The 2015-16 application season was a remarkable success for Shore students, according to English teacher and Director of Secondary School Counseling Sander van Otterloo.
Historically, Shore students gain acceptances to 60-65% of the secondary schools to which they submit applications. In this most recent year, reports van Otterloo, "we saw the strongest application season for Shore students in a long time, with an acceptance rate of 72%." In other words, students were accepted at roughly three out of four schools to which they applied. (That figure does not include students for whom public high school was their first and only interest.)
Even more striking, he admits, is that Shore seems to be bucking a national trend: "Most of the top secondary schools are reporting record application numbers and narrower rates of acceptance, yet Shore's acceptances are up significantly."
Another highlight of the 2015-16 season, says van Otterloo, is the particular success of Shore's 9th grade applicants. "Two of our ninth grade students who had little success last year had incredible results this year. These two applied to a combined total of 10 schools, and were accepted at nine out of the 10." Worthy of note, he says, is that these students applied to and were accepted by many of the same schools where they were less well received the year before. "This proves the strength of our 9th grade program and the opportunities it affords for academic, social, athletic, and emotional growth."
While this year's ninth grade class was relatively small, the Class of 2017 at Shore looks to be larger than it has been in years, says van Otterloo. "During the 2015-16 school year, there was clearly a small core of students who, from very early on in the process, decided with confidence that they were going to attend the ninth grade at Shore, and that had the effect of creating a 'seed' within the student population. Some years you have an eighth grade in which everyone starts very quickly talking about how they're moving beyond Shore, and that can create a wave out the door. This year, there was a counter-wave of students who were very much committed."
Another trend van Otterloo noticed this year is something he calls "backyard boarding." "On the one hand, the number of students who will be going to boarding schools is up this year. Where we typically have about 50% of families deciding on boarding, this year it was 57%. But on the other hand, I would say we have a smaller percentage of students heading out of state, and a larger number tending to stay a little closer to home. I think that has to do with families placing real importance on the fact that they're able to go watch their child in performance, or an athletic competition, or have dinner on a random weeknight."
Van Otterloo sums up this secondary admissions season by noting another trend, one that gives him great satisfaction. "I was really pleased this year that we had students apply to a lot of excellent schools—and a lot of different style schools. At the same time, what makes me even happier is seeing a healthy number of our students actually decide to go to the school where they felt they would be happiest, rather than the school that perhaps was the 'best' on paper. That's something I always encourage families and students to think about: where they're going to find balance, where they're going to have the opportunity to blossom."
Working with students and their families to find that best match is core to Shore's secondary applications process. "We spend a lot of time with faculty to customize each student's search list, making sure it both has appropriate risk, and gives us confidence that the student will find a happy home. With the results we're seeing, we feel we've found the right approach."