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Interview on getting into school: Luke Seamone

Luke Seamone, Executive Director of Admissions at Appleby College, shares insights about getting into private school

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Luke Seamone is Executive Director of Admissions at Appleby College, a day and boarding school in Oakville, Ontario.

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 standardized tests. 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. You can also read our choosing guide.

Q: How can parents and students prepare for the interview? What should they know going in?
A: We consider the interview to be an opportunity to find out more about the student. To give them the ‘stage,’ so they can share with us who they really are and ask any questions that they might have. We also appreciate that for many students (and parents) this will be their first time being interviewed by a school. So, students are encouraged to give some thought as to why they may enjoy a specific subject or sport or instrument, but we find that the less scripted the response, the more relaxed they will be. Our goal is for students and their parents to enjoy the interview process!

Q: How heavily do you weigh entrance exams and tests? How should they be prepared for?
A: The good news about taking the SSATs (for Appleby College applications) is that they are waived for those students who apply before October 31st! For those who apply after October 31st, the weighting is dependent upon the individual student. For example, a student who has a strong report card, but whose SSAT results are not as strong—their report card results will be more heavily weighted and vice versa. In terms of preparing for the SSAT—we suggest taking a look at the practice questions, but don’t over prepare. When taking the test, it is important to remember that if you don’t know the answer to a question—leave it blank. You won’t get penalized for skipping a question, but you will if you answer it incorrectly.

Q: How heavily are grades weighted? What can students and parents do to prepare for this part of the admissions process?
A: We are not looking to admit only those students who have straight As or whose grades are in the high 90s. There are many other factors we consider—such as why they want to join Appleby, their involvement in the community, are they interested in playing a sport that they’ve never played before, are they willing to get involved in student life, etc. Being a student at Appleby is about being a well-rounded individual.

Q: What do you consider when admitting a student? What should parents consider when applying to a particular school?
A: We don’t want our student community to all be the same. Quite the opposite. We embrace students who have unique skills and interests and want to share those with the community. So there are a number of factors taken into consideration when admitting a student. This includes their academic ability/potential, desire and motivation to attend Appleby, and involvement in extracurricular activities (e.g., athletics, arts, service). Parents should also be aware of how competitive the application process is, and appreciate that not all students will receive an offer of acceptance.

Q: How can parents help and stay connected throughout the application process?
When applying to Appleby College, or any school for that matter, parents need to play a supportive role and encourage their son/daughter to ask as many questions as they have throughout the application process. However, once the application is submitted, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the questions need to stop. At Appleby, we always welcome calls from parents inquiring about the status of their son/daughter’s application while it undergoes review. We know that the wait can be an anxious time!

Q: What advice or words of wisdom would you give students and parents to help them make the most of the application process?
A: We encourage students and parents to use the application process as an opportunity for useful self-reflection—what do they want out of a school, what are they (the student) most passionate about? Also, for those families who are interested in financial assistance, it is important to understand how this process works in conjunction with the application process and timelines. This way, when an offer of admission is received, the family will be in a better position to accept/decline based on the outcome of their financial assistance application.

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