EduReviewerBlogWhat Do Private School Admissions Committees Look For
Admission Consulting

What Do Private School Admissions Committees Look For

Table of contents

Obtaining admission to a private institution can feel overwhelming at first glance, yet it is worth noting that an individual’s intellect, achievement, character, and background are taken into account in the admissions process. With competitive acceptance rates and various factors to consider, understanding what private school admissions committees look for can be instrumental in the process.

The key to a successful application involves more than just excellent academic records; it is a well-rounded profile that counts.

From understanding a student’s personal qualities to their potential for academic success, the best and the most expensive schools are interested in students who will be a positive addition to their community.

Here you can read some college admission consultants reviews online. We will explore several crucial factors that private school admissions committees typically look for in prospective students.

Academic Achievement and Potential

The phrase “Academic Achievement and Potential” in the context of private school admissions refers to a student’s demonstrated academic performance and the potential they show for future academic success.

This aspect is typically assessed through several measures:

  1. Transcripts

Transcripts provide a comprehensive view of a student’s academic history. They contain grades, classes taken, and oftentimes the level of difficulty of those classes.

Consistently strong grades in rigorous courses demonstrate a student’s dedication, intellectual curiosity, and ability to handle challenging workloads.

Also read: questions to ask law school admissions officers

  1. Standardized Test Scores

Many private schools require applicants to take standardized tests such as the SSAT (Secondary School Admission Test) or the ISEE (Independent School Entrance Exam).

These tests measure a student’s ability in key areas like verbal, quantitative, and reading skills. High scores can illustrate a student’s academic aptitude and readiness for the school’s curriculum.

  1. Teacher Recommendations

Recommendation letters from current teachers provide a first-hand perspective of a student’s academic abilities, work habits, and intellectual curiosity. Teachers can comment on a student’s participation, eagerness to learn, and ability to work both independently and as part of a team.

  1. Writing Samples or Essays

Many private schools require writing samples or essays as part of the application. Learn how to stand out in your college application on out blog. These writings allow schools to assess a student’s communication skills, critical thinking, creativity, and ability to express thoughts coherently.

In conclusion, “Academic Achievement and Potential” is about more than just grades or test scores. It is a comprehensive view of a student’s academic journey and their capacity to grow, learn, and succeed.

The key is not necessarily being perfect but demonstrating an upward trajectory and a sincere commitment to learning.

Academic Achievement and Potential

Personal Qualities and Character

Private school admissions committees want to see students who possess strong personal qualities and character traits that align with the school’s values and ethos.

Here are some of the qualities that private schools often value:

  1. Integrity and Honesty

Schools want students who demonstrate a high level of integrity and honesty both inside and outside the classroom.

These traits could be highlighted through instances where a student showed honesty in difficult situations or when they took responsibility for their actions.

  1. Leadership and Initiative

Leadership can be demonstrated in a variety of ways – from leading a club or a sports team, organizing a community event, or simply showing initiative in class projects.

Schools value students who can take the lead, motivate others, and make a positive impact.

  1. Empathy and Kindness

Empathy and kindness indicate a student’s ability to respect and understand others’ perspectives.

Schools look for students who display compassion, are involved in community service, or show care and understanding toward their peers.

  1. Perseverance and Resilience

Admissions committees value students who have demonstrated resilience in the face of challenges.

This could be academic hurdles, personal hardships, or any other obstacles. The ability to bounce back from adversity often indicates a mature and strong character.

Also read: learn what to do if college is not for you

  1. Curiosity and Passion

Schools are attracted to students who show genuine curiosity and passion for learning. This can be displayed through active class participation, the pursuit of knowledge outside of school, or a strong interest in a particular subject or field.

  1. Respect and Responsibility

Respect for others and responsibility for one’s actions are essential character traits. Students who respect their teachers, classmates, and school rules while also taking responsibility for their learning and actions are seen as valuable additions to the school community.

Remember, these traits can be showcased in various components of the application – essays, letters of recommendation, and interviews.

Authenticity is key, and schools can usually sense when students are genuine in their applications. It’s about showing who you are, not just telling. Demonstrating these personal qualities and character traits can significantly impact your admission chances.

Involvement in Extracurricular Activities

Involvement in extracurricular activities is a critical component of the private school admissions process. Admissions committees look for students who can balance academics with other interests, such as sports, arts, or community service.

Participation in these activities demonstrates a range of skills such as teamwork, leadership, dedication, and time management.

