Buy The Book! Beyond The Brochure: An Insider’s Guide To Private Elementary Schools In Los Angeles

BTB Cover Third Edition

Get your copy of  Beyond The Brochure: An Insider’s Guide To Private Elementary Schools In Los Angeles (September, 2017).  You can buy the book on Amazon! The book has been featured in The Daily Beast, The Hollywood Reporter, Town and Country, Los Angeles Magazine and on KPCC 89.3, The BBC and numerous other publications.

What you won’t find anyplace else:

  • Getting through the L.A. admissions process, from start to finish
  • Real sample written applications from successful applicant families
  • Real sample letters of recommendations from successful applicant families
  • How to write a “family message” that highlights your family’s unique qualities
  • Understanding how private school tuition and non-tuition expenses are calculated and why this matters
  • The subjective and objective factors involved in private school admissions
  • Applying to Pasadena area schools
  • And much more!

Every year around this time, we’re thrilled to welcome new readers to our blog. And, of course, some of you stick around even after applying to schools. We’ve truly appreciated your support since 2010, when we first started Beyond The Brochure. We receive your emails and we understand exactly what it’s like to navigate the competitive L.A. private school admissions process. We answer as many questions as possible on our Facebook Page and by email. Your support, encouragement and feedback means the world to us.

All our best, Anne and Christina Simon (csimon2007 at gmail dot com)

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What You Can (and can’t!) Control During The Admissions Process by Sanjay Nambiar

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We’re thrilled to welcome guest contributor Sanjay Nambiar of Nambiar Advising back to Beyond The Brochure with a piece about making sure you don’t overlook the things that you can control during the admissions process. Often, it’s the details that make a difference! –Christina

Applying to Private School in L.A. is About Control

We understand on a very intimate level the stress involved in applying to private schools in Los Angeles. The process can be maddening, and sometimes parents can feel that the future hopes of the family (fairly or unfairly) lie in the balance.

But, there are perspectives to help you manage the craziness and maintain sanity.

One factor we focus on with our clients is control– i.e., what you can’t and can control during the application process. Understanding the nuances here can help reduce stress significantly. Because ultimately, once we realize some things are simply beyond our ability to impact them, it’s easier to let the pressure around them go. We then can focus our energy on the things that indeed are within our purview.

What You Cannot Control:

School-specific needs for that particular year

It’s random, and perhaps unfair, but some years are just more difficult than other years. Admissions officers must balance a myriad of factors when putting together an incoming class. With that, many factors can impact the applicant pool. These include:

  • Legacy families
  • Faculty applicants
  • Siblings
  • Boy/girl ratios

With such factors, not getting in often has nothing to do with the student or parents. Rather, it can be a matter of limited space and unfavorable timing. Sometimes, knowing these truths can put a rejection into a more understandable, and less personal, context.

Recommendations

A teacher or administrator recommendation is the product of several months, and sometimes years, of history with your child and family. At that point, there’s not much parents can do to influence what is written. The recommenders typically are pros and have written numerous recommendations over the years. We have to trust that they’ll put forth the best representation possible, while remaining truthful. We can’t control this part of the process.

Transcripts

Similar to recommendations, transcripts are a result of your child’s history. If there is a blip in a specific course or year, we can’t do much about this historical outcome. If there is a significant anomaly in a grade for a specific reason, however, that often can be addressed in the application essays.

What You Can Control: 

Interviews

Finally, something under your control! Interviews are the most important in-person aspect of the application. This is your chance to connect, shine, and learn more about the school (for both students and parents). Exercise control here by preparing prior to the interview. Read your application again to remember specific anecdotes. Review the school’s website and talk about specific programs and classes. Research extracurricular opportunities. Also, mock interviews, sample questions, and a few practice sessions can help your child (and you) become more confident and polished.

School visits

Every time you visit a school, from interviews to open houses to tours, you have an opportunity to learn more about the community. These visits also let admissions officers and administrators learn more about you. Always be polite and courteous to everyone. We’ve heard many horror stories where parents or kids were rude to administrative or custodial staff, and as a result were not admitted.

