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


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

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 Eiges
Sandy Eiges, M.S.W.
L.A. School Scout


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

Screen Shot 2018-02-15 at 5.27.57 PM

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:

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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.


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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Interview with Jonathan Cristall, founder, “What They Don’t Teach Teens”


I met Jonathan Cristall recently for coffee in Westwood. We were introduced through a mutual friend, Lisa, who is his neighbor and my tennis friend. I chatted with Jonathan about growing up in L.A., raising kids, his work as a City Attorney and why he started writing about What They Don’t Teach Teens. I find his work interesting and extremely relevant for those of us with middle and high school age kids. I think you will too. As the mom of an 8th and 11th grader, of course I’m panicked concerned about everything from vaping to revenge porn. It was reassuring to talk to Jonathan, a formerly troubled teen himself, who offers practical, insightful advice about these important issue. He speaks at schools and parent groups. His book, What They Don’t Teach Teens, will be released in late 2018 by Quill Driver Press. –Christina 

Q: You’re a husband, dad of three boys, and a busy prosecutor with the L.A. City Attorney’s Office. What inspired you to launch What They Don’t Teach Teensa program where you write and speak at public and private schools about how we can keep our kids safe by teaching them 21st century life safety skills to navigate our complicated world, “physically, digitally, emotionally and legally?”

A: My wife Lisa and I have three great sons, two of whom are teens, and we simply believe that for them and other teens and tweens, coming of age today is increasingly complicated. All of our young people need to learn how to avoid mistakes that can cause themselves, and at times others, a lifetime of negative consequences. There are key life skills including understanding sexual misconduct like harassment, digital safety, your rights with the police and several other topics I teach that kids need to get right because there aren’t “do-overs” anymore—which, as a once troubled teen, is what I relied on to get by

Q: The programs you’ve designed focus on providing information for teens and parents. Why?

A: Almost all parents recognize the importance of their sons and daughters learning the What They Don’t Teach Teens lessons, but most simply don’t know the information themselves or have an engaging way to teach their teens. So, that’s where I come in. I teach directly to teens on behalf of a parent (or school) so they don’t have to; to parents only so they can decide how to convey the information they learn to their child in a manner that resonates with their family values, or; to both parents and teens simultaneously so that the information can be learned together, thereby setting the stage for important parent/child discussions about the topic(s) when and how they see fit.

Q: Digital Safety: Help! Where do we even start?

A: That’s a great question. Quite simply, since there’s so much ground for us to cover as parents in this regard, the most important thing is to just start the discussion! Ultimately though, the starting point is going to vary because our kids are in different places depending on their age and digital interest/sophistication. Still, if I were going to choose a “one-size fits all” starting point, it’d be that teens understand that whatever they post on social media or share electronically via email, text or any digital format, has the potential to exist forever and to be shared amongst people they don’t know. Once they hit “send,” there’s no getting it back, ever! Once that general concept is understood, parents can start covering the many other digital topics our kids need to understand like cyberbullying, privacy, etc. depending on what they feel their child needs at any given time.

What They Don't Teach Teens


 Q: Your Table Talk Discussions sound like a great approach for talking to elementary and secondary school kids about the awful perils of cyberbullying. Can you give us a few tips to for talking to our kids about how to avoid being victims or unwitting perpetrators of cyberbullying?

A: Since most of our kids won’t directly cyberbully someone, it’s most effective for them to understand that a cyberbully has no power without followers and inactive bystanders. Their mere digital presence within the bullying can make the target feel like everyone has turned against them. And, from the bully’s perspective, it will be thought of as support for the abuse. So, at a minimum, our kids should not participate even passively in a cyberbullying situation and, if they feel safe doing so, they should try to meaningfully intervene. The intervention part is really important but beyond what we can cover here. I’ll just say that there are always ways for our kids to intervene in some way, even something as simple as telling a trusted adult about what’s happening—which can even be done anonymously.

Speaking of trusted adults, if our child is ever the victim of cyberbullying, it’s critically important that they don’t suffer in silence, but instead tell someone they trust—preferably an adult—about what’s happening to them. There are also numerous online resources where teens or parents can reach out anonymously for help. As much as we want our children to come to us as their parents, they may be reluctant to do so for fear of losing their digital access.

When trying to talk with my sons about cyberbullying or other important issues, I usually do it casually in a car ride, when we’re having dinner at a restaurant, or when I’m tucking them in at night. Using current news stories related to the topic is always a good way to begin a discussion too by saying something like “Did you hear about….” We also have a monthly family meeting in which everyone is given one to two minutes to talk about anything they want—including lodging complaints. My section is called “Daddy’s Safety Minute” and in that short period of time I always cover one of these types of topics.

Q: Helping kids say “no” to friends is so important yet so difficult for many kids to do. What advice would you give to parents? To kids? Can you give us an example?

A: Well, kids certainly aren’t the only ones who have a hard time saying “no.” Many adults wish they could say “no” to their boss, co-workers, a partner, and perhaps, even their kids! So, I think we have to understand and appreciate that learning to say “no” is a skill that will serve them well for their entire lives and which gets easier with practice. And, we can help them practice!

For kids who are confident and assertive, they can be taught how to say “no” without ever uttering that word. For example, if a friend wants them to do something that they know they don’t want to do, they could say something like “I don’t want to, but thanks”; “Thanks for thinking of me, but I don’t think so”; or “I can’t do that, but why don’t we do ___ instead?” Of course, these should be customized so that they feel authentic to the child. Then, the response can be memorized and repeated when and how they see fit for years to come!

For other kids, my favorite thing is to have them stall. Since the one thing we don’t want them to do is say “yes” to something that they don’t want to do or aren’t sure that they really want to do. Instead of saying “yes” or “no” (or it’s functional equivalent as mentioned above), kids can say other things that buy them time like “I’m not sure, I’ll think about it”; “I’ll let you know”; “I’m busy now, but I’ll get back to you about it.” Again, these should be customized so that they feel authentic to the child. Hopefully, this gives them a window of opportunity to reflect on how they really feel about what they’ve been asked to do and maybe even talk to a parent for some guidance in the interim.

Thank you, Jonathan! To contact Jonathan about speaking events or for more information, click on What They Don’t Teach Teens.

For all the news about L.A. private schools, follow Beyond The Brochure on Facebook!

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