The Private School Application. It provides basic information, but more importantly it gives the admissions committee a snapshot of your child. The application is your chance to introduce your child and your family to the school you’re considering. It’s your opportunity to communicate your child’s unique qualities in a clear and concise manner.
So, as you settle in this holiday season and start on your child’s private school applications, here are some things to consider that will help the process go more smoothly. Before you put pen to paper, take a minute to think about your child. How would you describe her? What are her strengths? Weaknesses? What are some phrases that sum up her essence? Now look at the school’s mission statement (be sure to do this for each school). How does the description of your child fit with the aims of the school?
Armed with this guidepost, it’s time to get to the nitty gritty – how to make your child’s application stand out from the rest and make a favorable impression on the admissions committee. Here’s what I recommend to make that happen:
Whenever possible, use specific examples.
Your goal is to describe your child’s values and interests. It’s easy to write “my daughter Mary is bright and loves to read,” but giving the admissions committee a detailed example helps to convey the subtle nuances of her personality. “Mary started reading Nancy Drew books in kindergarten and continues to look forward to our Saturday trips to the library, where she can fill her bag with books for the week” expresses the description above and adds so much more. This type of example provides rich details that set your daughter apart from the other applicants and makes her stand out or “come alive” to the admissions committee.
Tailor your application to the school you are applying to.
Hopefully you and your child have visited the school and are familiar with its offerings. The ability to enumerate ways in which your child will thrive from the school’s features demonstrates a serious level of interest on your part and won’t go unnoticed by the admissions committee. Taking our example a bit further, a comment like; “I had to almost pull Mary away from your library so we could stay with our tour group, especially when she learned the library has Kindles the students can check out” shows that your family is invested in making sure Mary attends a school that fits with her interests and abilities. If you can give an example of how your child might make a contribution to the school, that’s even better. For example, “Mary is so fond of the library that last year she arranged to shelve books once a week after school.”
Present your child’s best self, but paint an accurate and realistic picture.
Admissions directors are looking for all types of personalities to fill a class. If your child is shy and cautious, rather than bold and extroverted, don’t assume she will be overlooked come decision time. Be honest about your child’s style. Members of the admissions committee will see your child when she interviews or tests at the school. You don’t want to describe your child one way and have the committee observe your child completely opposite.
Completing private school applications is a lengthy process. However, you have the opportunity to give your child an ‘edge’ if you spend some time reflecting on her and the schools you’re interested in. Be thoughtful, and it hopefully will pay off with an acceptance.
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