It’s the busy season in the world of Dallas private school open houses. You can see from the schedule here that most schools offer one or more coffees, tours, previews, meetings, or visits. Even though it’s a time-consuming process, I think it’s an essential step when you’re considering a private school for your child. School visits like this are one of the best ways to observe the school in action. That said, I have some suggestions for how to prepare for your visit.
When you start thinking about private schools, it’s easy to get caught up in a name. You want the best for your child, so of course you want them to attend one of the most prestigious schools in town. Who wouldn’t want that for their child? The reality, though, is that there are not enough spots at the top Dallas private schools to accommodate everyone. And the prestigious school you have your heart set on may not be a good fit at all for your child.
I have some good news. I make school visits frequently throughout the year, and I’m consistently impressed with the quality of education Dallas private schools students are receiving. There are many, many smaller, less prestigious private schools in our area that will offer your child academic, athletic, and artistic opportunities beyond comparison. If you’re concerned about what types of colleges these students get into, you will be pleasantly surprised when you look at the list of acceptances. Not only do some students go to some of the top schools (think Harvard, Stanford, Vanderbilt, USC and more), but they also are awarded significant scholarships. So my best advice is to cast a wide net as you start your search and be sure to look at some of the lesser known schools for your child. Contact me if you need help making your initial list.
Prior to your visit, go to the school’s website and read through it. Think of it as your homework the night before you tour a school. Most schools have extensive sites that contain information about each grade level, including academics, fine arts, athletics, and other types of enrichment offerings. Many school sites have a curriculum guide and the student/parent handbook available as well. Try to read as much as you can, paying particular attention to the school’s mission statement. Jot down any questions you may have. Finally, on the drive to the school the next day, spend some time reflecting on the school…. and your child.
Thought your note-taking days were over… think again. Once you’ve made all of your visits you’ll want to review the school website, packet, and your notes. Take some paper and a pencil with you to the school and write down details that strike you. You may think you’ll remember the smallest things that set one school apart from another, but trust me, after a few visits the information all blurs together! Be sure to take notes as you tour the school. Additionally, I suggest spending a few minutes when you’re in your car getting ready to leave, writing down a synopsis of what you learned about the grade you’re interested in, your thoughts and feelings, and what stood out to you. This information will help you immensely as you start to narrow your choices.
Schools offer open houses through March or April. However, since applications are due anytime between November and January, I think right now is the best time to visit. Best of luck as you make your visits.
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