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No experience but I would say yes to following-up with the coach and yes he has influence to the F.A.
This is the exact same situation we were in last winter. Prep schools were not on our radar yet, so we were very green to the process. Yes follow up with the coach and yes he has a say in your financial aide. I would plan your visit on an afternoon when they are having a home hockey game so you can stay and watch. After our visit we mainly corresponded with the dean of admissions (he gave us the tour) not the coach. Your sons grades will have the most influence, his personality helps during interviews and if he is decent in another sport is always a plus. What grade is he currently in?? Have his current and/or middle school send you his transcript. It is always an eye opener for kids see it and makes them work harder. My son had one B on his and he swears it was and 89.8 .. but it doesn't say that does it is says B and that's what they see... he worked a little harder after that! Good luck... so cool that hockey gave him this opportunity!
The first thing you need to do is get him scheduled to take the SSATs ASAP, because it will probably take more than one sitting. Understand that the SSATs, unlike the SATs that you remember, or that any older kids you have took, are much harder to do well on. They are only being administered to kids that are considering private secondary schools. So if 90% of kids don't take them, a 50th percentile SSAT score means that you are pretty much at the 95th percentile nationally.
Then, you need to have conversations with the academic advisors at your kid's current school or your town's HS to make sure that the school you're considering is a good "fit" fr your kid. They know the schools well, especially the ones closest to you. Prep schools are VERY different in terms of learning approach and how they expect the kids to spend their time. My kid can walk off campus any time he wants to get pizza. He even brought one back fore the class last month. At another school he'd probably receive detention (Hello, Mr. Hand).
You should plan to apply to more than one school - probably 4 or 5. You should get a sense of the culture, how well your kid will fit in, what kinds of things does that school see as important. Understand, they will be interviewing not just your kid, they will be interviewing you, too.
And, don't plan a lot during the holiday break, you and he are going to be very busy filling out the applications, writing responses to short answer questions (you, too) and 400 - 600 word essays.
Notice how I haven't mentioned anything about hockey yet?
The other reason you should apply to more than one school is you could get very different commitments from different schools in terms of a varsity spot, playing time (they can make your kid a scratch player like the NHL and he may not see the ice) and financial aid. Don't assume he will get aid. Some recruited kids don't. It has to be need based.
Getting admitted to more than one school is tough nowadays. Depending on the size of the school, they accept maybe 50 out of 1,200 applicants. Yes, the coach has say, but he doesn't have absolute say. I know a lot of kids that were recruited and didn't get in.
But, having choices gives you leverage. Very important to have. Very uncomfortable if you don't.
Let the admissions folks know when you make your visit appointment that you'd like to meet the hockey coach if he's available. If your kid is being recruited by one school he should be on other school's radar already.
But, you should be more concerned about academic and cultural fit, not hockey. Truly and honestly, don't make your decision based principally on hockey. Season is 14 weeks, 20 hours a week. Doesn't matter how good his hockey experience is if he's miserable the rest of the time.
more like - Doesn't matter how miserable his hockey experience is if he's happy the rest of the time.
International average, from the same website, is 20%. Average day students (at boarding schools--100% at day schools) is 32%. If half of rest from NE, which is likely low, then 56% are from NE and 24% from rest of country. All of NE is approximately 15 mm of population, the rest of the country 295 mm. Still think all the smart kids apply to prep schools?
That has absolutely NOTHING to do with what the OP was asking. But thanks for the random stats that anyone who looks up boarding schools can find! He didn't ask for your opinion of the whole process either. The first few who replied were spot on. Then there was the epic poster who just wanted to just give his biased opinion of applying to prep schools and not answer the OP question succinctly. It's ok not to post on every subject. Really we don't mind. Had to give his spin on the process and blow it all out of proportion! He obviously went through it and his kid didn't get in or didn't get and $$ and now he is bitter that he wasted time writing essays!
Walk around most prep schools and you tell me,(especially with the athlete kids) academically these kids are in the top 95% of all high school kids in America.
What started this whole kerfuffle was the guy who assumed all of the kids applying to prep schools are in the upper 10 percent of the general population in smarts. This simply is not the case, and overstates the talent of the prep school population. It was either a mistake, bad math, or over-inflated ego. That's up to the poster to determine.
Private schools are like club hockey. Sure there are many elite students, and you often get better resources and superior instruction, but there is a spot for almost anyone if you can write the check.
