Getting into private school, what we look for in a student, what life is like at SBS…
Yuri Francis, director of admissions at The Stony Brook School, answers 15 of the most popular questions from prospective parents.
1. What do you look for in a Stony Brook student?
One of the things we look for is character. Character plays a pretty large role in our admissions decisions, and we look for students who are kind, caring, and get along well with others.
Moving beyond that, we look for academic strength. We want to make sure that a student can get the job done in the classroom. What does that mean exactly? Generally, a B and above average. C’s can often be a red flag, but a student doesn’t necessarily have to be a straight A student in order to thrive in this environment.
Lastly, because we offer so much, we’re looking for students who can also make an impact outside the classroom. Whether that’s in performing arts or athletics or through community service.
2. Does SBS offer financial aid? How do I know if I qualify?
Yes, we do. Over 40% of our student body receives some form of financial aid.
We work with a third party company called TADS, and they are responsible for crunching numbers, analyzing financial situations, and estimating how much a family can afford for tuition. We then take that information into consideration when we’re making the final decision. Families can apply for financial aid through the TADS website. We have hyperlinks on our website that enable families to start the process.
3. What are the teachers like?
We identify and search for teachers who are experienced and have a passion for their craft. Our teachers here are highly skilled and trained. It’s actually pretty rare to find a recent college grad teaching in our classrooms. More than half of our faculty have received their graduate degree.
4. Are there opportunities for learning outside the classroom? Are internships available for students?
Our Entrepreneurial Program has taken the lead helping our 11th and 12th graders find internships during the school year. Our mini-courses, especially, have been wildly popular with students. I’ve heard students rave about the experiences they’ve had in this program, and we are looking forward to where the program will go in a couple years.
Learn more about our mini-course program here.
5. What safety measures is the School taking? How can I know my child is safe here?
We use a software application called Boardingware, which enables us to know the location of each student. The students themselves are responsible for using it, and there are consequences if they fail to do so. We also have a security unit on campus.
In terms of things we’re doing to enhance safety, we undergo drills frequently. Our students, faculty, and staff are trained to respond in the event of an emergency. So we work through those procedures to make sure we ensure the safety of our students, faculty, and staff.
In the dorm you’ll also find five faculty members serving as dorm parents. Two or more of these faculty members live in the dorms with their families. The team, as a whole, takes turns overseeing dorm life in the evenings and on weekends. These are really the go-to people for any issues in the dorm.
6. Are there study hours? When are they?
Yes, there are study hours. They typically run from 7:45 to 9:45 p.m. with faculty present to promote a productive and focused environment.
Actually, I would say that The Stony Brook School is one of the more structured schools as far as study hours go. When I first got here, I walked through the hallways and the dorms during study hours, and I was amazed to see the students in their rooms with the doors open and studying. I’ve worked at schools–I went to a school–where you didn’t have to actually study during your study hours.
7. How does the School address students with different learning speeds? Are there resources available for students struggling academically?
We have a learning services department with three programs of support available.
One program addresses the needs of students with a mild learning disability. A second program focuses on top performing students who are just looking for a few ways to take them to the next level, sort of an academic coaching in many regards. And we have a third program that falls in between those. Students in this program may not necessarily have a diagnosed learning disability, but might be struggling with their studies and need some extra coaching.
Click here to learn more about learning services offered at Stony Brook.
8. What about life outside of academics? Is there anything for students to do on the weekends?
There’s so much to do!
Our director of activities has lots of energy and one of his roles is to create a schedule of weekend activities for our students. There’s opportunity for trips to the mall, which is only 10-15 minutes away, to go shopping or out to eat. There could be a student dance on campus or even more innovative activities like watching movies on inflatables in the pool. Students have also left campus to play laser tag or go on bike rides with the head of school.
On a Friday night, there could be an Open Dorm. There are seven dorms on campus that take turns throughout the year hosting other students for snacks, games, movies. On a Saturday night, there could be an Open House at the homes of one of our on-campus faculty members until about 10:00 p.m. or so.
Still curious about activities offered outside the classroom? Visit our Student Life page here.
9. Is there an advantage to enrolling as a boarding student over a day student?
We are primarily a boarding school, but there are certainly advantages and benefits to both boarding and day. On one hand, I think boarding students have the unique benefit of living away from home. So when students do find themselves in college, it can be helpful that they’re already used to living away from Mom & Dad, doing their own laundry, and things of that nature.