Essays

This is perhaps the element which you can control the most. Take your time with the essays – start early and revise often (and always bear in mind the stated word/character count on the application). Read them out loud to catch typos. Send them to one or two trusted friends for feedback. You are in charge of how you describe your child and family, so it’s worth the effort to make it as strong as possible.

ISEE exams

This topic is controversial for many reasons. While many educators are not in favor of tutors or prep courses, there’s also an argument to how preparation can make a student more confident and relaxed. Whether you use a tutor or take practice exams on your own, studying for this standardized test can help not only improve scores, but also alleviate stress. Try to present a calm attitude – remind your child that the test is not a reflection of who they are or their potential. Also, remember that you can sign up to take the exam twice, just in case.

Submitting the application early

This is easy and under your control: submit your application as early as possible. Submitting early has multiple benefits: the season is new and admissions officers are fresher as they review the application; once you submit you can focus on regular life; students can focus on normal school and not application materials; and you eliminate the inherent stress of procrastination.

Keep It in Perspective

Yes, applying to private schools in Los Angeles is about crafting a strong narrative and doing everything you can to help admissions officers make a favorable decision. But, it is also about managing stress and not letting the details drive you and your child crazy. This is an opportunity to be authentic to your family as well as the admissions officers. And perhaps most importantly, the process is about finding the right match for your child, because happy kids are more likely to be successful kids!

As you understand what you can’tcontrol, you can more easily devote your energy and focus to the application elements you indeed cancontrol. Ultimately, that can help you keep your sanity as you go through the application process.

 

Priya and Sanjay Nambiar run Nambiar Advising, a consulting practice that shepherds families through the private school admissions process, from helping clients find the best-fit schools for children to application support, essay editing, interview preparation, and more. Priya has spent more than 20 years in education and was the Associate Director of Admissions at the Brentwood School in Los Angeles. She earned a B.A. in Education from Brown University and an M.Ed. from Harvard University. Sanjay is an entrepreneur and professional writer who has written several award-winning children’s books. He earned a B.A. in Economics and Neurobiology from U.C. Berkeley and an M.B.A. from UCLA. To learn more, please visit www.nambiaradvising.com.

 

Follow Beyond The Brochure on Facebook for the latest Los Angeles private school news and events! You can get a copy of Beyond The Brochure: An Insider’s Guide To Private Elementary Schools In Los Angeles on Amazon.

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    Hi Friends, I'm so happy to welcome Sanjay Nambiar back to the blog! His advice is always excellent and it's based on firsthand experience. Along with his wife, Priya, Sanjay runs Nambiar Advising and they are parents at PS1 Pluralistic School in Santa Monica. --Christina    Why Didn’t Someone Tell Me I Wasn’t Supposed to Do That?! Applying…
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      I'm excited to welcome Priya Nambiar of Nambiar Advising to the blog today! I asked her a few questions about private school admissions and she shared her answers below. Thank you, Priya!--Christina How does your 8 years of experience as a former Associate Director of Admissions for Middle and Upper Schools at Brentwood and your…
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      Dear Readers: I'm so excited to publish this excellent piece by Sanjay Nambiar. Along with his wife, Priya, Sanjay runs Nambiar Advising and they are parents at PS1 Pluralistic School in Santa Monica. The decision to apply to K-12, K-8 or K-6 can be confusing and a lot of parents end up applying to more than…
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    Here's a list of excellent resources to help you with your kid's admissions process:   Test Preparation (in alphabetical order) Academic Achievers: KinderPrep, ISEE, SAT, ACT and academic tutors Compass Education Group: ISEE, HSPT, SAT, ACT and academic tutors Hayutin & Associates: ISEE, SAT, ACT, academic tutoring, educational therapy and independent study Kinder Ready &…
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Spotlight on Emily Ingistov: Westchester Lutheran’s New Head of School

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We’re super-excited to feature a Q&A with Emily Ingistov, the new head of Westchester Lutheran School! Westchester Lutheran School is a private Christian school serving Preschool-8thGrade located in Westchester, CA.  Emily has been a familiar face at the school for years and now she’s earned the top job. Congratulations, Emily! –Christina

Question: After receiving your teaching credential and a Master’s of Arts in elementary education from Loyola Marymount University in 2003, you started teaching at Westchester Lutheran School (WLS). Most recently you taught math for grades 6-8. You also hold an administrative credential and a Master’s of Science. What are some of your most important short and long-term goals now that you’re the head of school?

