First, you need to determine if the schools to which your student is applying use an application platform that standardizes the schools’ applications (much like the Common Application used to apply to college), or if the schools require completing individual applications per their respective websites.
The two application platforms used by boarding schools are the Standard Application Online (SAO) by the Enrollment Management Association and Gateway to Prep Schools by Applications Online. Note that the SAO platform adds a service charge to each school’s application fee, so consider using the Gateway portal if the schools your pupil is applying to use both platforms, thus providing you with a choice of platforms.
Using an application platform is efficient because it prevents families from having to enter repetitive information for each school application. The student profile, parent statements, and student essays are shared among the schools via the application platform. Additionally, the platforms allow the individuals who are completing the recommendations to submit one recommendation for all of the schools (in most cases). This prevents teachers, guidance counselors, coaches, and personal connections from having to complete multiple recommendations.
Most schools also allow applicants to apply via the schools’ individual websites. This is recommended only if the school does not allow applications via SAO or Gateway. The schools typically do not assess a service charge in addition to the application fee.