Secondary School Counseling

Secondary School Process Timeline

List of 8 items.

  • August

    Since most eighth graders apply to independent schools, Park designates a list of visiting days for each eighth grader. Eighth grade parents will receive these dates in the August mailing.
    These are days—in some cases an afternoon or a Park school holiday—when the students are released from their school obligations in order to make visits to secondary schools. When at all possible, eighth grade students should confine their visiting to these days.

    September is a good time to schedule the ISEE and SSAT exams. Typically, students applying from Grades VI and VII must take the ISEE; students in Grades VIII take the SSAT. Be sure to schedule the test(s) early enough to meet application deadlines. Remember to designate Park as the recipient school. Once you have finalized your list, you can add the secondary schools as recipients. If you are planning for your child to take the SSAT with accommodations, please contact Deb Henry, Director of Academic Support for more information. Please contact Matt Kessler in the Secondary School Counseling Office for information about obtaining a fee waiver for the SSAT. 
    ISEE Overview
  • September - October

    During the fall, each eighth grader, and any students in grades six and seven who are interested in applying to other schools, meet with the appropriate Secondary School Counselor.
    The purpose of these talks is to fully engage the student in the process and to practice interviewing skills.

    The Secondary School Counseling Office also asks each student to complete a questionnaire that lists extracurricular activities, both school-sponsored and otherwise. This form is extremely helpful when we write the school's profile of the student's achievements and interests. It is also intended to be helpful in preparing the student for interviews and written pieces of the applications.

    Parents who are considering a move for their children are encouraged to meet with us to discuss the child's profile and to compile a list of schools to consider. These meetings typically happen in the spring of the previous academic year or the fall of the application year.

    Lisa DiAdamo
    (617) 274-6006
    Matt Kessler
    (617) 274-6007
  • October - December

    During the fall term, students and their parents visit and interview at the schools on their lists. This is the time to investigate schools; a decision to interview is not necessarily a commitment to apply.

    In this process, it is important to keep in mind that each child is unique: a school that has been successful for one person or one family may be less successful for another, and vice versa. Consequently, students and their parents should be open to some new possibilities. There is an exciting array of fine schools outside the handful of well-known options in and around Boston.

    Deciding on which schools to visit can be an interesting and informative task or a confusing run-around, depending on how you approach it. After five or six visits, the distinctions among schools begin to blur. Therefore, we encourage the student and parents to keep notes of their visits in the Secondary School Workbook provided by the Secondary School Counseling Office, listing both positive and negative impressions.

    In November, families of students who are applying out receive a mailing with detailed information about the application process. One of the enclosed pages is a form where the family lists the schools to which the student plans to apply. At the bottom of this page, a parent or guardian signature is required, granting permission for the Secondary School Counseling Office to release official documents in support of the student's applications.
  • December

    Before winter vacation, students must ask their teachers (always the current English and math teacher; frequently another teacher or extracurricular advisor as well) to write a recommendation. At the time students make these requests, they should give each teacher the appropriate forms or links. Students should wait for further instructions on distributing recommendation forms from the Secondary School Office.
    This month, particularly when Park is on vacation, is also the time for students to write the essays and other responses that the schools require on the application. Be sure to allow enough time over winter break to tackle this important and time-consuming part of the process!
  • January

    Most completed applications are due by the middle of January, but deadlines vary, so pay attention to individual school's policies.

    By late January, many schools may inform you if any pieces of your admissions file are missing. Don't panic: it takes a little time for schools to record all the materials they have received. Park will make sure that the information (recommendations, transcript) arrives on time.
  • February - March

    All that you and Park can do is done. Now the admission committees at the various schools go to work. 
    Your Secondary School Counselor will continue to advocate for your child at all of the schools on their list.  We are in touch with admissions offices to answer any further questions they may have.
  • Mid-March

    Secondary school decisions are sent out.
    Some decisions will arrive via email, while others will arrive via the postal service. Most NAIS schools follow a March 10th acceptance date with an April 10th reply deadline.
  • Mid-March - Mid-April

    Students generally have about a month in which to reply to those schools to which they have been accepted.
    The revisit days can be helpful when considering your options. Please be sure to notify schools as soon as possible as you make decisions.  Again, the Secondary School Counselors are available to help students and parents think through these decisions.   We are always interested in what you hear from schools on March 10 and what you decide by April 10.

Secondary School Admissions Checklist for Parents

List of 13 items.

