Northwood Takes New Approach to Admissions Process


Brad D’Arco, Director of Admission and Financial Aid

The Northwood admissions office has undergone a lot of change in the past year, and they received a record number of applicants for next fall. This year, to congratulate students on their acceptances the admissions office made personalized videos for each student who was accepted. Mr. Brad D’Arco, Director of Admissions and Financial Aid, said, “Northwood is now on a traditional admissions deadline with a January 31st application deadline, and a March 10th decision, so most of the students who applied and were admitted, will be admitted to other boarding schools as well.”

Regarding the videos, D’Arco said admitted students “will be getting acceptance packets from three or four other schools at the same time they receive ours. We wanted to do something to distinguish ourselves. Although ninety videos is a lot, we are trying to show the students that because we are a small school and a small community we already know who the students are and what they’re interests are before they are enrolled. We are trying to highlight that as an appealing feature about Northwood to those students.”

ASD2For the videos Mr. D’Arco teamed up with Creative Director Mr. Michael Aldridge to make personalized videos for each of the accepted students. After the admissions office finished making decisions, they went back through the applications to identify specific interests, and Mr. Aldridge matched up kids with Northwood people based on their interest. For example students who are into the outdoors received greetings from outdoor program Mr. Don Mellor and hockey players received greetings from Junior Team Head Coach Chadd Cassidy. Each video included at least three teachers and a couple of students. Aldridge also used a drone to record spectacular an aerial footage of the campus, which was definitely an outstanding aspect of the project.

The feedback on the videos has been positive. Mr. Aldridge said “the admissions office received some emails and it looks like people really appreciated [the videos]. As a new student coming into a school it must be nice to have someone personally greet them and know who they are.” Aldridge went on to add that he “would think we would continue to do them, and after going through process once I can see how we can make them even better next year and maybe customize them even more.”

There were well over 200 applicants during this admission cycle, a huge increase from previous years. The acceptance rate was 39%, which makes it a more competitive applicant pool than Northwood has had in many years.

ASD1Another change was that forty-two of the ninety admitted students are 9th graders, which likely means a much larger ninth grade class. There are twenty-eight ninth graders this year, and only 9 the year before. Also remarkable is that of that group of admitted ninth graders, only one plays boys hockey.

“The reduction in boys hockey teams next year [from three teams to two],” Mr. D’Arco said, “has allowed our admission office and our coaching staff to be focused on a smaller number of players, to be more selective, and to really dial in on the students who are gonna have the greatest impact on our school and on our program,” said D’Arco. “I believe that those steps, as strong as our athletic programs our now, is gonna make them even stronger.”

Mr. D’Arco credits the increase in applicants to a couple of simple reasons. “Northwood is fortunate to have a larger admission office now,” he said. “From September through December myself, Ms. Wardlaw, and Mr. Neilson, traveled to 14 countries, and 25 states to promote Northwood School more broadly. Northwood has always had a great community, great academic programs, and strong athletics, but most people only knew about athletics,” said D’Arco. “So what we did was really shift the idea, and talk a lot about some of our new academic programs like Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Design, and the LEAP program. Doing that allowed us to receive more applications from students looking at the school for academic reasons while still remaining attractive to students for athletic reasons.”

The final step of the admissions process was two Revisit Days, coordinated by Associate Director of Admissions Ms. Carrie Wardlaw. During Revisit Days admitted students came back to campus, sat in on some classes and got an even better feel for Northwood. This was the first year Northwood has offered Revisit Days, Mrs. Wardlaw said, “because we knew our applicant pool was so talented, and all of our admitted students had other acceptances, so we wanted to give them all a chance to come back and go through a full day at Northwood. We knew that if they really get to know us then we’d have a chance to get them here in the fall.” Both Revisit Days were full, and the admissions office received positive feedback from the visiting students and their families, many of which have committed to Northwood.


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