Waiting for Admissions Letters and Getting In, Wait-listed, Rejected by Barbara Cameron

thorns and roses concept

 

 

Here’s another insightful, honest post from our friend Barbara Cameron. This time she writes about the thorny issue of waiting for admissions letters. Then, there’s the rose at the end of the journey…if things go well. We’re wishing all of you the very best of luck as you wait for letters and find out results!–Christina and Anne 

We wait for an online purchase to arrive. We wait in traffic. We wait for our Double Cappuccino extra froth at Starbucks (where I recently saw a woman flip out on the barista because she waited “three minutes and it was all wrong” when she received it). We wait for news from an oncologist about ourselves, or a loved one or a friend when all wrong takes on an entirely different meaning. We wait for our babies to be born.

And then, of course, we sometimes wait for acceptance letters from L.A. private schools to hear where our children will get their education. It is easy to say, “Keep it in perspective, it isn’t a life or death matter,” because it is not. However, seriously hard work, time and effort have gone into this process more times than not. Our children’s education matters a great deal. Expectations are high, and fear can creep in, so how do we handle it?

I had a friend who drove around her neighborhood trying to track down the mailman the day the letters were due to arrive, which some might judge extreme, but if you knew her, you would laugh. That is her. She laughs now. Getting a little crazy is okay if that’s what you do. The Los Angeles Times famously coined the term “Black Friday” to describe this day.

For each family dynamic, there is a valid answer to how do we wait for this news. My crazy, I tended to play the waiting down, quell the anxiety by telling myself whatever happens it happens the way it is meant to happen. Whatever works; it’s a trick of the mind. I created options so I could remain faithful to my mantra. Some families are clear about their few choices and bet on that. These days, parents frantically check their email or log onto sites which schools posts acceptances. Check your email’s junk mail folder too because I’ve heard that’s where some of these admissions emails end up.

I guess the one real thing to take away: in many ways, it is a crapshoot. It’s a roll of the dice no matter that you may have the odds in your favor. The best way to prepare yourself and your children, is to ready them to handle whatever happens, which means you as a parent must control it. Lead by example.

We waited before kindergarten, were accepted to The Willows, our first choice, wait-listed at PS1, got rejected from The Center for Early Education, and, well, case in point, I can’t even remember the rest now. Of course, I signed the contract for The Willows instantly. As for high school, we did as we were told because we needed financial aid; we threw our net wide. Seven schools, applications, interviews, tours! Seven letters to await. Crapshoot: one school we thought he had a good chance, a no-go. The school we thought was out of his league was a yes, and wait-listed at one he liked very much. Fairly last minute, my son did a shadow day at Arête and fell in love with it. They accepted him; two very different schools. I remember conversations with family and friends, what to do? On the last day to decide, driving to work, debating which would be best for him, after receiving generous financial aid from both, I just made a decision, knowing we can never, in the end, know the answer to that question. Arête, I still believe, was the best choice!

Maybe all of this means remembering that we are always in the process of waiting for something; waiting is hard. Traffic can make us late to an important meeting. If we crave and look forward to our morning caffeine, waiting for it might seem impossible if the line is long. Some news we think will change our lives, and some possibly will; some may not, although we feel (as the Cappuccino women felt) it will.

Maybe teach your kids, the degree of importance varies, but waiting is a part of life. It never stops. The outcome of hard work, whatever it may be, is a part of life. Whatever happens, we deal with it and move on. There is no other choice. How we handle what we receive after the wait is– and will– become a part of who we are.

Barbara Cameron is the 2012 winner of the American Literary Review nonfiction contest, judged by Alice Elliot Dark, and her winning essay, “Hawk Blood,” was published in the journal. It was republished in the Colorado Review as an editor’s pick. Her essay, “In Avalon, She Fell,” was a finalist in a 2017 literary contest, judged by Abigail Thomas. She has studied with Mary Gaitskill and with Tom Jenks, founder and co-editor of Narrative. Barbara is a graduate of Barnard College, a former restaurant server and now manager, a single mom by choice and a resident of Los Angeles. You can read Barbara’s most recent essay about Financial Aid on Beyond The Brochure and her creative nonfiction in Angels Flight Literary West.

Check out Beyond The Brochure’s previous posts about admissions letters, wait-lists and rejections and here on The Daily Truffle. 

Follow Beyond The Brochure on Facebook for all the latest news about L.A. private schools.

Good luck to everyone!