  • Meet with Park’s Secondary School Counselors to Begin Planning and Making List of Possible Schools

    September – November 30, 2016
  • Schedule Tours and Interviews with Secondary Schools

    scheduling begins after Labor Day
  • Register for SSATs and *ISEEs

    -the SSAT can be taken multiple times; registration can occur as late as December if necessary
    -the ISEE can only be taken once each "testing window" (Aug-Nov, Dec-March, April-July)
    Be sure to list Park as a receiving school for standardized tests
  • Attend Open Houses (optional)

    check school and AISNE website for dates; typically October and November
  • Visit Schools for Tours and Interviews

    visits typically occur late September – January 15, but check with individual schools as some go as late as February
  • Attend “The Nuts and Bolts of the Application Process”

    Tuesday, October 4 from 7:00-8:00pm and Friday, October 7 from 8:30-9:30am- Conference Room
  • Submit Final List of Schools to Park’s Secondary School Office

    December 1, 2016
  • Submit Recommendations Requests to English & Math and Other Specialist Teachers/Coaches

    December 9, 2016
  • Submit Transcript/School Recommendation Forms to Edith Adams

    December 9, 2016
  • Ensure that Child is Working on Student Portions of Applications

    December 2016 – January 15, 2017
    * in a few cases, applications are due sooner, so be sure to double check dates of specific schools
  • Applicants for Financial Aid: Submit Parents Financial Statement (PFS) and accompanying documents to SSS

    January 15, 2017
  • Receive Decisions from Secondary Schools

    March 10, 2017
  • Respond to All Schools with Student’s Decision and Deposit

    April 10, 2017

Secondary School Downloads

List of 1 news stories.

  • About the Secondary School Counseling Office

    Park’s Secondary School Counseling Office serves students and families in several ways.
    We are a source of information about the large number of secondary school options (independent and public) available. While families may access school information online, we are able to add insight based on regular visits to the many New England area schools. 
    Read More

List of 3 members.

Secondary School Process FAQs

List of 18 frequently asked questions.

  • When is the best time to begin working with the Secondary School Counseling Office?

    Families begin working with the Secondary School Counseling office in the semester prior to an anticipated application, which is typically in the spring of their child's seventh-grade year. Every April, seventh- grade students and families attend an evening workshop that introduces them to the secondary school process. in the weeks that follow, parents have initial meetings with their child's secondary school counselor to begin to plan for the fall and consider which schools might provide the best fit for their child.

    Each year, some families of sixth-grade students also consider seventh-grade placement for their children. We encourage sixth-grade families to share their thinking with the Secondary School Office as early in the process as possible. In some cases, families, not wishing to offend Park, begin the application process without informing the Secondary School Office. This makes it more difficult for us to advocate for your child and increases the likelihood of confusion or misunderstanding.

    Please do not hesitate to contact our office with any questions or concerns. Please trust that we are here to help you through the process, whatever timeline is appropriate for your family.
  • Do I also need to use an outside educational consultant?

    Park offers the same services as private consultants to all families at Park through our Secondary School Counseling Office.
  • How do you know my child?

    The Secondary School Counselors are all teachers and advisors in the Upper Division who know students across the grades. For each student who chooses to apply to secondary schools, the counselors prepare initially by reading all report cards from the student's tenure in the Upper Division (or Middle and Lower Divisions for Grade VI applicants). They also consult with the student's current teachers, coaches, advisor and Division Head. They meet with each student individually to get to know them better and to practice interviewing skills. Reading the Secondary School Questionnaire also helps the counselors to know each student in depth.
  • What if I am thinking about a move at the end of Sixth Grade?

    Every year a few sixth graders move on to secondary school. Sometimes parents believe it is "easier" to gain admission to a new school during these earlier years. While this is the case with certain schools, the question for parents and admission committees ultimately remains: Is the student ready for the increased independence and responsibilities of secondary school? We encourage you to discuss your child's particular situation with Lisa DiAdamo.
  • What does a school receive from Park about a student?

    For students in Grades VII and VIII, Park sends each school a copy of the student's transcript and recommendations. The transcript lists courses taken and term grades received while in the Upper Division. Comments are not sent.

    For students applying from Grade VI, there is no transcript of grades. Instead, Park sends year-end comments from Grade V in addition to recommendations from each of the student's sixth grade academic teachers and from the Head of School.

    Park does not send copies of ISEE or SSAT scores to the secondary schools as schools want to receive scores directly from the testing agencies; it is the responsiblity of each family to submit scores to schools. However, please designate Park as a recipient school so that the Secondary School Counselor can view the results and advise accordingly.
  • What is in the school recommendation?

    The Head's recommendation, written in conjunction with the Secondary School Counselor, is essentially a profile of the student during his or her years at Park. It describes the student's academic achievement, citizenship and extracurricular interests. The purpose of the recommendation is to tell the story of the student's years at Park by synthesizing a great deal of information from a broad range of sources.
  • What other materials do admission committees consider?

