Admissions Advice from the Expert
Junior Ivy League March 30, 2006
Walking up Park Avenue just before spring break, students of all ages, sizes bop on by, in blue jeans or bare legged, some carrying lacrosse sticks, cell phones or ipods along with their backbreaking backpacks. Parents trail a pace or two in front or behind, chatting as they go. JIL overheard snippets of the parent’s conversations, , “Do we have to pay full tuition,” asked one parent. “How much is that a month?” pondered her friend. Another pair of parents about a block north, discussed the student/teacher ratios. “What’s the class size?” asked one. “I think each class is different, but they graduate about 150 each year,” her friend replied.
So now, add sticker shock the price of New York City’s private schools, a new national high, about $30,000 a year to the already arduous admissions process of touring, testing, interviewing and essay writing, has parents talking, thinking and worrying about what they can do to maximize their options and have a voice in choosing their child’s school.
Roxana Reid, advisor to thousands, owner of Smart City Kids, an educational consulting firm, placed about 100 children this year. Reid’s also a parent of two private school children. She answers some pressing questions for parents seeking private schools.
Junior Ivy League: Is there any one or two things that families can do to create an optimum admissions situation?
Roxana Reid: “Parents should be organized. Starting this process early really allows you to manage the process smoothly as the actual admissions season nears. If you can begin in the spring, do so.”
JIL: How can parents manage their expectations?
RR: “Parents should have a realistic sense of who their child is and focus on having a balanced list of schools to apply to, including public school options. If you’re applying for kindergarten, I think it is very important to have a conversation with your nursery school director, and teachers, about what they believe are your child’s strengths and which learning environments are best suited for their learning style.
If ERB tests were taken in the spring, then you should have a realistic conversation with your nursery school director and the ERB report, it’s consistency with the school’s own impression of the student, and their thoughts on whether the school list accurately reflects what schools are focused on with respect to the ERB.”
JIL: Even with top ERB scores, can families expect to be accepted to more than one top school?
RR: “No. Although the ERB scores can be very important to some schools as a measure of where a peer group is, it is only one part of several components used to measure whether the school is a good fit for a child. The student interviews are very important, as is the school report and the schools’ sense of whether the family is a good fit.”
JIL: What can parents expect to hear from schools: More good news than bad, or, more bad than good?
RR: “Every year has been more competitive than the next. As more families decide to stay in the city, the number of spaces has become more limited. With more siblings, and in some instances legacies, occupying spaces there are fewer spaces left for others.”
JIL: What is the best case admissions scenario?
RR: “The best case admissions scenario is when the student has a fantastic interview. a strong ERB report that is consistent with the school’s report and understanding of the student, a strong parent interview and perhaps, when possible, a contact within the community of the school that is well thought of who is willing to say good things on behalf of the application. Although this is not necessary at many schools, it can be very helpful.”