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You Are More Than A Wait-List Number by Sandy Eiges

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Sandy Eiges of L.A. School Scout and a friend of Beyond The Brochure, writes about the angst that comes with waiting for secondary school admissions letters. A lot of this advice is relevant for elementary school admissions too. And then, there’s the letters themselves. Read on…Good luck to everyone–Christina 

With many of you waiting to hear about high school acceptances on Friday, and boarding school acceptances on Saturday, anxiety is running high. And that’s just the parents!

Yes, many of you seem to have forgotten that the results coming out this weekend aren’t actually about you. Your children are the ones affected, and the focus really should be on them. There are several possible scenarios that come to mind:

Scenario #1: S/he got in everywhere! Congratulations, that’s a terrific result. So, are you going with the “name” school, or are you going with the school that’s really the perfect fit? Who makes this decision? This is the time for a great parenting moment. But hey, in this competitive climate, congratulations! Really terrific outcome. And really, really rare.

Scenario #2: S/he got in to one school, not your top choice – or his! This is still an occasion for celebration. The question is, are you going to wait for the school that waitlisted you, or are you going to love the school that loves you? Always a hard choice. Here it is worth remembering that there is an acceptance on the table. If you applied there, it must have been a school you were considering, right?

Scenario #3: S/he got in to a couple of schools, but not to the school she had her heart set on. Not even a waitlist there, just a flat-out no. Is there any hope that she could still get in there? No, and please don’t hold any hope out to your beleaguered child. Just because their best friend got in doesn’t mean it’s the right school for her. This is the time to realize that with two school acceptances, there’s a choice! That’s a time to celebrate – many scenarios do not include a choice at all. And by embracing reality, you are modeling the kind of decision-making that your child will be able to use when it’s time for them to apply to college.

Scenario #4: Your son did not get into his top choice school and was waitlisted at the other school. Wait – did you just say, “the other school?” You just let him apply to two schools? And he’s not what anyone would call an A student? You didn’t heed my advice to apply to at least FOUR schools? This is not an ideal situation. If your tendency is to get combative when it seems that no one appreciates your child, you have my sympathy. But railing at the world – in front of your child – is not a good parenting moment. And while you can wait to move up that waitlist, this might be the time to get proactive and see if he can still apply anywhere else.

Scenario #5: Your child did not get in anywhere. No yeses, no waitlists. Just plain no. This is the toughest scenario of all. What happened here? It seems like something went terribly wrong. Did you apply to schools that were realistic for your student? This might be the time to get real. Talk to their school and see if they can shed any light on the situation. As with scenario #4, this is not the time to yell and scream, this is the time to get out there and see what is possible and give your child the love they deserve. This is much harder on them than it is on you.

If you are not already one of my families, and you need to discuss your child’s high school acceptance outcome, I am offering one-time meetings next week. Please contact me at sandy@LAschoolscout.com.

L.A. School Scout is now scheduling consultations for school placement in 2019, be it preschool, Kindergarten or middle school, high school or even boarding school. For more information about our services please contact sandy@LAschoolscout.com.
Sandy Eiges
Sandy Eiges, M.S.W.
L.A. School Scout
877.877.6240
310.926.0050
sandy@LAschoolscout.com
www.laschoolscout.com 

 

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Elon Musk’s Ad Astra School featured on the BBC Mundo

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Hi Friends,

Here’s an article about Ad Astra School, founded by Elon Musk, on the BBC Mundo’s website. I was interviewed by Beatriz Diez, the reporter, and I’m quoted in her story. Beatriz also visited Ad Astra for a tour. The article is in Spanish but you can use Google Translate if you want to read it in English.–Christina

“Ad Astra, la hermética escuela que creó Elon Musk para darles una educación diferente a sus hijos.”

Click on BBC Mundo to read the article.

To translate it into English, use Chrome and go to “Google Translate” Type in the URL and it will translate it into English. Here’s the URL: http://www.bbc.com/mundo/noticias-42333988

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Financial Aid: My Story by Barbara Cameron

Wild flowers in meadow

We are excited to publish this piece by Barbara Cameron, who shares her honest thoughts and advice on what it’s like to apply for and pay tuition at L.A. private schools with the help of financial aid. –Christina

In the past, if asked about applying for financial aid, my advice was: be humble. I just looked up humility in the dictionary; its definition surprised me: lack of pride, meek, servility.

I will take servility. To be of service.

However, I will not take debase, demean, a low estimate of one’s importance from that definition. No. You have a right to ask; the school has the power and the right to grant aid or not, depending on their needs and wants. You don’t deserve it.

Always remember: It is a gift.

