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7 Factors Affecting Boarding School Admissions in 2021

Boarding schools always present a competitive admissions landscape. However, this year a confluence of factors has made this landscape even more competitive. East Coast boarding schools have, almost universally, communicated a surge in applications; in fact, most schools have reported that their applications have increased by more than 30%.

Some factors affecting boarding school admissions this year are the same ones we’ve noticed from the college admissions landscape as well. Others are unique to primary and secondary education. The top seven factors to keep in mind about the competitiveness of boarding school admissions in 2021 are as follows:

  • Public school dissatisfaction with hybrid and remote leaning models.
  • Optional SSATs, which made it easier and more enticing for students to apply.
  • Many boarding schools over-enrolled their freshman classes last year due to concerns surrounding COVID’s impact on attrition.
  • Higher rate of students repeating a year of high school due to lost opportunities with athletics and academics.
  • Students who were admitted last year but deferred, only to reapply this year.
  • Concerns from schools about over-enrolling this year, recognizing that they can’t exceed by a single bed in next year’s dorms due to the space constraints presented by COVID. Because of that, many schools are offering fewer spots this year.
  • The fact that one could apply and move through the process ‘without ever leaving one’s living room’ made applying more accessible.

Students and families hoping to apply for and enroll in US boarding schools next year need to be even more prepared and more diligent than ever. If you have questions about the process and what you need to do to make a competitive application, please don’t hesitate to contact us at