Secondary School Placement
Each year about forty Ninth Grade boys begin their final academic journey as Hillside students. It is certainly an exciting time as the boys and their families explore the realm of secondary schools. With hundreds of schools that offer excellent academic, athletic, artistic and community programs, families have much to consider regarding secondary school possibilities. Suffice to say, Hillside, the boys and their parents must form a strong partnership as families navigate the details and the nuances of the secondary school placement process.
Because secondary schools vary in academic rigor, size, structure, and program, the Secondary School Placement office works in collaboration with Ninth Grade families to find schools that best meet the individual needs of each boy. Finding a proper “fit” is of paramount importance, knowing that no one school is the “right” school for all students. Through individual conversations with parents and the boys, Hillside’s goal is to find a wide range of schools that are a good match for each student.
Every year Hillside hosts approximately forty secondary schools to our campus to meet with boys and to learn more about Hillside’s Ninth Grade class. Families begin the secondary school process in the spring of a student's Eighth Grade year with a meeting with the Eighth Grade parents and to start the process of identifying possible schools. While a time consuming endeavor, the secondary school search process should ideally conclude with each boy’s admittance to a variety of secondary schools.
Secondary School Placement Timeline
Click the links below to jump to a specific section of the timeline, or simply scroll down to read the entire piece.
Secondary School Placement Timeline
April & May of Eighth Grade Year - Parents Meet with Director of Secondary School Placement - Responsibility of Parents
The secondary school placement process begins with individual conversations between Eighth Grade parents and the Director of Secondary School Placement in the Spring of their son’s Eighth Grade year. After March break, Eighth Grade parents are invited to contact the Director to arrange a meeting or a phone call to discuss the secondary school process. Parents will share their thoughts about their son and begin to explore secondary school possibilities. While the Secondary School Placement office will encourage and advise boys and their parents throughout the entire search process, families are responsible for the research of all schools and all application and enrollment decisions.
April of Eighth Grade Year - Eighth Graders Take SSAT - Responsibility of Parents and Boys
Hillside encourages all Eighth Graders to take the SSAT in April of their Eighth Grade year. The April test will serve as a practice test for future tests that will be administered in the Fall and Winter of each student’s Ninth Grade year. Boys may take the SSAT at Hillside, which will be administered on Saturdays per the requirement of SSAT.
Hillside requests that all SSAT scores be sent to Hillside. The Director of Secondary School Placement will utilize these scores to initially guide families in their selection of possible school options. At this point in the process, parents should identify Hillside as the sole recipient of their son’s SSAT scores via the SSAT website.
- Hillside’s SSAT school number is #3910.
- Parents may register their son for the SSAT at the SSAT Website.
- Please sign up early as spaces are limited.
- Students may also take the SSAT at another test center if it is geographically more convenient for families. Parents should still identify Hillside as the sole recipient of the scores via the SSAT website using our school number #3910.
Summer Before Ninth Grade Year - Research Schools - Responsibility of Parents and Boys
Hillside recommends that each Eighth Grader and his parents should research schools over the summer. They can view school websites and even walk through campuses to help get a feeling for the schools. Because Hillside will help prepare all Ninth Graders for their interviews and tours during the fall of their Ninth Grade year, boys should not interview with secondary schools over the summer. Students and their families will be given the week after the Columbus Day weekend to conduct tours and interviews.
Summer Before Ninth Grade Year - SSAT Test Preparation - Responsibility of Parents and Boys
There are many SSAT test preparation opportunities, and Hillside strongly recommends SSAT test preparation for all its Ninth Graders. While Hillside will offer a SSAT preparation course for its Ninth Graders in the Fall, all students should prepare for the SSAT during the Summer before their Ninth Grade year. Families may arrange for boys to have individual/group tutoring sessions or students may use SSAT test preparation books for practice. To emphasize the importance of the SSAT, some students are denied or gain admittance to a secondary school in part because of SSAT scores.
- TOEFL Option: International students may also consider taking the TOEFL test, a test designed for international students who want to attend American secondary schools. Parents must register their son for the test through the TOEFL website. Many institutions near Hillside offer the TOEFL test. The parents of international students may arrange transportation to TOEFL test sites, at their own expense, with our Dean of Residential Life, Monica Lucey by email. Parents should send all TOEFL test scores to Hillside and to the secondary schools to which their son is applying.
Summer Before Ninth Grade Year - Arrange Interviews and Tours at Schools - Responsibility of Parents and Boys
Once parents and boys have identified schools to visit, parents must arrange the interviews and tours at the secondary schools. All Hillside’s Ninth Graders will have no classes the week after Columbus Day weekend to conduct tours and interviews (October 10th-14th, 2016). Parents should schedule school visits at this time so the boys’ academic experience at Hillside is not interrupted. Because interview times fill up quickly, families should contact Admissions Offices during the month of August and early September to schedule these visits.
Since all secondary schools require interviews to consider an applicant, it is imperative that interviews be arranged and completed.
Fall/Winter - SSAT and/or TOEFL Test-Taking - Responsibility of Parents and Boys
Most secondary schools require students to take the SSAT, the Secondary School Admission Test, during the academic year in which they apply. Parents are responsible for registering their son for the SSAT through the SSAT Website.