Be honest and be true. The true meaning, walk in with who you are, who your child is and a promise to honor yourself, your child and the school you say you want to become a part of. Why? The prestige? It should be far more than that. Find the school you can believe in and tell them why.

Remember, when applying you are not in the same position as someone paying full tuition. There is a specific amount of aid to distribute each year. These choices are being considered along with the factors involved in creating a new class each year. Also, I think it wise you never assume that because someone has plenty of money, dishing out that expensive tuition isn’t noteworthy. In most cases, they have worked long and hard to earn it; you just have different circumstances, but work hard, too.

However, you are as valuable. You can be as valuable. You and your family enrich the school, money or no money.

Exhausting and tedious, filling out all that aid information, yes, it is hard and should be. Also, there are reasons they ask if you own a boat or have inherited money. People who don’t need money will try to get money. Tell the truth and explain all your circumstances honestly. Age and earning power might play a role, even if there has been an inheritance. Details are important.

You are going to partner with this school in a financial bargain so always, always be honest. Your circumstances may change. Never assume you are not negotiating every year. However, never fear if your child isn’t perfect you will lose the money. My son was not easy, diagnosed early on with ADHD/Anxiety, and The Willows Community School, as well as our current school, Arête Preparatory Academy, supported, and continue to support us above and beyond. Did every teacher, every parent? No. Just because this is a private school does not mean you are in a magical land of understanding staff and parents abound. No. It’s a school full of humans complete with complicated issues encountered in all schools. You, too, are complex and could be someone else’s headache some days, some years.

However, did we receive support from teachers and other families? Yes! More than I could have hoped for.

Sacrifice. I sleep in the living room in a one bedroom apartment. I drove an eleven-year-old car and would have driven that Toyota Corolla into the ground had not someone hit is and totaled it. I put my son’s education above all. Yes, you must make sacrifices to ask for free money. You are not begging, but you are asking for less tuition. They will call it your financial award. I have always taken it in my heart as a gift, grateful as any human who receives. I work long, long hours and am not always able to volunteer. However, when I can, I do.

Grateful: indebted; obliged, obligated, in someone’s debt. Thankful.

Award: present to, bestow upon, decorate with.

You honor the school, they honor you. In the end, a wonderful partnership can be had.

A wealthy parent I knew at The Willows, although I did not know her well, offered early on to help out with childcare if I ever needed it. A few years later, knowing we were received aid (your choice but I never hid it and we were never treated any differently at The Willows or at Arête because of financial difference) approached me one day and said this to me. “You know, I admire you. I think it’s great you’re here. My sister and her husband don’t have much money, and I tell them so much is possible, but she says, ‘No, we’ll never get it.’ She doesn’t even try. I think you are an amazing mom for fighting to get Jack what you feel is best for him.”

And I felt proud; all the hard work, the filling out of paperwork, the worrying each year, would we would receive enough to stay, is worth everything if you end up where you want to be. If you cannot afford to do it with the award you receive, wherever you end up, the thing I always remembered throughout the years during this process, something my now best friend and former high school English teacher reminded me: “You are your child’s best and first teacher. He (she) will always bloom where planted because you are his mom.”

 

Barbara Cameron is the 2012 winner of the American Literary Review nonfiction contest, judged by Alice Elliot Dark, and her winning essay, “Hawk Blood,” was published in the journal. It was republished in the Colorado Review as an editor’s pick. Her essay, “In Avalon, She Fell,” was a finalist in a 2017 literary contest, judged by Abigail Thomas. She has studied with Mary Gaitskill and with Tom Jenks, founder and co-editor of Narrative. Barbara is a graduate of Barnard College, a former restaurant server and now manager, a single mom by choice and a resident of Los Angeles. You can read Barbara’s most recent essay in Angels Flight Literary West.

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Questions For An L.A. Private School Mom: Hollywood Schoolhouse and The Episcopal School of L.A.

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I’m always interested in what other moms have to say about their kid’s admission experience and what they think about L.A. private school culture. So, I asked my friend Lia Langworthy to answer a few questions. Lia’s, a former parent at Hollywood Schoolhouse–yes, the same school Prince Harry’s finance, Meghan Markle, attended back when it was called The Little Red Schoolhouse. Lia’s daughter is now at The Episcopal School of Los Angeles. I appreciated Lia’s straightforwardness with her answers to my questions and I think you will too. –Christina

Q: You worked with the Independent School Alliance, an organization that helps minority families apply to  L.A. private schools. What was the middle school application process like working with the Alliance? 

