Student-MadeJan 3, 2021

— updated Jan 12, 2021

Turning the tables on admissions

Samara Kangethe ’22 flips the normal admissions script and interviews Ali Haas, our Associate Director of Admissions

On November 8, 2020, Samara Kangethe ’22 sat down with Ali Haas, our Associate Director of Admissions, for a student-eye-view of the boarding school admissions process. Sam and Ali had first met at an admissions fair last year and shared a conversation that convinced Sam Miss Hall’s is the place for her.

Sam matriculated this year as an 11th grade boarding student and is now a Horizons intern in the School’s marketing and communications office, focused on storytelling.

Sam asked Ali questions about admissions today and how the global pandemic has affected the application process. This authentic conversation reveals much about the ethos of Miss Hall’s.

Sam: What are you and your team looking for in a prospective student?

Ali: We are not looking for one-size-fits-all. It’s really about a student that wants to try new things, is excited about coming here, excited about the all-girls aspect. Someone who’s curious and wants to come out of their shell or be pushed a little. And that doesn't have to be dramatic. It could be through a sport, through art, or through exploration in a new kind of science — something new to you.

Sam: Does presentation matter in the interview process?

Ali: “Dress for the job” is the dress code at our school, and this also holds true for admissions interviews. You do not have to overdo it for us at Miss Hall’s.

Sam: Is there a certain line that can be crossed to make the Admissions team say no to an applicant?

Ali: We have a whole committee that meets to discuss each applicant in depth, so there is a lot of input from multiple people in decision making about prospective students. If you're an "A" student on your transcript, but maybe didn't do too well on your test, we take everything into consideration. We understand that not every student tests well. There are eyes on every candidate, from every department, and it takes a village.

What we really want to see is a student’s drive and the connection between the student and the School. I've never really had a hard "no" with someone, unless it's something glaring, such as if a student says she was dragged here by her family. That could be a flag. I often hear from students that Miss Hall’s feels like home, a signal that the community piece is present.

Sam: Does background(racial and/or economic) have an impact on your decision?

Ali: We work with a number of programs that represent students coming from areas where the school system might not be great. We spend a lot of time working with different people to intentionally make sure we have representation from everywhere. I think that different backgrounds make people more interesting. I do not think that is anything to hold a student back at all.

Economically, we follow the same pattern. We have a personalized tuition model, and we try to meet every family where they are. We don't want someone to struggle so hard that they are choosing between putting food on their table and sending their daughter to Miss Halls. We are conscious of those factors and never discourage an applicant. We try really hard with everyone to make it work. We try and make it so that every student that deserves to be at MHS can be here. We would rather have a kid who wants to be here and put in the effort to be here than have a kid that thinks they can waltz in here because they can sign that check. When we are making decisions about a student, we don’t even look at the money part, so that there is no implicit bias.

January 3, 2021

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Sam: Tell me more about Personalized Family Tuition.

Ali: MHS has a new tuition model that allows families to calculate their tuition up front by inputting a few key pieces of info: household income, assets, family size, and number of students enrolled. With this information, our calculator instantly estimates where in the tuition range a family may fall. This helps families gauge feasibility at the get-go.

Sam: Do you have any last words of advice for applicants preparing for an interview?

Ali: It's okay to be nervous. It’s okay if you forget something. The interview process is more of a conversation. The Admissions team understands that you have a lot of things on your mind — all the points you want to make.

For me, the interview process is more of a conversation. I want to get to know each student, what excites them, maybe even what scares them, to see how Miss Hall's can help.