There is still time to do some last minute homework to apply to an independent school for the 2016-2017 school year in Charlotte.
Application deadlines are usually mid-January, so you are getting down to the wire. But it’s not too late, and hopefully you have been keeping up with the process through our series of articles on the topic:
Having been through it myself, I agree 100% with Barbara Bodycott, Associate Director of Admissions at Providence Day School, when she says that the admissions process is a two-way street. Just as it is important that a school understands that each child admitted is actually a family admitted, it is crucial for parents to select a school that matches their family vision and culture.
Now is your last chance to make appointments for individual meetings, for campus tours, and for you to visit school events like games, meets, exhibitions and theatre productions at the independent schools on your list. Yes, you are on deadline, but if time is an issue, Barbara suggests you and your husband split up and visit separately. You may even find it beneficial to compare and contrast your individual perspectives.
Now is also the time to check in with neighbors, co-workers and friends who have kids at the schools at the top of your list, and ask them…What’s working for you? What do you as parents love? What about your children? What would you change at your school?
What to look for?
Barbara tells us to look for the school whose core values line up most comfortably with your family’s. Your children can get a good education at many different schools; parents need to have that “feeling of fit” at the school their family will attend. In the Charlotte Independent School system, it comes down to less of one school being better than the others, and more of which school is the better fit for you and your family.
Barbara’s most important piece of advice in the process is for you to get on campus, to breathe the air, see the faces, listen in the halls. Chances are, the right school will reach out to you when you are present and able to sense the culture of the schools.
The scales of fit do tip from family to child as the age of the student increases. Your teen should have a larger voice in selection than your middle schooler, as his/her interests are more fine-tuned in academics, extra-curiculars, sports, clubs, social groups, etc. It’s critical for your high schooler to visit as often as needed to give them their own sense of fit.
What are the schools looking for?
Barbara explained that schools know who they are; most are mission driven, and are looking for families who fit their mission as a school. Yes, independent schools look for academic alignment, but they are also looking for well rounded students, for parental involvement and for relationships with families that will often last for well over a decade. Schools are looking for parents to partner with them, and they know that raising and educating a child takes a team effort.
Schools know from years of experience that they are accepting students who are individuals outside their test scores. All independent schools do testing and selective admissions, but they are all looking at more than the numbers. Schools are eager to have their students feel capable and empowered to do well, who will contribute to the overall culture and mission of their school.
In the early years, schools also know that testing young children can be challenging, and they will look beyond the numbers. Throughout the application process, there is input from several people to form a complete picture of your child – independent testing professionals, admissions staff, teachers and pre-school personnel. Barbara tries to be as open and transparent as possible with families about what PDS is looking for. If your child will be at a disadvantage academically or in early social development, you will be advised on why your student is not ready for acceptance. You will receive guidance on your next steps, as the school is looking for a favorable outcome for your child and your family.
The bottom line is that every school is as interested in enrolling successful students as the parents are in getting their children enrolled. Hopefully you and your family have made a list of the things that you are looking for in your school of choice, and you are now in the final stages of really getting to know the 2 or 3 schools to which you will apply this month. Commit to doing your last bit of research in these last 10 or so days! You will be glad you did when it’s March or April and time for your final decision.
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