Visiting schools on your short list is one of the most important parts of finding the right private school for your child. You cannot and must not skip this part of the process. Why? Well, the videos on YouTube and the glossy catalogs are excellent introductions to the schools which you have identified as possible matches for your requirements. They give you an overview of the school and its programs. Unfortunately, the schools have positioned those videos and photos to show the best features of their schools. Think Architectural Digest. Have you ever seen any clutter in an AD photo shoot? Of course not. Everybody puts their best foot forward. Same thing with schools. Here is an example of what I am talking about.
The school visit allows you to look at things which are not in the photos or mentioned in the catalog. The same rationale applies to you when you visit schools. Up to that point, you and your child are simply names on a list and a file folder. Your visiting gives the schools the opportunity to see who you are and to gauge your child's preparedness for the academic work ahead. So, when you visit schools, please don't make the following common mistakes. A little thought and preparation will help you make the best impression possible.
Being 10 minutes early for your appointment is sensible. That way you will have time to park and compose yourself and your child
Here is an overview of the private school admissions process, as well as the steps needed to find the right private school for your child. Depending on where you live, you will have several options from which to choose. I recommend that you look at every school objectively because you may discover that a school which you thought was not suitable, in fact, is one which you should evaluate in more detail. While private schools have missions which are fairly static and unchanging, they are constantly adding new programs, courses and activities to their mix to remain competitive. The market drives how successful private schools are. Parents have options. Private schools know that and will always try to match their offerings with what they know parents want.
An overview of the process
The school selection process has six components to it:
- discussion of your needs and requirements
- a quick review of available schools
- evaluation of a short list of schools
- visits and interviews
- the formal admissions application.
You will notice that a couple of the components on this list overlap. It is perfectly normal to be working on components in a different order from the one outlined above. This list is flexible and is merely a guide to help you work through what is a fairly lengthy eighteen month process. You will discover that some tasks take longer to complete than others. That is to be expected.
Discuss your requirements.
First things first. Figure out what your needs and requirements in a school are. Yes, it is all well
But you simply must take the time to read and understand those documents before you affix your signature and send off the deposit check.. Even if you happen to think that they are too long to read.
The two basic documents are the Contract and the Discipline/Honor Code. Not only should you read them carefully but make sure that your attorney reviews both documents as well. As Benjamin Franklin said so succinctly: "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." It makes more sense to understand what you are agreeing to before you sign rather than to discover material information after the fact. A contract is a legal document. It is enforceable in a court of law.
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.