Well, it’s been quite a week of mixed emotions. Mid-March is the witching hour of first wave admission decisions for US boarding schools, and for leading day schools in major cities.

Along with my client families, I have been on tenterhooks awaiting school decisions. After years of chairing admission committees, and distributing the results, it is humbling now experiencing the nervousness felt on the other side of the equation. The loss of control over the process is tempered by knowing you have done everything you can do as a consultant to help students succeed. That is what it is all about.

In mid-March I am delighted to have helped students gain the following acceptances:


Connecticut: Ethel Walker School

Massachusetts: Berkshire School
Miss Hall’s School


California: Harker School, San Jose
Stratford School, Palo Alto

Canada: Two applicants to Canadian boarding schools on rolling admissions are awaiting decisions.

Now, on to the next season – which begins today! Many students may have been disappointed with the choices they have been left with. Other families are just beginning to look for next September as they have realized they want a positive change for their children.

So, research and choices have to be made in an encapsulated time. IECA consultants are ready to help. Feel free to call us.

We are approaching decision time for applicants to independent schools. The consultant and family school research, student visits, coaching, testing and interviews are all done. Now the wait is on. Most schools will be announcing their first round of decisions by mid March.

Admissions staff are reading and assessing applicant folders right now. With the increasing popularity of independent schools, the pressure to achieve the right mix and fit of successful applicants intensifies. I found reading the applicant files to be a joy in discovering each student’s uniqueness. The pressure came from rendering the decision when the competition was overwhelming.

When I was admissions director, I was always looking for talent. As an admissions associate at Choate Rosemary Hall School said to me in November on my visit there, “ We are looking for smart plus.”

The “ plus” is personal for the student, yet must fit the programs and values of the desired school. Both must mesh and fit. The great independent schools enroll a well-rounded class with multiple talents in evidence. Schools want star soccer players to star saxophonists. If they go together in one student – great – but that is very difficult to achieve, so they try to encapsulate excellence as a whole in a class.

At this period in late February, the educational consultant will be nearly as anxious as the family. Did he/she recommend the right school fit for the student? Did the consultant provide enough advice prior to the visits to help the student shine and stand out? Finally, did the consultant advocate clearly and effectively for the student with the admissions office?

March decisions will tell the story. Stay tuned. Stay calm. I wish the very best results to all applicants, particularly my clients of course!

I have just returned from a fascinating trip to Perth, Australia. En route I had excellent planning meetings in Hong Kong with my associate, Johnson Cheng. Seen here at dinner with my wife, Jean. We provide advice for parents in their school search.

From Hong Kong we travelled to Perth where I visited a number of fine schools. The school structure there is marked by a public-private partnership system. There are many single sex schools and some co-educational ones. With the far-flung nature of the Australian topography, boarding schools in cities provide great service to the country.

Tradition at the Australian schools very much came through the British influence in the country - just about all schools have formal uniforms, and cricket, rugby and rowing dominate the sports offerings. Academic standards are high, and tuition fees are very reasonable due to government grants to private schools.


I was particularly impressed by Sacred Heart College, a co-ed day school in the Catholic tradition: located across the road from the beach, the setting was spectacular. The other two schools I visited are also excellent. Scotch College is an International Baccalaureate (IB) school and was founded in the Protestant tradition, somewhat similar to the United Church of Canada. Hale School, a boarding and day school, is the oldest boys’ boarding school in Western Australia and was founded in the Anglican tradition. 

All of these schools are highly competitive for entry. It is the same everywhere - competition for the best abounds.

Jean and I were also able to enjoy a couple of Indian ocean sunsets!

I had a fascinating time last week touring just a few of the many excellent New England boarding schools, and ending with meetings at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. I am in close contact with the leadership there.

On the trip, I was able to reconnect with former colleagues at Berkshire School from when I was Dean of Enrolment and Head of School. You will see photos from a range of schools, including the individualized education for boys at the Woodhall School, to leading traditional boarding schools from Choate Rosemary Hall, Berkshire, Trinity-Pawling, Salisbury and the Gunnery to a highly regarded junior boarding school, Rumsey Hall.

It was great to see my former associate director at Berkshire, Matthew Woodhall, who has taken on the mantle from his parents, who founded the Woodhall School, of meeting boys where they are and nurturing them well. I was able also to spend a half day at Choate, one of the leading schools in the United States with a global brand presence, where I had excellent meetings. They were set up by Chris Reichart, a member of the Choate advancement office, and who I had the pleasure of admitting to Berkshire when I was there. Always good to see alumni doing well!

On this trip, I met many other staff from admissions offices. My knowledge of US schools, and the network of contacts I have there, enables me to advise families effectively who are looking to the United States.

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