By Michael Earley, Assistant Head of School
One fundamental difference between public schools and independent schools is that independent schools like Falmouth Academy can intentionally create a strong and distinctive school culture. Our culture gets perpetuated in all kinds of ways. Mostly we pass it down through role modeling by older students and faculty, but the admissions process also plays a role. Just as parents choose a school for its philosophy, values, and approach to teaching, schools select those students they feel best fit their unique culture.
At every step in our process, we remain alert to many clues that show if applicants are right for Falmouth Academy – and if this is the right school for them. Our experience shows that the following characteristics correlate strongly to happiness and success here.
Success in your previous school. This is far and away the best indicator of success here (which should be no surprise). It is also the part of the application that the applicant can control the most. We ask for two current teachers to write lengthy recommendations. These letters often tell us far more about applicants than their report cards. They tell us about character and personality as well as academic work. How do they work in a team? How do they respond to adversity? Do they treat their classmates and teachers with respect?
Engagement in your classes. We look for students who speak up in class, who are comfortable asking questions, and who listen well.
Potential for involvement in the life of the school beyond the classroom. We have found that getting involved in school life outside the classroom – acting in plays, serving on Student Council, playing sports or music, or pursuing other interests here – helps students enjoy school more and manage their time effectively. We know that involvement beyond the classroom creates social connections with classmates in all grades and helps students build self-esteem and leadership skills as they discover and employ some of their strengths.
Love of learning. This can come shining through at any point in the process, and experienced admissions officers recognize it immediately when they see it.
A habit of reading. Applicants don’t have to love reading to be a good fit for Falmouth Academy (although it certainly never hurts). However, reading will be part of their daily routine here. We have found that the more applicants read, the easier it is for them to keep up with their work and make those important learning connections.
Having parents or guardians who value education. Parents who are engaged in their child’s education and fully believe in our mission are the best support system, and applicants who have such good cheerleaders tend to be successful in our program.
If an applicant can check off all or most of the above, admissions committees are going to be impressed, and the candidate will be happy and successful at school.