Secondary School Process
As your child approaches the beginning of their 8th grade year, you should have already begun the secondary school process by researching the schools your child is interested in attending. Your next steps are outlined below.
Gathering Information from Schools and Starting the Applications:
Most independent secondary schools, both day and boarding, have opened their admission portal for families to start the application process. Many schools have moved to online application forms which can be accessed directly from the school’s website. It might involve creating an account initially, and once the account is created you can access it anytime until you finally pay the application fee and submit the completed application.
Requesting Teacher Recommendations:
Secondary schools require at least two teacher recommendations, one from the student’s current English teacher and one from the current math teacher. Please be sure to submit these requests early. Request for recommendations may be made online or you can submit a paper copy of the recommendation form. In either case, please be sure to sign the waiver that waives your right to have access to the recommendations. Montgomery will not be able to send the teacher recommendations without a signed waiver from the parent.
Please direct online recommendation requests to Mr. Joe Hutcheson for English, Mrs. Susie Macciocca for 8M math, and Mr. Paulsson Rajarigam for 8L math and Principal/Guidance Counselor. Paper forms need to be turned into Patty Kirkner in the Farmhouse who will make sure the teachers receive the forms. Please do not give them directly to the teachers writing the recommendation. These recommendations are written closer to the end of November which provides teachers ample time to get to know the students and advocate for their admission. They will then be sent directly to the secondary schools.
It would be a good idea to have your child approach the teachers writing the recommendations to make a verbal request and even write a thank you note in advance to express their appreciation to the teacher.
We will be sending your child’s 7th grade transcript and 8th grade mid-semester snapshot of the grades (as of November 1) to secondary schools. The complete 1st semester transcript will be sent to the schools in January. In order for us to send the transcripts, you need to fill out a transcript release form for each school your child is applying to. We will not be able to send the transcripts without your signed transcript release. Please direct online transcript requests to Patty Kirkner or you may drop off the release forms at the Farmhouse. The transcripts will be sent directly to the schools.
Admissions Visits from Secondary Schools:
Admissions directors from various secondary schools in the area and beyond have expressed interest in meeting our students. They will visit Montgomery and meet with interested students over lunch to talk about their school and the program they offer. I have scheduled a few visits already, and I will let you know of other visits as they are scheduled. If your child is interested in any of the schools listed below, this would be a tremendous opportunity for your child to meet with the admission officers, introduce themselves, join the conversation, and have their questions answered.
The first visit is by representatives from Mid-Atlantic Boarding Schools Group (MABS) on Monday, September 16. From 1:25 - 2:55 p.m., they will make a presentation to 8th grader students and their parents, offering a panel discussion, Q & A, and ending with group mock interviews. Even if your child is not applying to boarding schools, I’m confident that you will find this presentation helpful. MABS is also hosting a reception at the Saturday Club in Wayne on Sunday, September 14, 4:00 -6:00 p.m., which you are invited to attend.
Visits from other schools are as follows:
September 18: Emma Willard, Troy, NY
September 19: Villa Maria Academy, Malvern, PA
September 20: Governor’s Academy, Byfield, MA
September 23: Agnes Irwin, Rosemont, PA
September 25: The Hill School, Pottstown, PA
October 15: Ethel Walker, Simsbury, CT
School Visits/Shadow Days:
In addition to attending open houses and initial school visits, schools also provide an opportunity for your child to spend a day shadowing another student who is currently enrolled there. This helps your child experience firsthand the school’s learning environment and culture. Some schools schedule these visits even before the application is complete and others do so only after they receive the completed application. Please contact the schools directly to find out what their process is. Once you have those visit days firmed up, please let me know so that I can notify the 8th grade faculty.
At many schools, an interview/conversation with the student may be part of the shadow day visit schedule. Mrs. Keidel, a former director of admissions herself, works with students to prep them for these interviews. Please contact Janis Oeschger to schedule a mock interview for your child. This session can help to ease any nerves ahead of the official interview. Please share the scheduled interview dates in your email to Janis Oeschger so that they can be scheduled ahead of your first visit. Most schools will also like to speak with the parents during those visits.
The Independent School Entrance Exam (ISEE) and Secondary School Admission Test (SSAT) are the two standardized tests that are available for students applying to independent schools. Since most schools accept either the ISEE or SSAT scores, your child needs to take only one. We will be offering 4 ISEE prep sessions free of charge to students on the following dates: October 2, October 7, October 16, and October 23. These classes will be held during PE, and students are strongly encouraged to attend.
A full-length practice ISEE is scheduled for 8:30 AM - 12:00 PM on Saturday, October 12. Students should check in no later than 8:00 AM in the Dining Room. If your child is unable to take the practice test on October 12, we will re-administer the practice test on Friday, October 18, at the same time as the first practice test. This practice test is not mandatory. However, doing a full-length ISEE will provide students familiarity with the format of the test and also help build confidence and stamina to take the actual test in the following weeks.
The official ISEE testing will be administered at Montgomery School on Saturday, November 2, 8:30 AM - 12:00 PM with a check-in time at 8:00 AM. You may also choose to test at a different site or on a different day. For alternate testing sites and dates, you may check https://iseeonline.erblearn.org/Search. If you prefer that your child take the test at Montgomery, please complete the online registration no later than Friday, October 18 by following the directions below:
1) Log on to www.iseetest.org
2) Select “Registration” and then “Register Now”
The next screen will prompt you to create a parent account and then add your student to your account. Once you have filled in the required fields, enter the following event code: QX6PKWDR (case sensitive). Montgomery School will come up as the only option for you, and you proceed from there. Also, when you are given an option to report the test score to Montgomery, please choose “Yes”.
For both the practice test and the official test, should bring two #2 pencils and a ballpoint pen. It is important that your child gets a good night's rest and eats a hearty breakfast before the test. It would also be a good idea to pack a snack and send in a bottle of water.
In addition to components outlined above, schools may have other requirements specific to their process such as a letter/essay/personal statement written by the student that speaks about the student’s interests, experiences, dreams, etc. Some may also ask for a recommendation from a third teacher, coach, minister, rabbi, etc.
If your child is applying to a public school, the process might be different. Feel free to contact your school district or access their website for more information.
Please consider giving your child as much ownership of this secondary school application process as possible. There will be times when they will need your intervention, guidance, support, and some occasional prodding because organization is going to be key. Nonetheless, students will learn immensely by fully engaging in this application process.