Learn more about what to expect as a boarding student here.
On the other hand, day students are also encouraged to participate fully in community here on campus. Day students can attend dinners, Sunday Chapel, and other activities throughout the week, and most are typically here on campus until almost after 6:00 p.m. Day student life can enable students and families to participate in all Stony Brook has to offer, including parent-sponsored events, fundraising activities, and other community events on campus.
Because we are an international school, there is, however, certainly a mutual benefit shared by both boarding and day students in gaining a cultural competency from living and interacting with peers from different backgrounds and cultures. All of our students are exposed to learning from and working collaboratively with their fellow students from varying cultures. This is definitely a unique and really remarkable benefit of life at Stony Brook.
10. What is the percentage of international students at SBS? How does the School address and support cultural diversity?
Our international student population is about 30% or so.
Because we have a relatively large international population, we are intentional about creating community. One example of this effort is that we don’t allow students from the same citizenship to room together. So we wouldn’t have two kids who speak the same language rooming together because we want our students to have the experience of learning from someone who’s coming from a different background or different culture. And I think that’s the benefit of a Stony Brook education–you have the opportunity for that exposure. We want to give our students that opportunity as much as possible.
In other words, we encourage SBS students to think, work, and act like global citizens.
11. What athletic opportunities are available? If my child isn’t interested in sports, are they still required to compete?
There are a lot of sports to choose from. We offer around 15 different sports. Wrestling, swimming, tennis, golf, track & field, sailing, the list goes on and on.
For the kids who aren’t interested in athletics, we have our Theater Arts Society, Chess Club, Robotics, and Strength & Conditioning, which is offered in the fall and in the winter. So there are opportunities for “non-athletes” to choose from if they don’t have any interest in athletics. Students can also manage a team as an alternative.
If you’re interested in sports, follow our athletic department’s blog to check in on the Bears.
12. My child is determined to attend an Ivy League or highly selective school. Is Stony Brook worth the cost to help them get there?
In a graduating class at The Stony Brook School, if you’re in the top 20%, you’re very likely to have opportunities to go to Ivy League Schools and schools of that caliber or selectivity. So whether it’s Cornell, Yale, Stanford, Duke, UChicago, Carnegie Mellon, you’re going to have those options. Some of the NESCAC schools are popular as well, Williams, Tufts, Amherst, etc.
Our college counseling department is also building relationships with college admissions reps, so we do have college admissions officers visit The Stony Brook School throughout the late summer and early fall. These representatives both deliver presentations to our students and meet with our college counselor to learn more about the School. From what I’ve heard, we’re beginning to see the more selective schools coming on campus a lot more now than in the past.
13. What does your college counseling office look like?
Our college counseling department is a fully comprehensive service. They are the liaison between the family and student and the colleges. They act sort of like a consultant trying to help the student (and the family) get into the college of their choice. They proofread essays, help students develop their story, and refine their application in general.
We have two members in our college counseling office, and we’re adding a third this year. Right now, one member focuses on our 9th and 10th graders and the other focuses on 11th and 12th graders. Our third counselor will work with 11th and 12th graders.
Learn more about college counseling here.
14. How prepared is the School for the future?
Stony Brook is about to turn 100 years old in 2022, and so we certainly have given a lot of thought and consideration to the future of our School, these last few years maybe more than ever.
In terms of plans, we’re looking to build a STEM building–that’s one of the most popular programs on campus. And an arts building. Our goal is to raise money for financial aid as well as renovation of classrooms and our other academic buildings.
We’ve completed the renovation and installed new furniture to one of our two main academic buildings. We’ve replaced furniture in the remaining building, with plans to move forward on classroom renovation this summer. We also have plans in the works to renovate and enhance our student center.
15. What advice would you give a family or student looking to apply to Stony Brook?
Start the process early.
If you’re thinking about entering in Grade 9–which is our most popular entry point and a great time to start–do your research and your homework during Grade 7. That way, you have a whole year to attend some Open Houses, figure out which schools you actually want to apply to once you reach Grade 8.
That early research will pay off and put you in a really advantageous position–you’re not rushing, you know what your list looks like, you know all the important dates, and you also have information about the schools to advance to the interview stage.