    The admission committees also consider recommendations written by the individual teachers (the current English and math teachers and usually an additional letter), the essays written by the student, the interview conversations with the student and the family, grades and test scores. The Secondary School Counselors do not review student essays or teacher recommendations. These are confidential.
  • What if my family needs financial aid?

    We encourage you to be open with your interviewer about your family's needs. Schools publish the average size of their financial awards as well as the percentage of students who receive funding.
  • What if my child has had an educational evaluation or is tutored?

    In looking for the best match for your child, it is important to be open and forthright with the secondary schools. First and foremost, discussing this information may help determine which schools are the best fit for your child. Remember that the interview could be the beginning of a multi-year relationship.
  • How important is the SSAT or ISEE?

    The SSAT/ISEE is one piece of information, and by itself will neither insure nor preclude admission to any school. While it is considered one of many gauges of the student's potential for secondary school work, it must be viewed in context and primarily serves to confirm the other information, or to raise questions. If a student's performance seems mediocre compared to high test scores, or conversely, if test scores seem surprisingly low as compared to school performance, this indicates that more information is needed about that student's abilities or learning style.
  • Is it necessary to prepare for standardized tests with outside tutoring?

    Most students do benefit from some form of test preparation. For students who have traditionally tested well on ERBs or other standardized tests, using the practice tests provided on the SSAT website may be all they need to approach the actual test with confidence. For other students, a test prep class or some outside tutoring may prove beneficial. Generally, standardized test practice or tutoring is most effective in the time period of 8-12 weeks prior to the test.
  • How many times should a student take the SSAT?

    We encourage Park students to take the SSAT as practice in the sixth and/or the seventh grade to give them familiarity with the exam. Students should always have the scores sent to Park. These baseline scores help the secondary school counselors provide parents with a more complete profile and list of possible schools. As a general rule, a student should not take the SSAT more than twice in the year of application. October and December or November and December are the usual dates for students taking the test twice. There is also a January test date, though it comes very near to the application deadline.

    Please note: The ISEE may only be taken once per academic year. Many schools require that applicants to seventh grade take the ISEE rather than the SSAT. Please check with the schools to which you plan to apply.
  • What about taking the SSAT with accommodations?

    Students with documented learning disabilities may qualify to take the SSAT with accommodations based on their educational evaluation. In order to determine whether this option is appropriate for your child, consult Deb Henry, Head of the Academic Support Services.

    *Documentation of a specific learning profile is very important in the application process. In fact, it is required by some schools with specially designed programs.
  • What about so-called "safety schools"?

    We do not use the term. A student should never apply to a school just because he or she seems assured of a place there. First of all, there are no certainties in the admission process. More importantly, the search for a secondary school should always focus on the kind of learning environment that will work best for the student. There is no virtue in a "safety school" if it cannot provide an appropriate educational program for the applicant. We recommend that your child not apply to a school that he or she would not be happy to attend if admitted.
  • To how many schools should my child apply?

    Generally, students in Grade VIII apply to between three and five schools, depending on the student's profile. Any fewer than three doesn't leave much room for the unexpected in the admission process, and many more than five becomes burdensome for most students. However, if financial aid is a significant consideration, then we recommend applying to a greater number of schools.

    Students applying from Grade VI may choose to apply to only one school, having Park as a viable option for seventh grade.
  • What does a wait list decision mean?

    In general, being put on a wait list at a school means that given more places, the school would like to accept that student. Sometimes, the wait list designation results from limitations in financial aid. There is no obligation to stay on a wait list. If your child does decide to remain on a wait list, be aware that there is no guarantee that a place will open up or when that might happen. It could be several days after the April 10 deadline, several weeks, or even several months. In fact, in most cases, wait list places do not open up. If you decide to remain on a wait list, you should personally contact the admissions office at that school, and also let the Secondary School Counselor know.
  • How much say should my child have in all the decisions about secondary school?

    There are three decisions to be made in the admission process. First, the timing of the application should be a decision made by parents. Second, where a child applies should be a decision made by the parents, the child, and the Secondary School Counselor. Third, provided a student is able to articulate clearly what it is that he or she values in choosing one secondary school over another, the final decision about where to enroll should be the child's. Having an investment in this decision will also help your child over the inevitable "rough spots" during their first years in secondary school. Not being able to say "I didn't choose this place; my parents wanted me to come here," eliminates an often-used excuse.
  • Do I have to apply to independent schools?

    Not at all. We are fortunate to live in the Boston area where there are also many excellent public schools. The Secondary School Counselors also work with guidance departments at several of these schools. We are happy to talk to parents and students who are considering a public high school or parochial school.