Dean of Admission's Blog
Myth vs. Reality in Keystone Admission
One of my son’s favorite television shows is called “Myth Busters”. In the show two special effects experts use the scientific method to test whether various myths, online rumors, or extraordinary movie scenes are actually true or possible. The show is not only great entertainment; it’s also an opportunity to settle age-old arguments over fact vs. fiction. While the world of admission is not as exciting as testing whether eating pop rocks with soda will make your stomach explode, it is still filled with misunderstandings, myths and rumors about how things actually work. So this is my attempt to do a little “myth-busting” of my own to help families separate the facts from some of the fiction out there about the Keystone admission process.
Myth #1 Keystone is a school that only enrolls kids from rich families.
This is perhaps the most important rumor to dispel. Even before we started our first admission season, Keystone has been committed to enrolling the best students in our school, regardless of their socioeconomic circumstances. For this reason, we have had a scholarship program in place from the very beginning. While no school has enough scholarship funds to support every student, we are committed to supporting as many deserving students as we can through our scholarship program and encouraging all bright students to consider Keystone as a viable option.
Myth #2 Keystone’s curriculum is very interesting, so my kid will be able to study here very easily and without any pressure.
I agree that the Keystone curriculum is interesting, exciting and engaging, but it is not without pressure. Scottish philosopher Thomas Carlyle is credited with saying “no pressure, no diamonds.” It is the unique circumstance of intense heat and intense pressure near the Earth’s core that creates the unique beauty, strength and clarity found in the best diamonds. But, if you don’t get the conditions just right, and you have too much pressure, even the toughest gems can become flawed or ultimately be destroyed. A good school needs to strive for the kind of balance that produces the best diamonds. Students need to be challenged to help them reach their potential, but not pressured to the breaking point. At Keystone we work every day to try to get that balance right.
Myth #3 Keystone graduates can apply to all universities around the world, including Chinese universities.
Keystone’s selection of the IB curriculum means that our graduate’s credentials will be widely recognized by more than 2000 colleges and universities in 90 countries around the world. At this point it time, however, Chinese universities are not among those who will accept the IB Diploma. Universities in China currently rely on the gaokao for their admission decisions, and Keystone’s program does not center on preparing students for the gaokao. The students in our program, therefore, are focused on attending university overseas. It is our hope, however, that as the education systems in China evolve, it may become possible for our students to consider universities closer to home as well.
Myths #4 & 5 My child’s English is good enough, so he will definitely be admitted. OR
My kid scored well in SSAT and ISEE, so he will definitely be admitted.
Tests scores and English language levels are two of the many factors we consider when choosing students to attend Keystone and they are not always the most important ones. Keystone is looking for students who are ready to take on the demands of our rigorous bilingual program, and who are enthusiastic about engaging in our co-curricular and residential life programs. If we have a student with good English or strong test scores, but poor work habits and motivation, s/he might not be a good fit for us. Similarly, we might have a student with lower test scores or English skills who has the commitment, determination, and work ethic necessary to become a strong contributor to our community.
Myth #6 Keystone admits students of each grade every year.
Keystone has six key entry points where we add students into our program: Foundation year, grade one, grade six, grade seven, grade nine, and grade ten. These entry points occur at natural transition points for students from both international and local school systems. Each year, we plan to accept additional students into these grade levels. While we do not plan to add openings at other grades, we do continue to accept applications for the waitlist in all of our grade levels, in case any openings become available through attrition.
Myth #7 My child’s name is on the waiting list, so once a space becomes available, my kid will be admitted first.
In the 2014-2015 admission season, we placed more than 330 students on our waiting list. What we call our “waiting list” is truly more of a “wait pool” of all the students who chose to remain on the list. Any student who stays active on the waiting list will be considered if a place becomes available. We do not rank the list in any way and will consider each applicant’s strengths as well as the composition of the class as we make our decisions. If, for example, the class has more boys than girls, we might consider only girls from the list in an effort to maintain gender balance in the class.
Myth #8 If my child is on the waiting list, then she does not need to go through the application procedure again.
Students are required to go through the application process each year. Our children grow and mature a great deal from year to year, especially through elementary and middle school. It order to have the most accurate picture we can of our applicants, we want to have the most current reflection of that growth. Sometime parents ask me if they can resubmit materials from last year’s application. I always give them the opportunity to use the parent statement they wrote last year, if they still feel it is an accurate description of their child. In almost every case where I have given this option, parents have chosen to revise and update their comments.
Myth #9 Since there is no English requirement or any other test for grade one and foundation year applicants, these two grades are the easiest to be admitted into.
While it is true that we do not have a minimum English requirement for foundation or grade one, these grades are still very competitive because we have so many families applying. In the 2014-2015 admission season, we had more than 300 students apply to foundation and grade one.
Myth # 10 Consultants and teachers from an advising institute can help us succeed
in the Keystone interview and application process.
While Keystone is a new school, we are already hearing about advisers who guarantee that they can get a student a place in our school. There are many things that can help a student to prepare themselves for Keystone—such as developing their English reading and writing skills, or performing their best in school—but these are things a student needs to do for themselves. While some advisers can be helpful resources or provide students with opportunities to practice their skills, paying an adviser is no guarantee that a student will be offered a place at Keystone. The Academy does not have any relationships with specific advisers nor do we pay fees to agents who encourage students to consider Keystone.
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