Things You Can Do To Get Ready For Fall Admissions

 

Inside the multi-age K-1 classroom
Inside the multi-age K-1 classroom at Sequoyah School, Pasadena

Hi Friends!

Happy Summer! Hope you’re enjoying our hot summer here in L.A. We just returned from my son’s basketball tournament in Las Vegas where it hit 113 degrees. That’s just too hot! I posted the team’s photo on Beyond The Brochure’s Facebook page.

If you’re reading this post, you are probably anticipating the fall admissions season. Before then, there are a few important things you can do to get ready for the hectic time when you’re touring schools, writing applications, attending parent interviews and all the other activities that surround the admissions process.

1. Do The Drive. If you know a few schools where you plan to apply, drive to and from the school during morning drop off and afternoon pickup. Can you do this drive every day? Can your child be in the car comfortably for the duration of the drive? Could you find a carpool? Is the school near your work or your home? Is there a bus? If you will have two kids at different schools, how would the logistics of that work? What about before and/or after school sports or activities? The school’s distance from your home and/or office can be a huge factor when considering schools in Los Angeles, due to the enormous size of our city.

2. Make A List of Schools. If you aren’t familiar with the schools your child will be eligible to apply for, compile a list now. If you’re planning to apply for kindergarten, but you only know of two schools, find more options. There is a list of LA and Pasadena area schools in our book, Beyond The Brochure: An Insider’s Guide To Private Elementary Schools In Los Angeles. Also, CAIS has a list of all the independent schools in the Los Angeles area. You can also talk to friends, acquaintances, colleagues and anybody who might be familiar with school options. The more people you talk to, the more you learn. People tend to be very open to talking about schools here in L.A. Sort of like real-estate and home prices. It’s a constant topic of conversation. We’ve also profiled selected schools here.

3. Get organized. Grab a big 3-ring binder notebook from Target and create tab sections for each school. Then, for each school, create sections for every step of the process: tours (your notes from tours), parent interviews, etc. If you’re more comfortable with digital organization, find the best option i.e. Google documents, iPhone Notes, Evernote or whatever you like best. Another tip: create an email folder for school admissions and keep all correspondence from schools in that folder. The main thing here is to keep every piece of paper the school sends you, either a hard copy or a scan of it. The amount of paper and organization required for the admissions process can’t be underestimated. Calling the school because you’ve lost a document can–and should–be avoided.

4. Cost of Private School. Check out our post on L.A. private school tuition and the extra expenses that aren’t covered by tuition. This is an easy way to cross schools off the list if they don’t fit your family’s budget.

5. Extra Help. If you are considering hiring an educational consultant, here’s a list of experts to guide you through the process.

If you can tackle these manageable tasks, you’ll be ready to tour schools in September!

–Christina

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The BIG WEEK, The BIG DAY: L.A. Private School Admissions

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This is the BIG WEEK. Finally after months of waiting, schools will notify parents about elementary school admissions decisions on Friday, March 18. If you applied for secondary school, or if you applied to Pasadena schools, you most likely found out yesterday.  Friday is the BIG DAY for L.A., you been waiting for since you first started the admissions process in September. The Los Angeles Times called it “Black Friday” because it sets off so much panic among parents.

I’ve been there. I know what its like to open the schools’ emails or to log on to Ravenna. I’ve felt the exhilaration of the acceptance letters and the letdown and distress of a wait-list letter (in our case, it was an email that was most likely a polite “no”). I found out that doors shut, making room for other doors to open. I learned the harsh reality that people lie during this process. Friends don’t come through for you the way you’d hoped. School administrators think they can tell you where your kid should go to school, despite your objections.

