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Private School Application Process

This page covers:

  • Completing the written application to private schools
  • Doing the parent interview at private schools
  • Preparing your child for a private school visit/assessment

Considering going the private school route?  You may soon re-live the stress of applying to colleges – complete with written composition, interviews and visits.  Hopefully these tips will help you feel like you have it under control:

More: The über scoop on Private Schools -&- Assessing the Financial Health of a Private School

Written Applications

They vary from filling out a basic form with name, address, DOB to answering several probing questions in mini-essay form. Most will require some forethought, so be prepared to:

  • Give thoughtful answers regarding your child’s strengths, challenges, and favorite activities. 
  • Answer why you think your child would thrive at school X, all the while demonstrating that you really understand what the school has to offer without seeming too brown nosey. 
  • Hit up your child’s current teacher (preschool or otherwise) for a letter of recommendation. Have a nice thank you gesture at the ready.
  • Be genuine in your responses while putting your best foot forward.
  • Check and re-check for typos. Don’t leave it up to your spellchecker.

Parent Interviews

These tend to take place without your child present.  They might be very casual, with the school sizing you up on a private tour – or they could take the form of a scheduled interview. Either way, you should:

  • Anticipate questions so you can come up with reasonably confident answers.
  • Be prepared to divulge weaknesses in your child in a positive but honest manner.
  • Know what you want (and make it fit what the school offers). Be able to answer why you want this school for your child with reasons specific to your child and your situation.
  • Make sure you and your partner are on the same page.  If your spouse is gunning for a language immersion and you’re prioritizing on a strong math program, it won’t bode well for you if the interviewer senses you two aren’t aligned.

Child Visits

The visits tend to be group observations with some possible one-on-one with your child.  For the most part all the applicants visit at the same time.  Here are some tips to prep your child for the child visit:

  • Don't oversell the school to your kid or lay on the pressure by giving too much direction. 
  • Set up the visit as a more casual, playdate type of situation (not foregoing good manners, of course).
  • If your child is shy, that’s okay.  But if by chance you know someone else who is applying and will be at the visit, set up a playdate ahead of time so your child has a familiar face to buddy up with at the door. 
  • If your child has attachment issues, consider practicing for a similar duration of separation in the weeks leading up to the visit.  Even offer an incentive for an easy release at the door. 
  • Afterwards, ask your child what s/he thinks of the school, but make it clear that you don’t know if that’s where s/he’ll be going next year.
If you’ve decided to apply to private schools, the amount of free time you have might determine how many of these applications you’ll pursue.  So budget your time and try to be clear-minded and not too tired when writing the application answers.  Get your spouse on board – at minimum to read and spell check so that s/he knows the content of the application.  Any prep work you do in advance will pay off with a less stressful process and allow you to present yourself in a more winning manner.

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