As educational consultants the past few years, helping students gain acceptances has proved to be more challenging. With the flux of people relocating to Fairfield and Westchester counties, and with more people wanting a different education for their children, day and boarding schools have become more competitive. We also witnessed how students’ growth was hampered in one way or another over the past few years. As a result, parents were more determined than ever to find a school that could bring out the most in their child, but seemed less certain what that really could look like for their children or how to go about the process of finding a school.
How does our process work? We always start with an introductory conversation to get to know a family and see if we are a good fit for one another. We learn about the child’s interests, their past educational experiences, and what academic needs we all conclude would benefit the child moving forward. Additionally, we review what activities or extracurriculars the student has participated in, and we try to determine whether or not there may be some interests that have been untapped. Then we share how the school placement process works and answer questions so parents have a clear understanding of how we can potentially work together. Our goal is to gain a good sense of our families and ascertain how successful we believe we can bring them along to gain acceptances at schools of choice.
Next Steps? We create a school list and discuss with the family why we chose certain schools. Then we develop a plan of action which includes guidance with what to consider writing in their application, coaching students with interview prep, and regular strategy meetings throughout the process. What has been different than years past is the amount of time we spend with our students helping them understand themselves more, and what they could gain from an independent day or boarding school. For many of them, their involvement in extracurriculars, community service was hampered by the pandemic. So, many students are unsure what they like or what they want to do.
How Do we Work with schools? Having been admissions counselors we share with the schools how their school culture and their program could be a good match for our student. And we solicit feedback to see if they interpret the family’s application similarly and whether they have a good chance of gaining an accept at their school. Before these conversations take place, we spend time with families to help them understand how admissions committees work and how important it is to have strong transcripts, letters of recommendations, written applications, and interviews. Every part of the application needs to be connected and convey a joint message. We hope this message is repeated back to us when we engage with admissions counselors at the schools where our student applied.
Can we influence admissions decisions? Many schools welcome our conversations, and while we believe this is helpful for all parties, we know schools will ultimately make the decision. There are always elements of the process none of us can control. Schools have certain needs, and they often have circumstances that play a role in who gets accepted. We try to help students and parents understand this and why applying to a variety of schools is often necessary. Considering a range of schools can also provide families the opportunity to see how a student can be successful in not just one school but in other schools as well. In the end, we give schools a little more insight into a family and try to leave a positive lasting impression of the student.
Do we work with families until decisions are made? Yes, and often well beyond. Small businesses are word-of-mouth ones, so giving a little extra time to a family over the subsequent years has proven to pay off. This bodes well when students need to look beyond high school and apply to colleges or universities. We feel grateful when inquiries come in as referrals from past families we served.