A: Working with the Independent School Alliance (Alliance) made the process of applying to multiple schools easy and streamlined. Step one — The Alliance meets with your child to learn what makes them tick, what they enjoy most about their current school and what they want in a middle school. Step two — they meet with the parents and together agree on a list of fitting schools for your child. Step three – parents give The Alliance a contribution (sliding scale) which covers the application fees and even the ISEE fee! My daughter applied to four schools via the Alliance (Oakwood, Wildwood, The Country School and Archer) but choose to attend Episcopal School Los Angeles (ESLA), a school we applied to outside of the Alliance.

Q: How many schools did she get into? 

A: Two out five.

Q: Did you make any mistakes other parents can avoid?   

A: My biggest mistake was not taking the process very seriously. I thought, “It’s frigin 7th grade. How hard can it be?” I was certain my daughter would have her choice of schools to attend. I had NO CLUE how difficult and competitive the process would be. I know several families whose kids didn’t get into any schools for 7th grade! Additionally, I wish I had attended more school events, not just open houses. Attending plays, concerts, book fairs and boutique sales is a great way to become more familiar with the culture of the school and for the school to become familiar with you and your family.

Q: Why did you choose a small, progressive middle school after being at Hollywood Schoolhouse

A: My daughter spent 1st grade through 4th grade at the public school 3rd Street Elementary, an academically demanding school. It taught her great study skills but after four years, I wanted a school that fostered and valued creative thinking and play as well as academics. Hollywood Schoolhouse was that school. My daughter flourished in the fun, loving, supportive learning environment that is HSH. The academics are solid but not as demanding as 3rd Street. For example, my daughter had 30 vocabulary words a week to learn at 3rd Street but 15 at HSH. The pace was slower as well. For middle school, my daughter wanted a school with a similar progressive vibe but with stronger academics. She fell in love with ESLA for many reasons. It’s a funky, quirky, small scrappy school with an innovative spirit. It was the only school that asked my daughter crazy question during her admissions interview – “If you had a fish and sling shot what would you do with them?” My daughter responded with a question, “Is the fish alive or dead?” ESLA obviously values your child’s creative thought process as much as their grades.

Q: Why are you applying out to a bigger more traditional high school? 

A: My daughter wants the typical high school experience she sees on TV — football, cheerleaders, band, the works. ESLA is a small school and has none of the above. She’s currently applying to Notre Dame and Campbell Hall for high school. I truly wish my daughter would stay at ESLA. There’s so much I love about the school. We’ll see what happens.

Q: What do you think are some of the attributes of a traditional school? A progressive school?

A. ESLA is a perfect mixture of the two; traditional on surface (the school is steeped in the Episcopalian tradition with chapel three times a week and requires students to wear uniforms) yet progressive in nearly every other way. As a new parent, I’ll never forget the school convocation (I had to look up the word because I had no clue what to expect.) When I saw church hymns and a biblical excerpt in the program I thought “Oh, no. What have I done?” Then the founder stood up and gave a sermon that gave me chills. She compared the summer of 2016 to the turmoil packed summer of 1968. She gave a history lesson, a moral lesson and an inspirational talk on how to be the change we want to see in the world. It was a lovely ceremony welcoming new kids into the community.

In my experience, here are some of the most significant differences between progressive and traditional schools:

  • A progressive school values student engagement and encourages discussions around politics, current events and social justice issues. Recently my daughter’s history class debated a case where a baker refused to bake a cake for a gay wedding. A traditional school might not tackle such a topic.
  • Most progressive schools value diversity. I wanted a supportive environment for my daughter to explore what it means to be a young black woman in today’s world.
  • Progressive schools solicit student’s feelings and encourage their input far more than traditional schools.
  • Traditional schools have strict rules that should not be challenged. At ESLA students are encouraged to start a petition if they want to implement a change at school. Recently a group of boys petitioned to start a boy’s volleyball team since ESLA only offered girls volleyball. Next year, ESLA will offer both.
  • Academically progressive schools switch things up. At ESLA middle school students read books I read in high school (Catcher in the Rye). Progressive schools constantly try new teaching modalities whereas traditional schools stick with tried and true traditional teaching methods, like frequent tests and lots of memorization with students competition against each other for grades.

Lia Langworthy is a graduate of UC Berkeley (BS) and UC Riverside (MFA). Primarily a TV writer (The Shield, Soul Food, Media) she also teaches at the UCLA’s Extension Writing Program. Lia is a single mother to a teenage daughter.  

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