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Interview about getting into school: Clayton Johnston

Clayton Johnston, Director of Admissions at Brentwood College School, shares insights about getting into private school

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Clayton Johnston is Director of Admissions at Brentwood College School, a boarding school in Mill Bay, BC.

We asked him several questions related to the issue of how to get into private school. We covered topics such as what schools look for, interviews, and grades. Here’s what he had to say.

For more expert advice on a wide range of questions related to “getting in,” read our comprehensive guide. For valuable insights on the more general question of choosing the right school, read our in-depth education expert and parent interviews.

Q: How can parents and students prepare for the interview? What should they know going in?
A: I love it when families arrive with a whole list of questions. It shows they have been thinking about things and are willing to ask some tough questions. The best way to prepare is to spend some time thinking about what it might be like to live at a boarding school and then write down some thoughts and questions. In terms of the interview, we are really concerned about three things: Is it the student’s choice to be here (we don’t accept students who are being ‘sent’)? Do they have the aptitude to succeed in a university preparatory school? And, is it a good fit (socially, emotionally, etc.)?

Q: How heavily do you weigh entrance exams and tests? How should they be prepared for?
A: We have our own aptitude assessment (though we do accept the SSAT). It, coupled with the interview, help determine potential. We are more concerned about potential than test scores, transcripts, and past academic successes. We believe if students have the ability, we have a great track record of getting them to fulfill it.

Q: How heavily are grades weighted? What can students and parents do to prepare for this part of the admissions process?
A: We are more concerned about potential than test scores, transcripts, and past academic successes. We believe that if students have the ability, we have a great track record of getting them to fulfill it. There may be underlying reasons that students are getting low grades, and there may be emotional costs to students who are achieving As. Bottom line, don’t be too concerned about grades. If students have ability that has been unfulfilled, we are interested!

Q: How can parents help and stay connected throughout the application process?
Parents must be full partners both in the application and admissions process. Beyond that, they must remain partners throughout the entire career of their child. In the end, though their child is the one unpacking the bags and living away from home, it ultimately has to be the right decision for the entire family.

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