Admission directors and those who manage school enrollment love to hear visiting families express an immediate feeling of belonging.
Often our families say, “When we walked onto campus and met the students and faculty, we knew we had found a home.”
When we hear that, we know that the student we have admitted will thrive and the parents will be active members of the school community.
As parents, how do you arrive at that magical moment when a school feels like home? To start, we encourage families to reflect on the educational needs of their child, as well as the factors that are important to their family.
Each child, even those within the same family, will have distinct learning styles and interests. Parents should consider the type of environment or physical setting in which their child will learn the best, the kind of curriculum that will offer an optimum level of challenge, and the educational approach that will best engage the child. In addition, parents should identify any special interest that are particular strengths of a given school, like arts or sports, that their child might enjoy.
“Each child, even those within the same family, will have distinct learning styles and interests.” -Sarah Markhovsky
Parents should also determine the family values that they want to see reflected in an educational setting. Do you want a religious element to education? Are there specific values that you want to ensure that your child is exposed to at school? Location is another element to evaluate. Do you want a school that is close to your current home, or are you willing to relocate if you identify an amazing school that is a longer distance away?
A healthy understanding of how much your family is willing to spend on education will be another important part of your school search. In the Dallas area, many schools have robust financial aid programs, making them accessible to more families, but it may be helpful for your family to decide in advance how much you feel comfortable allocating to education.
Once families have a clear picture of what they would like in a school, visiting school websites and events like the Private School Preview on Sept. 8 will help them select a smaller number of schools for personal visits and deeper exploration.
Most schools hold events throughout the fall, giving families the opportunity to visit classrooms, hear from students, and meet with faculty and administrators. Applications are typically due during the winter, and admission decisions are released to families during the spring.
Selecting an independent school and moving through the application process takes time, but if the family has a complete understanding of what their child needs, then they are more likely to identify the schools and communities that will feel like home.
Sarah Markhovsky, the Greenhill School director of admission, serves as president of the Independent Schools Admission Association of Dallas.