Hillside is an official SSAT test site and will offer the SSAT on three Saturdays during the academic year: November 12, 2016; December 10, 2016; January 7, 2017; amd April 22, 2017. When initially creating an account and registering for the SSAT, parents should identify Hillside School as the sole recipient of their son’s scores using our SSAT school number (#3910). Later in the year, once parents have decided which schools their son is applying to, Hillside will send the SSAT scores to the secondary schools. Also, it is very helpful for the Secondary School Placement office to have each boy’s SSAT results as they will help guide families in finding viable secondary school options for their son.
Hillside recommends that students take the SSAT in November or December. Should boys want to take the SSAT again because of low scores they will have that opportunity in January.
- Students may also take the SSAT at another test center if it is geographically more convenient for parents. Parents should still identify Hillside as the sole recipient of the scores via the SSAT website using our school number #3910.
Fall of Ninth Grade Year - Lunch Visits with Secondary School Representatives - Responsibility of Director of Secondary School Placement
Each year dozens of secondary schools visit Hillside in the Fall. School representatives will spend about forty-five minutes with some of the boys at lunch, making short presentations and allowing time for questions. With information from parents about their son and the kind of school they are interested in (academic rigor, location, athletic interests, artistic interests…), the Secondary School Placement office will invite about six to ten boys to meet with various school representatives.
Week after Columbus Day Weekend - Interviews and Tours - Responsibility of Parents and Ninth Grade Boys
All Ninth Grade students and their parents are expected to participate in tours and interviews the week after Columbus Day weekend. Since all schools require an interview for a prospective student to be considered as a candidate, interviews are very important. Parents should directly contact the Admissions Offices of the secondary schools to arrange these appointments. Since tours and interviews can take up to two hours, families should visit only two schools each day. More than two schools visits on one day will be overwhelming for both parents and boys.
Meetings will occur with the Ninth Grade Class to discuss proper conduct and behavior for interviews and tours, but parents should also discuss the expected behavior of their son while on secondary school campuses. Many schools place a high level of emphasis on the interview and tour, so these visits should not be taken lightly. In some cases students are accepted or denied entrance to a school based on the interview.
Parents and boys often use school visits to help identify schools that may be a good fit. However, given the competitive market for secondary school students, Hillside recommends that all parents and boys be open to a wide variety of schools. Hillside does not recommend that boys and their parents “get their heart set” on one or even a few schools. Both parents and boys should be open to a wide array of schools.
Fall of Ninth Grade Year - The Application - Responsibility of Parents and 9th Grade Boys
Completing secondary school applications can be daunting, but the Standard Application Online (SAO) can make the process more streamlined. Families and boys may use the SAO to complete one application and one set of essays and send them to multiple secondary schools. Since more than 450 schools accept the SAO, Hillside recommends using this platform throughout the application process. Please click on the link above to learn more about the Standard Application Online and the schools that accept it.
While most schools require applications to be submitted by January 15th or January 30th, please check specific school websites for application deadlines.
Both parents and boys are required to complete essays for the SAO. While Hillside will offer broad guidance to the boys in their essay writing, the boys must be the catalyst behind this part of the process. Students may use weekends, evenings, Thanksgiving vacation and Winter vacation to work on their essays. Hillside recommends that all essays be completed by the end of Winter vacation, knowing that boys will use this vacation time to finalize their essays.
For the very few schools that do not accept the SAO, parents and boys will need to complete the applications of specific schools or utilize an often less used application platform called Gateway to Prep Schools.
Winter of Ninth Grade Year - Recommendations and Transcripts - Responsibility of Parents and Director of Secondary School Placement
Once parents and boys have decided which schools to apply to, parents should email the Director of Secondary School Placement with their list of schools. The Director will send recommendations and Hillside School transcripts to each school. The Director will send all recommendations and Hillside transcripts by January 10th, 2017.
While the SAO has specific teacher recommendation forms, Hillside will send its own recommendation forms on behalf of the boys. Parents and boys should not distribute the SAO recommendation forms to Hillside teachers as they will not complete them, but rather the Hillside form.
Hillside will send the following to the secondary schools on behalf of the student:
- Headmaster Recommendation
- English Teacher Recommendation
- Math Teacher Recommendation
- Character Recommendation
- Official Hillside School Transcripts
- Previous School Transcripts (if requested by specific secondary schools)
On the very rare occasion that a secondary school requires additional recommendations (example: Science teacher recommendation), parents must be in touch with this request. Secondary School Placement will arrange to have this recommendation completed and sent to the specific secondary school.
March 10th - Decision Day - Responsibility of Boys and Parents
Most secondary schools announce their applicant decisions on March 10th. While all schools are different, boys will likely receive email notifications. This is an exciting and anxious time for everyone involved. Parents should keep Hillside abreast of all admittances, wait list status and declines.
March 10th-April 10th - Revisit Days - Responsibility of Boys and Parents
Many schools offer revisit days for student to visit a school’s campus as an accepted student. Boys and their parents may take one last look at schools before they commit to a secondary school. Students and parents should check each school’s websites for their Revisit Day dates and times. Boys may miss two days of school for revisit days, and parents are responsible for taking their sons to revisit days.
April 10th - Commit to a Secondary School - Responsibility of Boys and Parents
While each school is different, for many secondary schools, April 10th is the last day for boys to inform schools that they will enroll. Boys and their parents should check individual school websites regarding required decision dates. Parents should inform the Director of Secondary School Placement of all final decisions.