It’s Not Too Late to Apply to Boarding School: 5 Steps to Apply Now

by Aimee Yllanes

Every day we hear from families like yours who are concerned about finding the best school for their child to thrive, especially following the social, academic, and emotional effects of COVID-19 on adolescents. Supportive teachers, a kind community, and programs that allow for academic challenge, growth, and character development are important now more than ever. While the process of applying to a boarding school may seem overwhelming, these five steps will guide you through the process. 

Step 1: Explore Websites and Attend Virtual Events

While friends and family are one way to learn about a particular school, you can also easily research schools on your own. Websites such as Boarding School Review and The Association for Boarding Schools are excellent resources that allow you to customize your search based on location, size, or other factors that are important to your family. 

Once you’ve narrowed your list of schools, explore their websites. The mission and philosophy of a school are helpful to understand whether the values of the school align with yours. The 3D virtual tour, as well as photos and videos, can give you a feel for the campus without leaving your home. Testimonials and our a-day-in-the-life page will also give you insight into the culture of CRMS and whether it’s a good fit for your child.

Participating in virtual events will provide a deeper understanding of the school without leaving your home. A list of CRMS’s current virtual offerings can be found in the Admission section of the website. Feel free to reach out to us to schedule a more personalized virtual meeting or tour for your family.

Step 2: Start an Online Application

Once you have decided to apply, you’ll need to complete the online application. You can choose to apply with our specific application or use one of the common application options such as the Standard Application Online (SAO) or Gateway to Prep Schools Application. Starting the application means setting up an account, providing preliminary information, and paying the application fee. If finances are a concern, many schools offer a fee waiver if you ask.

Before you apply, read through the application process on our website and understand the deadline. CRMS’s priority application deadline is February 1. Some schools may have an earlier deadline while others may offer mid-year and rolling admissions or even continue to enroll students during the summer until classes begin. 

Step 3: Complete Your Application Before the Deadline

The CRMS application consists of:

  • student essays
  • a parent questionnaire
  • recommendation letters from both English and math teachers as well as from a principal or guidance counselor
  • request a copy of their transcript be sent to the school
  • a student interview
  • a parent meeting
  • standardized test scores (such as The Secondary School Assessment Test  – SSAT, ISEE, and TOEFL). CRMS has gone test-optional for the 2022-23 school year. Other schools may still require tests so plan accordingly.

We recommend that you prioritize the checklist items in the order below so that you can be sure your application is submitted on time.

  • Register for any standardized tests you plan to take
  • Send the recommendation forms to allow teachers and administrators ample time to thoughtfully complete and submit them
  • Request to have a copy of your child’s transcript sent to CRMS 
  • Schedule and complete the student interview and parent/guardian meeting (these can be done over Zoom meeting if you can’t get to campus)
  • Complete the essays

Before you complete the interviews and essays, learn as much about the school as possible (see Step 1 above) so you and your child can give examples of why you are interested in that specific school. For tips on writing an effective admission essay, check out our recent blog post.

Step 4: Meet the Financial Aid Deadline

If affording boarding school is one of your biggest concerns, be sure you meet the school’s priority financial aid deadline which is often in early February, CRMS’s financial aid deadline is February 15. 

The financial aid application consists of a financial statement and also other documentation (such as tax returns and W2s). If you apply after the deadline, you may still qualify for some financial aid. Contact the financial aid office with any questions you have.  

Step 5:  Submit Your Application!

Once your checklist items are completed, press the submit button! 

Now it’s time for you to get started! Just take one “Step” at a time. 


Julie Wiley is the Associate Director of Admission at Colorado Rocky Mountain School. She is the former Assistant Director of Admission at UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School. Over the past 19 years, she has worked with hundreds of students throughout the application process.

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