Here are some of the frequently asked questions about admissions requirements, campus life, international applications, travel, and the boarding school experience.
Q: How do I apply?
A: Apply online. The application fee for domestic students is $50USD and the application fee for international students is $100USD. Students may also complete the Standard Application Online (SAO) through SSAT. We require a completed application, including the student and parent questionnaires, as well as teacher recommendations, grade transcripts, and testing. Students are encouraged to visit our campuses for a tour and personal interview.
Q: Can I schedule an interview via Skype?
A: Due to the high volume of applicants, we do not automatically provide Skype interviews. Our Admissions Committee will review applications following the January 15 application deadline and we will schedule interviews based on the strength of candidacy. Please understand we have limited space in our boarding program for students entering grades 9-11. We prefer to meet applicants in person and strongly encourage applicants to visit our campuses for a tour and personal interview. We also work with Vericant to schedule video interviews with our overseas applicants.
Q: Does OVS conduct interviews in other countries?
A: OVS conducts interviews when the Admissions team travels, but we rely on outside partners to assist with overseas applicants. To this end, we have partnered with Vericant to conduct video interviews and gather short writing samples with our applicants in China and other countries. Vericant does not evaluate candidates but, instead, posts the interviews online for our admissions team to review.
The Vericant interview gives applicants an excellent opportunity to showcase their personality and skills to our Admissions team and is a required component of the completed application. The interview deadline is February 1, 2017. Please be sure to continue the application process as the Admissions team may request an on-campus visit or Skype interview.
To learn more about Vericant and to schedule an interview, please visit Vericant’s Website.
Q: What is the application deadline?
A: The application deadline for high school candidates is January 15, 2017, to be considered in the first round of decisions. Candidates who apply after the deadline will be considered on a rolling basis, as space permits. There is no deadline for primary, middle or elementary student applications, but we recommend applying no later than March 1, 2017, as space fills quickly in most grades.
Q: When will I learn if I’ve been accepted?
A: All high school students who meet the application requirements and submit their applications by January 15, 2017, will be notified of the admission decision on March 10. Students who apply after the deadline will be notified as space is available. It is common for OVS to have a waitlist of candidates during the spring.
Q: Does OVS provide financial aid or merit scholarships? How many students typically receive tuition assistance?
A: OVS provides need-based financial aid to qualified candidates. Currently 31% of our students in grades PK-12 receive tuition assistance, either in the form of aid or scholarships. The school offers a limited number of merit and need-based scholarships for qualified candidates. Information about these scholarships is available on the Tuition, Aid and Scholarships page of the website.
Q: Does OVS enroll international students?
A: OVS enrolls international students from around the world and has done so for generations. Our first international students enrolled at OVS in the 1950s. Today, our Admissions team travels the globe to recruit outgoing, intellectually curious students who are eager to participate in all aspects of OVS campus life, including sports, performing arts, community service, and outdoor education. This year, we welcomed new and returning boarding students from 12 countries, including China, Switzerland, Russia, Germany, Mexico, Finland, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Kazakhstan, Spain and Tajikistan.
Q: What are the application requirements for international students?
A: The application requirements are the same for domestic and international students. However, international applicants must include current English test scores with the application. We accept the TOEFL, TOEFL Jr., SSAT, or the ISEE. Our SSAT code is: 5536 and our TOEFL code is: 9550.
Q: What are the minimum scores you will accept for international students entering grades 9 or 10?
A: We do not have a minimum score requirement because our Admissions Committee looks at more than just a student’s test scores in evaluating candidacy. The applicant’s interests, academic record, character, involvement in his or her school community, and interest in joining OVS are equally important. Our school offers ESL support for students developing their English skills, and as such we can consider students with intermediate language skills in the middle school grades. We prefer to see advanced English language learners at the high school level and consider an 80 TOEFL to be evidence of a student’s ability to enter our mainstream program.
Q: How many students are currently enrolled at OVS, and of those how many are international students?
A: At the Lower Campus, there are 174 students enrolled in grades PK-8, and 35 are elementary and middle school residents in grades 3-8. Of those, 19 are international students from China, Korea, Japan, and Russia. At the Upper Campus, there are 120 high school students in grades 9-12. Of those, 84 are residents and about half of those are international students.