Answer: My short-term goals include implementing a resource program this school year for gifted-students and students with special learning needs, beautifying our campus with improvements to the playground and yard play space, and developing a campus-wide STEM program.  My long-term goal for WLS is to welcome more families to our wonderful school, support ongoing continuing education and professional development for teachers, increase school-wide communication, and continue efforts to integrate technology into the classroom and into the hands of our students.

Westchester1

Question: How would you describe the educational philosophy of WLS? At WLS, our motto is Believing and Achieving. We have been educating students since 1950.

Answer: At WLS, we make it our mission and goal to educate the whole child so that each child is provided opportunities and experiences to discover and develop their unique gifts and talents in a Christian, nurturing and caring atmosphere.  We aim for high academic success and achievement through our standards-based, differentiated instruction.  We want our students to graduate WLS knowing they have the confidence, knowledge, and skills necessary for succeeding in the world.

Question: What do you think are some of the most innovative trends happening in education right now? Are there any you’d like to incorporate into the curriculum at WLS?

Answer: One innovative trend I am seeing in the field of education is the emphasis of a STEM program so that students are leaders of the world in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.  At WLS, we are going to expand and enhance our STEM program and Portals to Science. This is where students will build and learn through hands-on activities about energy and environmental conservation by installing solar panels, creating a battery from a potato, installing rain collection barrels, composting bins, solar ovens, and developing a school-wide recycling program.  In addition to this, we will have a STEM quad for our 6th-8thgrade students where Math, Science, and Technology curriculum will be integrated to promote student learning. The  integration of technology of across the curriculum is another important educational trend we embrace.

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Question: What are qualities you look for in applicant students? What about the parents?

Answer: We are looking for students who are eager to learn, understand new concepts, and grow in a caring, Christian environment where all members are valued and respected for unique differences, weaknesses and strengths. At WLS, we take pride in our strong tradition of academic excellence.  We seek students who are eager to be challenged and engaged in their learning experience.  We welcome parents who understand and value the notion that it takes a village to raise a child and want to be contributing members of our school community through the many volunteer activities we offer. We see parents as partners in educating our students.

Question: Do families need to belong to the Westchester Lutheran Church to enroll at the school?

Answer: We welcome and value ALL students of diverse ethnic backgrounds and faiths at Westchester Lutheran School. One does not have to be a member of the church to attend our school or be of the Lutheran faith.

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Question: Over ninety percent of the school’s eighth graders are accepted by their first choice private high school. Can you talk about how you help prepare kids to apply to private high schools? What are some of the private high schools your students attend?

Answer: Over ninety percent of our students not only are accepted into the high school of their choice, but many of them also receive advanced placement at entrance, including honors programs, and receive academic scholarships for their excellence and achievement. Our students typically attend the following schools after graduation: Loyola H.S., Marymount H.S., St. Monica’s Catholic H.S., Notre Dame Academy, Notre Dame H.S., Pacifica Christian H.S., St. John Bosco, Bishop Montgomery, Harvard Westlake, Windward, and Vista Mar. Our students are highly prepared for the rigors of high school.  Students are taught time management through balancing rigorous academics, various athletics, and extra-curricular activities.  We provide leadership opportunities, including student clubs such as Math Mentor Club, Girl Up, and Student Government. Students take Spanish in elementary and middle school years at WLS which often places students in advanced placement in high school. Many students place into Honors Geometry, Honors English, and Honors Biology as Freshmen in high school and are very successful in these courses.  We are proud of our students and all that they have accomplished while at WLS. They continue to amaze us and make us proud with their continued accomplishments in high school and many prestigious universities.   At WLS, we provide students with the foundation and skills needed to achieve their professional aspirations and goals. Believing and Achieving!

