Visiting a private school can seem intimidating, but going into your private school visit or interview with the right mindset can make a huge difference to your overall experience. While it’s important to make a good impression, also make sure to consider what you think of the school and whether the environment is a good fit for your personal and academic needs. Your visit should be a day of information gathering, forming connections, and importantly, envisioning a future for yourself on campus.
Here are a few handy private school interview tips to help ease the navigation process. These five steps will ensure that you get off on the right foot and make the most out of your visit.
While you still want to dress professionally, it’s important to remember that you will be walking around campus and interacting with new people all day. Don’t wear anything outside of your comfort zone or shoes that will pinch your feet on a tour! Keeping style elements of who you are will also put you at ease and allow you to feel more at home and project your personality. Remember: Your school visit should ideally be a two-way exchange where the school admission office and faculty can learn more about who you are as a person, and you can find out about the school as a community. Don’t shy away from your true self.
Nothing demonstrates interest in a school more than a thoughtful question, and your tour guide or admission officer will take notice. While you may be looking at several schools, take the time to browse the school website or social media platforms the night before your visit. This will help keep important questions or recent events fresh in your mind and demonstrate that you are following the school closely. Note any signature programs that the school offers. Is traveling and world culture your thing? Ask about the Global Dynamics humanities component at The Winchendon School. Are you into hockey? Comment on any athletic victories recently accomplished by the varsity team. Into physics? inquire about a class project you saw on the school’s facebook page.
You may feel tired and anxious on the day of your visit, but your body language often dictates the way you are perceived in a new environment. Try to maintain eye contact, offer a firm handshake, and keep a strong posture when interacting with new people on campus. A look of boredom or slouched shoulders can suggest that you are being dragged along by your parents - which may very well be true, but you might actually like the school! Approach every visit with a fresh mindset and positive attitude, and take the time to answer any questions using more than one word (yes or no) answer to help the natural flow of a conversation.
As you tour the campus, this is your chance to truly envision yourself as new student. Strolling past the soccer field, imagine yourself running onto the turf with a friend after school. Entering the dining hall, imagine the lunches you’ll make up at the panini grill and salad bar each afternoon (they probably offer your favorite). If possible, arrange ahead of time with the admission office to actually sit in a class - this will be your best chance at engaging with the students and really getting a feel for how you fit into the student culture. At The Winchendon School, you may be interested in signing up to sit in on a ‘Philosophies of Justice” class, or even checking out one of their Musical Theatre and Drama programs.
Following your visit, be sure to send an email or card thanking your tour guides and faculty for showing you around and answering questions. Admission officers meet hundreds of students in a given semester, but a personal follow up note will stick out in their mind - and is also likely to end up in your application file as demonstrated interest. Taking the time to follow up or ask any clarifying questions also demonstrates your continued interest in the school following your visit. If you wish to learn more from a student perspective, ask your admission officer for a current student contact! They will be happy to connect you with one of their student ambassadors.
Hopefully these private school interview tips will help you to find out more about who you are, your likes and dislikes, and the future you envision for yourself when it comes to the school you’re visiting. If you have a visit coming up, check out our free printable checklist for private school visits!