Q: Can OVS issue me a student visa?
A: Ojai Valley School is authorized under federal law to enroll non-immigrant students, and can issue the necessary documents to apply for a F-1 student visa.
Travel and Calendar
Q: When does the 2016-17 school year begin?
A: OVS begins September 3 and 4 with registration and orientation for new and returning students on both campuses. Please check with the Admissions Office on specific times to arrive with your student.
Q: Does OVS provide airport transportation?
A: Ojai Valley School provides transportation from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to resident students for the start and end of the school year, as well as for vacation breaks. All flights must be scheduled to arrive and depart between 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. PST. There is a $75 fee for airport transportation and a $45 fee per hour for unaccompanied minors.
School Community and Campus Life
Q: Are OVS students required to wear a uniform?
A: No, OVS students do not have to wear a uniform. The dress code varies by campus and is discussed in the Lower Campus Student Handbook (grades PK-8) and the Upper Campus Student Handbook (grades 9-12).
Q: How many students share a dorm room?
A: Typically, there are two students per room. Boys and girls live in separate dormitories on campus.
Q: Are all OVS students expected to go camping?
A: Yes! We believe that Outdoor Education is essential to developing Integer Vitae – our mission to develop balanced, well-rounded people – and therefore full participation in this program is mandatory for all students in grades 2-12. Various age-appropriate activities occur throughout the year. Students learn to overcome real challenges that may be physical, social, organizational, and personal. Destinations in recent years have included Yosemite National Park, Sequoia National Park, Joshua Tree National Park, Zion National Park, Grand Canyon National Park, and other national forests and state parks too numerous to list.
Q: OVS has an equestrian program, but does that mean all students are required to ride horse?
A: No, students are not required to ride horses, but the OVS Equestrian Program is unique in the western United States and extremely popular with students who come from around the world to participate. Currently, more than 50 students in grades 4-12 participate each sports season. OVS Equestrians mostly ride English and chose to ride as their sport in middle and high school. They also participate in horse camping trips, clinics and regional shows. The school maintains two stables, one on each campus, and is a U.S. Pony Club Riding Center. Students can ride school horses or bring their own horses to school.
General Questions about Boarding School:
Q: How well prepared for college are boarding school students compared to those coming from private day or public schools?
A: The academics in most boarding schools are rigorous, but also come with tremendous support from involved teachers and motivated peers. Students are provided greater time to learn, explore, and participate and as a result they typically find greater success at the university level and beyond. Consider that a survey by The Association of Boarding Schools (TABS) found that 87% of boarding school graduates reported that they were very well prepared for college academically compared to 71% of private day school graduates and 39% of public school graduates. The majority also reported that boarding school helped them develop self-discipline, maturity, independence, and the ability to think critically.
Q: How well do teachers at OVS get to know me?
A: One of the greatest benefits of an OVS education is the connection students develop with dedicated teachers who get to know them very well. Teachers are able to provide a high degree of individualized instruction in small classes where students are surrounded by motivated peers and a challenging course of study. As with most boarding schools, the faculty also serve as dorm parents, coaches, mentors and advisors. They participate in outdoor excursions, performing arts, and weekend outings to create a genuine sense of community. The faculty support students every step of the way and they often form lasting relationships with students that extend beyond middle and high school. This is true at most boarding schools, where a TABS survey showed that 90% of boarders reported having great, high quality teachers while only 62% of private day school students and 51% of public school students reported having great teachers. But it is especially true at OVS where the resident experience for many students begins in the younger elementary and middle school grades.
Q: I’ve heard that boarding schools are for problem students or teens with troubled home lives, is that true?
A: Not at all. Consider that 60% of students who apply to boarding schools do so primarily for the opportunity to get a better education. About 86% of boarding school students say they are very satisfied or somewhat satisfied with their family life when the start at boarding school. At OVS, all our graduates go on to attend colleges or universities, which demonstrates the motivation of our students to succeed and the support their receive from their families.