When to Attend Prep School? The Sooner, the Better

Many families think that because prep schools accept students in grades 8-13 they can decide to attend prep school whenever they want. While that’s technically accurate, it’s not that simple. The reality is that the competition for athletic spots at the best schools is tremendous. Schools are not just taking whoever applies, especially if the family wants financial aid (FA). Consequently, the sooner you attend, the better. Here’s an outline explaining why.

  1. It’s easier for younger student-athletes to get admitted
    1. The schools know the longer the student attends the school, the better the chances of success for all.
    2. Younger students improve the overall stability of the schools
    3. Post-graduate (PG) spots are the most competitive and hardest to get financial aid for.
      1. More students want to attend as PGs and almost all the leagues have limits on the number of PGs allowed.
        1. More kids fighting for fewer spots
          1. The same student who could have been accepted as a junior often cannot get a spot as a PG at the very same school.
  2.  It’s easier to get more financial aid for younger student-athletes
    1. Underclassmen are at a premium for all the prep schools
    2. PGs spots are the hardest to get financial aid for
  3. You don’t have to be as talented or successful athletically or academically
    1. Schools will take a chance on weaker students and those exhibiting athletic potential, if they are younger.
      1. Schools know the longer they have them, the better the chances of success
      2. This is particularly true for students coming from very weak academic and socio-economic backgrounds. Statistics and studies show the optimum time for this type of student to get to prep school is the beginning of the freshman year.
  4. The more time at prep school, the higher the rate of success
    1. Student potential is maximized due to more time spent in a better academic and athletic environment
    2. The transition to prep school is a big one
      1. It takes most kids a year to make the academic and athletic adjustment
        1.  Once the transition is made, the next level of  growth can take place
        2. Repeating junior year is more than twice as beneficial as doing a PG year. Both are a total of two years, one is more than twice as good a choice.
  5. A PG year can no longer make up for four years of poor high school performance
    1. NCAA rule changes in response to system abuse now allow credit for only one class in a PG year.
      1. For weak students the transition to prep school must be made sooner


Of course, each family situation is different. Students and parents develop at different rates. Consequently some are ready to leave home, or have their child leave home, before others. The facts, however, are clear. Sooner is better.