Admissions Directors: The Keys To The Empire


A post yesterday on a parenting blog caught my eye. A mom on a well-known LA site wrote that she didn’t like the admissions process at a private elementary school in LA. She thought it was outdated and antiquated. The school in question is a fairly traditional school, so it’s possible that the admissions process is traditional too. It got me thinking: what if you are really turned off by the admissions process? Does that mean you should let your feelings about the admissions director or the school’s admissions process determine your feelings about the entire school?


Each school has a unique admissions process. Some are more rigorous than others. Certain schools give parents the feeling they are trying to weed out kids through the process. Other schools make the admissions testing or visiting day seem like it’s merely a formality, but certainly not something that could make or break your child’s chances for acceptance.

The main point to remember is that you just have to get through the admissions process and you won’t have to deal with the admissions director again once your child is at the school, unless, of course, you like him or her. I really like Kim Feldman, the admissions director at the Willows, and so I’m always happy to see her.

At one LA private elementary school, the admissions director is known for being eccentric and odd. She asks the kids to hop on one foot during admissions testing. This, for some parents, is a huge deal breaker. Would this be enough for you to drop out of the process at that school? I toured this school and for a number of reasons, including the weird arrogance of the admissions director, chose not to apply. But, I have friends who have kids at the same school who are very happy there.

When I think of words to describe some of the admissions directors I encountered, here’s what comes to mind: Professional, low-key, quirky, odd, old-fashioned, unpredictable and drunk with power.

Still, I didn’t let my feelings about most of the admissions directors deter me from completing the process at the schools where really I wanted my daughter to attend. I had some bad moments before it was all over ( a terrible parent interview, stomach pain, and other stresses we discuss in the book).

I’ve concluded that private elementary school admissions directors occupy a unique place in LA. They are the gatekeepers who hold the keys to the empire. If you want a spot in their empire, you must convince them to unlock the door for you!



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