Involvement in Extracurricular Activities

While the breadth of activities can show a well-rounded student, depth in one or two areas can be even more impactful. It can highlight a student’s commitment, passion, and ability to achieve a high level of skill or knowledge in a particular area.

Here’s a table that outlines some recommended extracurricular activities and what they can indicate to an admissions committee:

Extracurricular Activity What It Indicates
Sports (e.g., soccer, swimming, basketball) Teamwork, discipline, physical fitness, dedication, leadership
Arts (e.g., music, drama, painting) Creativity, expression, dedication, discipline, perspective
Clubs (e.g., debate, robotics, language, environment) Interest in a specific area, leadership, teamwork, intellectual curiosity
Community Service (e.g., volunteering at a food bank, teaching kids, cleaning local parks) Empathy, responsibility, initiative, community engagement
Academic Competitions (e.g., Math Olympiad, Science Fairs, History Bowl) Intellectual curiosity, dedication, competitive spirit, expertise in a subject
Internships or Part-time jobs Real-world skills, responsibility, initiative, maturity

Remember, the quality of involvement often outweighs the quantity. It’s about something other than participating in every club or sport available but showing dedication and a deep interest in a few areas.

Admissions committees are interested in more than what activities you participated in but also what you learned from them and how they shaped you. It’s essential to convey these experiences and lessons in your application.

Good Fit with the School’s Values and Culture

Finding a good fit with the school’s values and culture is a crucial factor in the private school admissions process. Each school has its unique ethos, traditions, and expectations.

Admissions committees are interested in students who will not only thrive in their environment but also contribute positively to it.

Understanding a school’s culture and values requires some research. You can look at the school’s mission statement, educational philosophy, code of conduct, and even its traditions and events. Once you understand these aspects, you can then reflect on how your values, goals, and character align with them.

School Values/Culture How to Demonstrate a Good Fit
Academic Rigor Show strong academic performance and intellectual curiosity. Share your love for learning and desire for challenge.
Community Service Highlight your involvement in volunteer work and your commitment to giving back to the community.
Leadership Demonstrate instances where you’ve taken initiative or held leadership roles. Discuss your ability to inspire and motivate others.
Arts or Athletics Emphasis Showcase your dedication and accomplishments in relevant extracurricular activities.
Global Citizenship Discuss your understanding and appreciation of diverse cultures, languages, and perspectives.

In your application and interview, articulate why you would be a good fit with the school. Perhaps you share that the school’s emphasis on community service or its commitment to academic rigor resonates with your educational goals.

Demonstrating this alignment shows that you’ve done your homework and that you’re invested in becoming a part of the school community.

Good Fit with the School's Values and Culture

Interview Performance

The interview is a critical component of the private school admissions process. It’s an opportunity for the admissions committee to get to know the student beyond what’s written on paper.

Equally, it’s a chance for the student to get a feel for the school and ask any questions they might have.

When assessing a candidate’s interview performance, the admissions committee is typically looking for the following:

  • Articulation and Communication Skills;
  • Intellectual Curiosity and Engagement;
  • Manners and Respect;
  • Authenticity and Enthusiasm;
  • Preparation and Understanding of the School.

Overall, a good interview can leave a lasting impression on the admissions committee. It’s a chance to showcase your personality, passion, and readiness to contribute to the school community.

Therefore, it’s crucial to prepare well for this part of the admissions process.


Navigating the private school admissions process can be challenging, but understanding what admissions committees look for can significantly streamline your journey. From academic achievement and personal qualities to extracurricular involvement and cultural fit, it’s clear that schools seek well-rounded students who will thrive in their environment and enrich their community.

Remember, every school is unique, with its own set of values, culture, and expectations. Therefore, authenticity is paramount.

So, take the time to reflect on your strengths, interests, and values. Prepare thoroughly for each aspect of the application.

And most importantly, let your true self shine through. Because, in the end, the best fit is one where both you and the school feel excited about the potential partnership. Good luck!


Relevant articles

The Five Best Graduate School Admissions Consultants Reviewed

With more and more people going to college, the competition is greater than ever. Thankfully, there are lots of professional grad school admissions consultants to help the thousands of applicants with their applications. When once you could get into college with great SAT scores and a good GPA. Nowadays, colleges often have a more holistic…

Essays in College Admissions: Are They Important? Why?

As you prepare for the college admissions process, you’ve likely wondered how critical essays are to securing your spot at your dream university. It’s a common question among aspiring students and for a good reason. US colleges and universities receive over 35,000 applications annually, making admissions incredibly competitive. Did you know that the Harvard Crimson…


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *