Rankings aren’t supposed to be important when it comes to choosing a school. When comparing boarding schools, which embrace a diversity of educational approaches and environments, finding the right “fit” for each students is more important than overall ranking. Ideally, theres a right place for every student.

For Chinese students, however, a more important piece of information is which schools are top destinations for their peers that admissions cycle. An informal poll conducted by a Chinese student last month asked Internet-surfing peers which schools they had applied to, presumably to see how competitive the application pool was for Fall 2013 admission.

The list is as follows, limited to 50 schools:

Rankings School
1 Choate Rosemary Hall
2 St. Mark’s
3 Cranbrook
4 Northfield Mount Hermon
5 Tabor
6 Hotchkiss
7 Deerfield
8 Governor’s
9 Peddie
10 Loomis
11 Groton
12 Portsmouth Abbey
13 Pomfret
14 Middlesex
15 Taft
16 Blair
17 Concord
18 Masters
19 Mercersburg
20 Culver
21 St.Andrew’s (DE)
22 Hill
23 Hun
24 Lawrenceville
25 Westtown
26 Phillips Andover
27 Stony Brook
28 Berkshire
29 Asheville
30 Brooks
31 EHS
32 Phillips Exeter
33 Webb (CA)
34 Williston Northampton
35 Western Reserve
36 Canterbury
37 Emma Willard
38 Suffield
39 Wyoming Seminary
40 CSW
41 George
42 Hockaday
43 Madeira
44 Stevenson
45 Thacher
46 St.Paul’s
47 Baylor
48 Dana Hall
49 Miss Hall’s
50 St. Stephen’s Episcopal

We should caution that this informal poll took in about 900 votes spread out over a long list of schools, so the 10 or 20 schools with the most votes didn’t receive a significantly higher number of votes than other schools.

There seems to be no rhyme or reason to how these students voted. (It certainly would have been interesting to see a poll broken down into rankings based on things like college placement, international student ratio, or availability of ESL classes.) However, this popularity contest had one informal function for the students: to gauge their own chances of admission.

The schools to receive the most votes were perceived as more likely to be competitive. At least, that’s how some participants and bystanders seemed to feel about the numbers. A few commenters wailed about how competitive their favored school was, begging others not to apply and take their places. (Remember, these are teens.)

Meanwhile, as boarding schools become increasingly competitive, more Chinese students are chattering about day schools. Perhaps as Chinese students and families become more familiar with the concept of day schools, there will be a place for every student who wishes to go abroad.



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