How to Rock Your Boarding School Essay

Stories, know-how, and guidance from the experts in educating boys.

Ollie Rothmann


How to Rock Your Boarding School Essay 

The dreaded boarding school essay: Where do I start? How do I know that the Admissions Committee will like what I write? Should I be honest? How long should it be? When pondering the essay you need to write for your SSAT application to a private school, all of these questions—and more—will go through your mind. The process may seem daunting, but have no fear, the Admissions Office at Avon Old Farms, the best boarding school for boys in CT, has a few tips on writing a standout essay for your private school application!

Be Authentic

At this point in the application process, you have visited and interviewed at the schools you're applying to. The admissions committee knows you fairly well by now, so go ahead and tell them something that they don't already know! Now is the time to fascinate the reader with interesting and unique tidbits about what makes you you.

Find a way to grab the admissions associates’ attention right off the bat. Your goal is to hook the reader in with a remarkable statement he or she will not read in any other applicant's essay.


Snoozer Statement: "When I went to Puerto Rico to serve with the Red Cross Relief program, I gained experience in helping others. I delivered water to families that didn't have any and I learned a lot."

Rockin' Statement: "Through my service in Puerto Rico with the Red Cross Relief program, I was able to see beyond myself and peer through the eyes of people in need. In particular, I remember delivering water to a woman who desperately needed it. Instead of grabbing the package from me, she made sure her neighbors had their cases of water first. That woman's unselfishness in the face of dehydration taught me that no matter what circumstances we find ourselves in, we can still care for others."

Be Honest

Never model an admissions essay around what you think the admissions committee would like to hear. Trying to predict what should be said doesn't work in this discipline because there is no “correct” essay. Each essay should be different and represent the character of the author. With this being said, don't try to write the next New York Times Best Seller. Just be true to yourself.


Cringy Statement: "At Avon Old Farms School, the number one, absolutely phenomenal, amazing boarding school for boys in New England and the entire world, I intend on fulfilling the school's mission statement to be a young man of integrity who is prepared for college. I hereby swear to uphold the core values of the school and will model brotherhood and scholarship every day I am at the school."

Rockin' Statement: "I'm excited that Avon Old Farms has a thriving Environmental Club and beehives because I understand the importance of caring for our planet. For the past two years, I have volunteered at our local farm and am looking forward to opportunities to learn more about sustainability and beekeeping."

Revise, Revise, and Then Revise Again

A well-revised essay shows the admissions committee that you have taken the time to diligently exhibit your intelligence. Essays containing several spelling and grammar errors will reflect poorly upon your application as a whole. If you take the time to reference the name of a specific school, make sure that it is the right one! The last thing that you want is a glowing essay ending with “I hope to be given the opportunity to attend X-school,” when you are sending the essay to Y-school.


Lazy Statement: "When I get to Super School, i hop to excel and be youre favorite student!!!!"

Rockin' Statement: "Avon Old Farms School is an institution I can envision myself growing immensely at."


Follow Directions

The guidelines for your personal statement (Question #5 on the SSAT Standard Application) are put in place for a reason.

  • You're instructed to write on one of the three topics; so, don't write three different essays, one for each question.
  • You're instructed to write between 250-500 words; therefore, don't try to show the admissions committee how much you can write by constructing a 1000-word piece. Similarly, don't skimp and write a 50-word statement. Stay within the constraints of the word-count.

Admissions committees across the nation expect students who are applying to private schools to be able to follow directions, so be sure to review the essay guidelines before writing.


Key Takeaway

Remember, admissions associates around the nation read hundreds—even thousands—of personal statements each year. How will you be honest and authentic? Take it upon yourself to OWN your essay. Write about what you want to write about. This piece of your application is a great opportunity to tell the admissions committee something that you did not get across during your school visit. View the essay-writing process as an opportunity as opposed to another chore because a rockin' boarding school essay can make a huge difference in your enrollment journey.



Avon Old Farms Class of 2011

Director of Financial Aid