07 Nov 5 Tips to Navigate the Admissions Process
By, Fiona Farrahi, Director of Admissions & Marketing
For many families, the admissions process is daunting. Every school is different and every admissions and enrollment director handles the process according to their specific learning community’s culture. To get ready, keep in mind our city has amazing schools to learn about and try to enjoy the process, and people, that make it possible! Enjoy these five useful take-aways for families entering the admissions process at any grade level.
1. Leverage the Expertise of Your Teacher
Teachers are by far the most underutilized asset in the school search process. They are able to observe students’ learning and processing styles in real-time, making them uniquely skilled at understanding what each child is already bringing to the learning experience and can best guide you on the types of programs your child may benefit from. If at all possible, try to set up a meeting with your child’s current teacher or head of school. Ask them where they see your child thriving, needing support, etc. Partnering with your child’s teacher or school director provides real insight into what matters most – how your young learner best thrives.
2. The Process and the School Are One
Never separate the process from the school. How your questions are answered, how much time you spend talking to administrators face-to-face, how and if you get to spend time in the classrooms – all of these are direct samples of the interaction you will have going forward. Not having questions answered or calls returned is a sure sign that what’s ahead won’t be any different. If you can’t seem to get a real feel for the school community through the admissions process, there’s potential that things may not change once you enroll. In some cases, you can ask to speak with current families to hear their perspective.
3. All Access
The most important decisions for your child’s academic and social development are in your hands. Every admissions process should afford you the opportunity to talk to teachers, current parents, students, alums, and administrators. At Seven Arrows, we host tours on school days so families can experience a day in the life of our learning community. We want parents to get an honest survey of the students and envision their little one sitting in those chairs or learning that instrument in music class. When we interview families, we always offer opportunities to see more of the school or meet with a division head. Any school, no matter how big, fast, and strong should be open to sharing any and everything with you, no matter how many times you ask.
4. Clear Understanding of the Program
Whether the process takes you to the admissions director, science teacher, division head or head of school, you should walk away with a sound understanding of the type of education your child will be receiving. What is the middle or high school record? Is there an emphasis on a certain type of learning (e.g., project-based, experiential, inquiry-based)? Most importantly, every person you connect with should be saying virtually the same things. The themes should match up, the culture should connect, and your perception and understanding should grow deeper with each encounter.
5. Put Your Child at the Center of the Process
It seems pretty obvious that your child’s interests, abilities, and strengths should be top of mind while you search, right? Well in some cases, the process is so overwhelming that many parents forget about this. This process is emotional, it’s long, and in some cases, it can resurrect the roses and thorns from your own elementary school experience. Be mindful not to make any decisions based upon your personal experience. Focus on the truth about how your child learns and the gifts that they have. Get feedback from your child’s teachers to build a solid profile of your young learner so that the emotional effects of your search don’t overshadow the individual needs and strengths that your child will bring to their next educational adventure!
Overall, the admissions process is an incredible opportunity for schools to get to know you and your child and for you to get to know the school. Try to enjoy this experience and bring a spirit of inquiry to each encounter with admission officers and school staff. The goal is to walk away with a clear picture of the schools available to you and match their program and community offerings to your child’s strengths. Keep this in mind and enjoy the process.