The Private School Interview

The independent school admissions process varies greatly from one school to another. There is, however, one critical requirement that is truly universal--the interview.  Students who apply to an independent school for admission to grades 6-12 are required to meet with an admissions officer in a one-on-one or small group setting.  You worry as a parent that your child simply can’t have the maturity or know-how to converse in the manner required with a strange adult who is lobbing questions at your child.   Yes, this can be anxiety producing for even the most savvy-minded parent.  But, I’d like to help reframe your thinking on the admissions interview.  
 

 
 
A Window into Your Child's Personality

The interview offers an admissions committee a window into your child’s personality--his or her academic and extra-curricular interests, unique passions, and other skills that matter to your son or daughter.  Keep in mind that the interview can be as short as 10 minutes for a younger child and up to 45 for the high school candidate.  The interviewer is focused on evaluating your child’s academic potential and overall personality by engaging them in a guided conversation that centers on your child’s current school experience, particular strengths--academic, as well as, athletic, artistic, service, leadership, and other special interests.
 
It may help to think of the interview as a detailed conversation for your child with a trained teacher.  It is the job of the admissions officer to establish a rapport with your child.  Admissions officers . . .read more
Thinking about sending your child to private school? There are many reasons why you should consider sending your child to private school. What is important as you begin this process is not to reinvent the wheel. Most of us parents have had the same concerns as you are having about your child's education. We all want our children to receive the very best education possible so that they are positioned for success in later life.

Start by writing down all the reasons which you can think of for wanting to give your child a private school education. Then compare them with my four top reasons for doing that.
 
1. You want your child to receive specialized instruction from well-qualified instructors. 

For example, perhaps she has special needs.You can certainly arrange for your local public school to develop an IEP or Individualized Education Program for your child. This is mandated by a federal law known as Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. While your child's needs will certainly be identified and a program of instruction devised for her, you would be wise to explore the options a specialized private school offers. Why? Because depending on the public school district in your area resources often are spread very thin. When you send your child to private school for special needs, she will be taught by credentialled, highly skilled teachers and paraprofessionals throughout the school day. The small class in this photo says it all.

 
This article is one of three which address the advantages of sending your child to private school. Private schools offer several advantages specific to students of which you as a parent need to be aware. Here are three of them.
 
1. Your child will build a network of friends which she will have for life.
 
Some of you may wonder why I would put this benefit for students at the top of my list. That's because I sincerely believe that networking is the key to success in just about everything these days. Because most private schools are fairly small communities - the typical private high school is about 350 students - your child will have a really good chance of getting to know almost everybody in the school community, especially her classmates. While your child may come from an entirely different background, perhaps even country, from her classmates, she will get to know everybody in the classroom as well as on the playing field and on the stage. With social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Instagram and LinkedIn providing instantaneous communications these days, it is fairly easy to keep that high school network of friends going after she graduates. 
 
This close-knit network of friends from school will help open doors for years after she graduates. The bonds of friendship developed in private school are an important advantage for a private school student as she begins her career.
 
Private schools are able to build team spirit and school pride because everybody is on . . .read more
I am often asked what benefits there are for parents when they send their children to private school. The quintessential "What's in it for me?" is a legitimate question. After all you are thinking about sending your baby off to a school where you are being told she will work hard, learn how to get along with others and be involved in all kinds of activities. And it is going to cost you a small fortune to boot.
Your concerns are well-founded. So against that backdrop let's examine what I personally consider to be the three main benefits for us parents of sending our children to private school. Lest you think that I am speculating or theorizing, all four of our children went to private school. All grades too. Nursery school. Elementary school. Middle School and high school. So I speak from my own experience as a private school parent. 

1. Knowing that your child will receive a comprehensive education: academics, sports and extracurricular activities.
 
 
Private schools educate the whole child. Educating the whole child requires an integrated program of academic studies, athletics and extracurricular activities. Essentially a private school is going to pick up where you left off when you sent her to school. 
 
You have invested some serious time raising your child. Remember how you did it? Always a variety of activities. Always encouraging your child to do things she didn't know she could do. Always stimulating that little mind. Always inculcating a love of . . .read more
Have you ever begun a project only to realize after a while that you really didn't know what you were doing? It's kind of like the guy who opens the box with 100 parts. Some assembly required. Does he read the directions? Probably only when he gets stuck.
 
When you set out to choose a private school for your child, you need a clear road-map for the process. You also need to understand that this is a major project which will consume a substantial amount of your valuable time.
 
How much time will it take?
 

* Researching schools online: 20-30 hours spread out over 4-6 weeks. This task can be done in the comfort of your own home on your own time.
 
* Visiting out of town schools: 36-60 hours spread out over 3 or 4 visits. The amount of time consumed by travel is the wild card here. The actual campus visit will usually include an interview with the admissions staff. Allow about an hour for testing. 
 
* Visiting local schools: 10-15 hours spread out over 2 or 3 visits. Interviews and any testing which the schools require will add an hour or two.
 

Signs that you may be doing it wrong
 

As you can see choosing a private school is a project. A major project. Get it wrong and you will have a very unhappy child who hates her school. It's also possible that your child won't even get into a school. So, before you get that sinking feeling that you . . .read more
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