After going through kindergarten admissions and middle school admissions processes, I’ve experienced some bumps and bruises along the way. With my two kids now at Viewpoint School and previously at The Willows School, I’ve lived the ups and downs of L.A. admissions. If you received the news you wanted, congratulations! If you don’t get the decisions you hoped for, you may need to pivot and quickly develop another plan to pursue. You’ll need to set aside your ego, your pride and maybe even a few friendships–I certainly did. Focus on your kid and what’s best for him or her. Contact the schools where your child was wait-listed to see if they might have a spot, making sure you tell them you’ll accept it if offered. If you got an acceptance from your second or third choice school, don’t let it slip away: put down the deposit, then see what happens with your first choice school if your kid was wait-listed there. I fully acknowledge all of this seems crazy-complicated. What I’ve learned, however, is that somehow it all works out. Everyone finds a school that works for their kid, even if it isn’t the one they expected. You’d be surprised how this happens every year. If you find yourself without a school, keep an open mind, expand your options if needed, reconsider schools you may have initially thought might not work, contact an educational consultant, look for “hidden gem” schools, forget about the “popular” schools because this isn’t a popularity contest, inquire about whether a school will accept a late application–some do.  There are options, you just have to find them.

Here’s a link to one of our most popular posts: Types of Admissions Decisions: Accepted, Wait-Listed or Shut-Out 

Good luck! Christina

 

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Who Gets In? Who Doesn’t? Some Observations About L.A. Private Schools…

 

Photo: Flickr by Giulio Molo
Photo: Flickr by Giulio Molo

If someone had asked me who gets into the most competitive L.A. private schools before I went through the admissions process, I would have probably said, “celebrities!” Now that I’ve been immersed in the private school world for the past 9 years as a mom and 5 years as a writer on the subject, I know that’s just part of the short answer–and really not the most important part. Celebrities, while highly coveted by some schools, are avoided by others, considered too high maintenance and disruptive to a school environment. And, there aren’t nearly enough celebrities to explain the cutthroat private school admissions process in L.A. So, what else is going on that causes some kids to get in everywhere and others to be declined admission? As my co-authors and I have said before, it’s about your family–your child and you. Especially when you’re applying for kindergarten.

Here are 3 categories to attempt to explain who gets in and who doesn’t. A family usually has one or more factors in a category working for/against their application:

 

  • Gets in everywhere 
    • Family has a prominent last name (Disney, Annenberg, Spielberg) and/or a large trust fund
    • Kid scores very well on kindergarten entrance tests
    • Family adds ethnic diversity without needing financial aid
    • Kid is extremely bright, articulate and the kind of kid who appeals to every admissions director (think of a mini Barack Obama)
    • Kid has a unique ability in music, art, math or some other area
    • Very high ISEE scores for middle and high school (8 and 9)

 

  • Gets into some, but not all schools (this is most families who apply)
    • Parents are well connected at one or two schools, but not all the schools where they apply
    • Follows the “rules” of the admissions process
    • Has a similar family profile to a lot of other families, making it more competitive for their kid
    • Kid attends a “feeder” preschool to a certain private elementary school
    • Kid has been tested as highly gifted
    • Extremely bright kid from disadvantaged background
    • Good ISEE scores for middle and high school (5 and 6)
    • Family is philosophically at odds with some of the schools where they apply
    • Admissions director has a strong preference for a certain type of family/kid

 

  • Does not get in anywhere
    • Family only applied to one very competitive school
    • Needs financial aid, but didn’t apply for it
    • Parents (or sometimes kid) seem very difficult and demanding
    • Kid has undisclosed behavior or other issues
    • Family is “outsider” applying only to “country club” schools
    • A negative recommendation from preschool director
    • Family appears to prefer public school
    • Family/kid does not have support of head of school for middle and high school admissions
    • Very low ISEE scores for middle or high school (scores of 1 and 2)
    • A contentious divorce or custody battle that isn’t adequately explained (or resolved)
    • Admissions director doesn’t think the kid will succeed at their school (academic or social reasons)

 

There’s nothing scientific about the categories above. These are simply my observations after 9 years of being a mom at two private schools and 5 years of writing about the topic and talking to tons of parents, admissions directors, heads of schools, educational consultants and preschool directors.

 

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