’s graduating Shore students nonetheless stood out, consistently gaining acceptance to the region’s most selective independent high schools.
According to Director of Secondary School Counseling Sander van Otterloo, to say that students and families faced a challenging admissions environment this year would be a gross understatement. “Placement professionals at many peer schools used terms such as ‘unprecedented’ and ‘historically bad’ to describe this secondary admissions season,” he explains. “Virtually all secondary schools reported a significant increase in application numbers for the second year in a row, and the most selective schools in the country reported the highest increases in application numbers.”
Factors contributing to these trends were similar to the ones that pushed application numbers skyward in the previous cycle. Disenchanted by public schools’ handling of the pandemic, families turned to the independent school market in greater numbers. Families already in the independent system grew even more appreciative of and reliant on the independent school model. Most schools continued the test-optional policy for standardized tests, making selective independent schools seem more attainable. And virtual events enabled families to learn more about a wider swath of schools, encouraging them to apply to more schools.
As a result, says van Otterloo, for most applicants, acceptances—especially at the most selective schools—were more difficult to secure than ever before.
Yet Shore’s results remained as strong as always, and, in fact, notched a 10% year-over-year increase in acceptance rate—a remarkable feat given the pressures on the independent school market. Of 45 eighth and ninth grade graduates, five will attend Phillips Exeter Academy; four will attend St. Paul’s, Brooks, and Pingree; three will attend Pomfret; and two will attend Governor’s, Holderness, Phillips Academy Andover, and St. Mark’s. Other schools that will welcome Shore graduates this fall include the Cambridge School of Weston, Deerfield, Middlesex, Noble and Greenough, Proctor Academy, St. George’s, Suffield Academy, Walnut Hill School for the Arts, and Williston Northampton School.
These robust numbers speak for themselves, van Otterloo says. “In this unpredictable market, secondary schools place even more value on a Shore education and the relationships we have formed. They understand that Shore students will arrive prepared and that they will be a value-add to their respective communities.”