A native of Sacramento, Emily Ingistov arrived in Los Angeles in 1997 after graduating from Saint Francis High School to pursue a degree in Political Science from Loyola Marymount University.  It was during this time at LMU, that Mrs. Ingistov discovered her professional calling to become a teacher while completing a work-study program at Cowan Avenue School as a Site Coordinator in the government-funded program America Reads. Mrs. Ingistov graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelors of Arts degree in Political Science in 2001. Upon graduation, she entered and completed a teaching credential and Masters of Arts in Elementary Education graduate program at LMU while simultaneously teaching 1st and 3rd grade at Visitation School in Westchester. She was inducted into Kappa Delta Pi, an international honor society in education. In 2003, Mrs. Ingistov joined Westchester Lutheran School to teach 5th grade.  During this time, she found a love for teaching math and became the math teacher for grades 6-8 in 2009.  Mrs. Ingistov obtained a grant to complete a graduate program to earn her Administrative Credential and Masters of Science in School Administration from National University in 2009.  She was inducted into Pi Lambda Theta, an international honor society in education.  Mrs. Ingistov is committed to social justice and academic excellence. She is ready to effect change at a higher level as the new Head of School at Westchester Lutheran School which proudly serves preschool-8th grade students of all religious and ethnic backgrounds.

For more information, visit Westchester Lutheran School.

For all the latest Los Angeles private school news and events, follow Beyond The Brochure on Facebook or Twitter!

 

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Chasing Summer!

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A recent family trip to beautiful Vancouver

 Hi Everyone!

Hope your summer is off to a wonderful start!

I’m excited it’s finally starting to feel like summer around here. My kids have been out of school for a few weeks and the fast pace of the school year is behind us.

One of my favorite photos
Getting her driver’s license 2017

My daughter, Ryann, is a rising senior at Viewpoint and my son, Dylan, is a rising freshman there. Fortunately, Ryann’s *all important* junior year is behind her and went it very well. It was an incredibly busy year, but she put in the effort and it paid off. She’ll be attending the summer program of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University to get ready to become editor in chief of Viewpoint’s school newspaper.

My son, Dylan, is spending the summer playing hoops on Viewpoint’s basketball team.

Here’s a nice Tweet from the school’s head coach, J.J. Prince.

JJ Prince

8th grade graduation
8th grade graduation 2018

I’ve been taking an online creative nonfiction writing class while my job as a senior editor for nonfiction at Angels Flight Literary West has slowed down for the summer. I’m also doing some freelance writing and editing.

Of course, I’ll continue to edit this blog. I’m excited to have introduced some excellent contributors who bring valuable experience in their various areas of expertise. I’m always on the lookout for parents at private schools who are interested in writing for Beyond The Brochure. I strongly believe it’s important to have a variety of voices to inform your private school admissions process.

And, we can’t talk about summer without talking about books! I just finished two fantastic books which I highly recommend.

Bad Blood

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup is the true story of Elizabeth Holmes, the Stanford dropout and founder of Theranos, the startup company she claimed would revolutionize the blood testing industry. In just a decade, it grew to a value of $9 billion, making her a very young billionaire. She was recently indicted for fraud and faces 20 years in prison. How did she con so many high-powered and sophisticated investors and board members? The answer is complicated and the story is captivating.

You Think It

You Think It, I’ll Say It: Stories by Curtis Sittenfeld is a book of fictional short stories filled with dark secrets, wit and chilling characters who seem ordinary at first glance. As each story unfolds and characters reveals their innermost thoughts, we realize they are ordinary only on the outside.

 

Nars

In my earbuds: Forever 35, a very fun podcast about beauty products by two Sephora-obsessed friends who aren’t experts but who just like serums. Writers Kate Spencer and Doree Sharfir talk about light topics like the best dupe for a pricey moisturizer and hard stuff like Doree’s struggle with IVF. Each episode features an interview with a wide range of interesting people including beauty experts, writers and actresses. Guests reveal their own self-care practices and discuss what’s in their makeup bag. Mini-episodes answer listener questions. Because the two hosts live in Los Angeles and we’re the land of extravagant self-care trends, there’s nothing too outrageous for them to tackle.

 

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Beyond The Brochure: An Insider’s Guide To Private Elementary Schools in Los Angeles. Get a jumpstart on the admissions process by picking up a copy of our book!

Happy Summer! Christina

Keep up with Los Angeles private school events and news. Follow Beyond The Brochure on Facebook!

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