Many applicants live at great distances from the schools which they would like to visit. If you live in Asia or Europe, for example, it is not always financially or logistically possible to visit schools in person. What alternatives exist for those situations? Actually several. Off campus, school visits come in a couple of flavors.
Admissions Staff Visits Overseas
Many private schools send their admissions staff overseas to major cities in countries where they have a substantial applicant pool. Ask for details of visits in your area. While you will have to rely on the school's video and web presentations of its school life and activities, at least you will have a live person to whom you can pose questions. If English is not your first language, this meeting with school officials will give you a deadline to meet. After all, you are planning to attend school in a country where English is the instructional language used in most classes. You will be expected to have your interview in English.
This video describes the features of private schools.
Interviews With Local Alumni
Just like many universities and colleges do, private schools also will arrange an interview with an alumnus or alumna who lives in your local area. This is a quite common practice for meeting candidates who live here in the United States. Remember that most schools are looking for qualified candidates who may not have considered applying because of financial constraints. If you cannot afford to pay the school fees, chances are that you cannot afford to travel to the school itself either. That's why the school will come to you if it feels you have the qualifications it is looking for.
This part of the admissions process is critical for all concerned. The school needs to actually meet you and get a sense of who you are and what you offer. You need to determine if the school is a good fit for your needs and objectives.
This video describes how to handle an admissions interview with an alumnus. While it references college admissions, the same applies to private schools.
Learning About The School
Many parents feel that they know a school because they have spent time on its website. They 'liked' the school's Facebook page and are following it on Twitter. They also have watched all the YouTube videos the school has posted on its YouTube channel. They and their child are convinced that the school is a good fit for them and their requirements. So why bother actually hopping on a plane, renting a car, booking accommodation and taking all that time to go and visit the school? It goes without saying that you need to visit any school to which you are thinking of sending your child if at all possible. The school will insist on it because they want to meet you in person whenever possible.
Your educational consultant may have given the schools glowing reports. Your great uncle has always spoken about his years at one of the schools on your shortlist with great fondness. In fact, he has given generously to his alma mater. One of your colleagues in the Boston office has a daughter at another school on your shortlist. She apparently loves her school's equestrian program. But that's their opinion. You and your child need to set foot on each campus on your shortlist, scope each one out and use your own judgment to determine whether your child will be happy there for three or four years.
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