The focus of the Far Hills secondary school placement program is on finding the best "fit" school for each child so that they might thrive academically, realize and explore their co-curricular interests and passions, and pursue their co-curricular interests. A school is an excellent fit when it challenges a child to reach their academic potential while building confidence, developing character, and cultivating relevant skills in preparation for college and the professional world. A best fit school values and celebrates its students' talents and contributions. It is a supportive, enriching community of teachers committed to educating the whole child. It is a perfect extension of Far Hills.
The annual Far Hills Secondary School Fair presents a wonderful opportunity for families to find that best fit school. It is an exciting tradition and one that is uniquely ours. Each year, more than 120 admission representatives from the best schools in the country come to Far Hills to showcase their schools among our students and families. This Thursday, we are excited to welcome admission representatives as well as students from around the region—from public schools, from independent schools, some travel with their families, some travel by bus with their entire grade. They are all invited to benefit from our strong relationships with these prestigious schools.
Far Hills families are known for searching far and wide in search of that best fit for the next stop on the educational journey. Boarding school is very much a part of the Far Hills DNA. Historically almost 40% of our graduates have chosen to attend boarding school, and for most, that journey started at our secondary school fair. Last week members of the Class of 2019 started at Avon Old Farms School, Berkshire School, Blair Academy, Hotchkiss School, The Lawrenceville School, Middlesex School, Phillips Academy Andover, Phillips Exeter Academy, St. Andrew's School, and St. Paul's School.
Locally, our families are spoiled for choice. In the last five years, we have sent more than twenty students to Delbarton School, Morristown-Beard School, and Gill St. Bernard's School. Every year our graduates also head off to Kent Place School, Newark Academy, Pingry School, Oak Knoll School, Rutgers Prep, Seton Hall Prep, and the Academy of St. Elizabeth's.
My advice about how Grade 7–8 students should prepare for interviews and open house events:
- Prepare to introduce yourself and shake a lot of hands. Making a good first impression is always important! Parents, let your child lead the introduction and conversation. They should be prepared to introduce themselves with eye contact and a firm handshake. While this is by no means a formal interview, students should be prepared to answer a few questions. They may be asked: "How is the school year going?" or they could be asked about their interests in the arts or athletics. If you find yourself at a boarding school table, you might be asked about your familiarity with boarding school or the school itself. That is about the extent of questions—admission guests will be charming and friendly. Their goal is to be remembered for next year and to generate interest and curiosity.
- Plan to cast a wide net: Some families will walk into a fair with a working list of schools that they want to speak with, while others will arrive without a clue. I would suggest that you meet somewhere in the middle of these two scenarios. You should absolutely know which schools are attending the fair, but you don't need to arrive with a refined list. My suggestion is to let your child determine which school representatives h/she would like to visit. After this, take them to a few more tables that interest you before leaving the fair. Be sure to visit a wide variety of schools, as this is an opportunity to ask questions and learn more about each institution while in one centralized location.
- Ask questions: every school is different! Try to get a sense of the traditions, signature programs, and culture that makes every school different.
- Reflect on your experience and consider the following questions: Which schools interested you the most? Which schools surprised you? Has your vision for high school changed? And don't forget to write a thank-you note to a representative that made a great impression on you. Admission officers have an uncanny ability to remember!
The annual Far Hills Secondary School Fair is a fantastic occasion and will be sure to generate exciting conversations at home! See you there!
—Director of Upper School and Secondary School Placement