Middle School students in 8th grade prepare for their upcoming high school interviews by taking part in Mock Interviews. Our approach is to frame these meetings as ‘conversations’ rather than interviews. Conversations are two way and involve natural sharing, where as interviews seem stiff and formal and one-way as the ‘interviewer’ asks questions and the passive applicant responds. Prior to the conversation, they are instructed in what to wear for an interview, how to ask and answer meaningful questions, and how to present themselves in their best light. School administrators simulate a real admissions experience as much as is possible, and later give them thorough feedback. Students report that this Mock Interview greatly helps reduce the nervousness of the application and interview process at the independent schools to which they are applying. This is part of their instruction and guidance in transitioning to the next phase of their educational journey.
Throughout the student’s time in middle school, teachers keep in mind two main questions:
1) What do middle school-aged students need during this stage of their development?
2) What skills will they need for high school?
As a result of these questions, over the course of their three years in middle school, we provide a nurturing, safe learning community where they can continue their academic learning while also coming to understand themselves better as learners. We provide them with the experiences and coaching they need to develop creative problem-solving strategies, flexible thinking, resilience, and grit, among many other skills and characteristics.
In their 8th grade year, students also receive coaching about their high school years. Students receive practice and tips for applying to independent high schools if that choice works for their families. Families meet with us at the beginning of the year, and then we help students prepare for applications and essays, we coach them about interviewing and hold mock interviews, and we do SSAT (Secondary School Admissions Test) practice. Later in the year, we also discuss strategies for entering a new school and handling multiple classes and teachers, etc. As standardized testing is not something students have had practice with, new this year, students will take a practice SSAT during school. Students also take a FLEX test, which can be used diagnostically to assess areas each student should focus on in preparation for taking the SSAT.