You are wrong! Many don't need to write a check! I know 4 families whose kids were straight A's, full of personality and play 2 sports well and barely pay a dime!!
The admit rate, SSAT percentile rank average and other stats are all available online but beware that they may be self-reported and manipulated to some extent. Colleges do the same for prestige ranking purposes.
As to the SSAT percentile score of your straight A public school kid it is true that a public school kid who ranks in the 90th percentile on national standardized tests may score as low as the 50th percentile in the math and verbal sections of the SSAT. This is partly because the group of kids taking the SSAT is self-selective, but also because the international kids are often years ahead in math and the kids who have attended independent primary schools are often years ahead in both math and language arts. Your 8th grader who is currently taking pre-algebra will compete against 8th graders currently taking pre-calc. Algebra and geometry are on the SSAT upper exam, and the verbal section requires knowledge of terms that your public school star will never have heard. It's a real eye-opener for the parent of a public school kid but they can't really compete in subject matter which they have not yet been taught. The reading comp score seems to be less teachable and your kid from the under-performing public should do fine if he is an avid reader.
As to admissions in general, being an FA applicant is a major handicap. If you are full pay and your kid fits the stats of the school then your chances are probably good unless the kid has a lousy interview and no ECs. If you are an FA applicant then your kid will have to be a real standout. That might be athletically, academically or artistically, and preferably more than one way. Amount of FA required is also important. Although this may lead your kid to a less prestigious school there is an argument to be made that it is better to be in the top 25% anywhere than in the bottom 25% at even the most prestigious school.
Ask yourself if prep is right for your kid and your family. It's big $$$ that will go up every year your kid is enrolled. They say it's need based but the reality is they will try to get every nickel from every family they can. Sure you will see stats that say most kids get aid and the "average" is $x but look at the tuition. Day schools are now in the 40's and boarding 60k. Can you really swing that for four years and then college? And if you think your kid is going to play D1, remember most kids get a 2/4 which on a $60K per year school means your still need $120K to pay for college.
Prep's can be great and worth the investment if your kid is going to maximize everything the school offers. If not, or you are going to jump to USHL or something else half way through, then there might be better options for your money.
Talk to every school you can and ask tough questions. Will he play right away? Many of the big boarding schools won't play freshmen much as they have to play all the PG's paying big bucks. What can you expect to pay? How will that change year to year once he is in the school. Remember that once your kid is enrolled, they have the leverage financially knowing it's unlikely you will take your kid out once he is in.
I'm sure most parents will tell you how great prep is and how much their kid loves it but most have chased it because that's what everyone else's kid was doing. The reality is many have been severely impacted financially and have huge regrets. Again, it all comes back to best fit for the kid and family. You really need to project out and say is my kid going to be that much better off justifying the investment and what is the opportunity cost you are giving up.
OP here - Thanks all for all the input, the pros and cons - very much appreciated. Lots to think about. We have our first campus visit and interview scheduled for tomorrow.
We definitely will look at other schools too over the next couple of weeks. To be frank without a substantial aid package this is not going to happen anyway as I will not put be able to put up 50k annually over the 4 years. so we will see. Apart from that, the fact that interest is there from schools is pretty amazing in itself.
Again thanks, and I will keep you posted.
OP and second responder (11:12) - at what age were you approached by the prep coaches (or after which grade), and was it completely unsolicited? Or did your sons attend a camp or have previous conversations with connected people?
Some coaches get out and scout, few have the time to take in all that much so they leverage tournaments, giving talks to AAA teams that coaches set up for them, or simply emailing coaches for contacts of good players who might be seeking Prep as an option.
Don't get all that giddy or disappointed if your kid has or has not been recruited. It's not college and there are no scholarships. These schools have college like campuses with very small student bodies so they need kids to pay tuition. They have their formulas for the mix of kids that pay full v. get need based aid so if you think a headmaster is going to go before their BOD saying he has blown the FA budget on hockey players to eek out a few more wins your crazy.
I can give you this advice from the few kids I have coached that have gone onto private HS or preps. 99% of the conversations went exactly like this
School/Coach: "would your kid be interested in coming to _________ to play hockey ? "
Parents: "yes, but we cant afford that for high school !"
School/Coach: "well, what do you think you could afford ? "
Parents " Probably around(insert low ball offer here) or we were paying $4000 for private middle school "
School/Coach: "SO you would play for 4k ?"
School/Coach : "He's in"
Parents to each other: "****, we should have said 2k"