Smile: You’re Being Watched Every Step Of Admissions Process

Today, Porcha and I had lunch at with a mom who has read Beyond The Brochure and who went through the private elementary school process this year. Her child will attend Curtis School this fall. Our friend brought up a really good point: She felt that as she toured schools, participated in the parent interviews, accompanied her child to visiting/testing days and even at visited open houses, that she was “on stage” at every moment. She told us she knew that everything from the way she dressed, to the questions she asked and they way she and her husband acted were being noted.


She makes a really important point. Schools are looking for ways to weed out applications. There are too many kids applying for too few spots. Anything that a school sees you do or say that stands out in a negative way can be a red flag or even worse, a deal breaker.


For example, our friend mentioned a few things she observed during the process:


  • A family who sent their nanny with their child to visiting day. A red flag, if not a deal- breaker. The school will assume the parents are not involved and if accepted won’t attend school events or participate in the child’s education.
  • A mom who stated in front of the tour group that she’d heard “bad things” about the school.
  • Inappropriate/unprofessional outfits worn by parents
  • Parents who are rude to security guards, front desk personnel, teachers, tour guides and school administrators. This gets back quickly to admissions directors and can ruin a family’s chances of acceptance. Be kind to everyone at each school.
  • Repeatedly canceling appointments without an apology or a good reason.


These are all great observations and a reminder that whenever you’re dealing with schools during the application process, you should keep in mind that you’re being watched closely. This is really good advice from a mom who just went through the process! It’s easy to forget the basics during the stressful, rushed and sometimes overwhelming process. Be yourself! But don’t forget you’re not invisible (even if it feels like you are).


More Private Elementary School Admissions Humor…If You Don’t Laugh During The Process, You’ll Cry

Here are my favorite pretend “parents”, “Catherine and Kent” from in San Francisco on various private school topics.

Whoever writes these blog posts is hilarious, offensive and best of all, makes fun of the private elementary school admissions process by creating characters who are the quintessential sterotypes of private school families.

On Educational Consultants…

We used J.D. Worthington III. He is extremely well connected in the city and he golfs regularly with two of the headmasters at the “elites.” He is not listed anywhere. If you don’t know how to reach him, you have no business using him. Sorry if that sounds harsh, but that’s reality. Hope this helps.

Catherine and Kent

April 9, 2010 5:53 PM

On Getting Accepted To Private Elementary School...

We are so ecstatic that our Jeffrey went 4/6 in the privates. We can say we coached him well, but I suppose in the end good breeding helps. Mummy and poppy are so proud of Jeffrey!

We will choose one of the “elite 3” that admitted Jeffrey. We know some schools are fond of touting “diversity”, but this is often a code word for admitting less qualified students who lack the means to sustain their commitment to the school. We think Jeffrey’s elite choice has properly avoided making that claim.

Tonight we will fly to Apsen for a week to celebrate Jeffrey’s good fortune. We wish all the parents who belong in this harried process our best wishes for a suitable outcome. Being chosen for one of these elite schools is not easy and for some the realization that they do not make the cut will be difficult. We support many charities and feel good about what we do for the less fortunate.

Catherine and Kent

About how to afford private schools…

If you have to ask the question of how you should pay, you shouldn’t be going to private school. Two words: dividends and interest.

Catherine – Jeffrey’s mummy (Kent’s working late tonight)

On choosing a school…

People who need financial aid truly don’t belong at these schools. They tend to inculcate a lazy sensibility that seeps into the school culture. We received 4 spots and intend to clutch tightly onto each one until Thursday morning at which time we will inform the chosen AD that our Jeffrey will be joining their class. We hope that sensible people of means will fill the three slots that we relinquish. In the meantime we celebrate with gusto here in Aspen. We will drink Ricard (over ice) and gin martinis and enjoy duck liver pate. We will sooth our muscles in a sauna. See you in the fall.

Catherine and Kent

More about selecting a school…

Today we visited the Chesterfields, Kent’s dear friend from Phillips Exeter Academy. The Chesterfields have a vacation house down the road from ours in Aspen. Back home they live in an extremely large and gorgeous home in Sea Cliff with all of the loveliest amenities and a priceless view of the Pacific Ocean.

Well, the reason I mention them is that the Chesterfields face a delightful little predicament. Their daughter Claire Lilly went 2/2 in the privates, and I think you know which two I’m talking about. They are having an extraordinary time figuring out which one to choose. Today over many Ricards (with ice) and a gorgeous platter of shellfish we discussed this important decision with them. They know they they must decide and release at about 9:30am tomorrow. We hope that the sophisticated here who have partaken in the education at one or the other of these very prestigious academies can offer any insight they have that may aid the Chesterfields in deciding. Do understand that they value exclusivity, patrician values such as noblesse oblige and clean and well-maintained facilities as well as cultural similarities with faculties and fellow students, if you get my drift. Thanks on behalf of the Chesterfields for any help you may offer.

Catherine and Kent

Betsy Brown Braun, Educational Consultant and Parent Educator, Has A Must-Read New Book!






On Saturday afternoon, I attended a book signing for Betsy Brown Braun’s new book, You’re Not The Boss of Me: Brat-Proofing Your 4-12 Year Old Child, at my friend (and Willows School mom) Eve Newhart’s beautiful home. After signing books, Betsy was gracious enough to spend more than an hour answering our parenting questions.


I just finished reading Betsy’s new book. What a resource! The book offers parents practical advice and techniques to raise happy, confident, respectful and non-bratty children every step of the way. My kids are 6 and 9, so this book comes at exactly the right time for me. At the moment, I’m dealing with “mean girl” issues with my daughter and the constant changing of her friends.


I absolutely love Betsy’s practical, you-can-do-it approach. You will be able to read a section of the book, put it down and go apply her advice to whatever parenting challenging you’re having that day.


You’re Not The Boss Of Me includes chapters such as “I’m Bored” and “Is This The Only Present I Get? I especially love the list of 100 things you can say instead of the over-used phrase, “good job”.


Betsy writes with a magical blend of humor and authority. Reading the book, I felt as if I was getting parenting advice from a trusted friend who wasn’t afraid to be honest. This book will help guide me through the next few years and perhaps beyond. Both my kids have a strong perfectionist streak and the chapter, “Perfectionism” gives me insight into why they are like this (genes…my husband get the “credit” here) and “tips and scripts” to handle this characteristic.


In addition to being the mom of triplets (yes, that correct!), Betsy is also a renowned child development and behavior specialist, parent educator and preschool and elementary school educational consultant. She is the founder of Parenting Pathways, Inc.


To purchase a copy of You’re Not The Boss Of Me and to learn more about Betsy’s private consulting, parent seminars, blog and events, visit,


Ideas For Getting Acquainted With Your New School Over Summer

Now that you’ve selected the private elementary school for your child (or they selected you), you’re probably shifting into the “what’s next” mode. Summer is a great time to meet new families before school begins. Most private schools some offer some or all of the following events to help families get acquainted before school starts:


Host Family “meet and greet”. Many schools ask a current family to host a new family for a lunch or other get together. You may be invited to join your “host family” for an event. This family has been asked by the school to host several new families who have kids who will be in the same class and are most likely the same gender. Note: we’ve heard all kinds of “host family” stories. Most of the families are really nice and welcoming. Our host family at The Willows organized a brunch at her house with homemade cinnamon rolls. A few host families never even bother to call the new family. Sometimes, they will call, but are “too busy” to get together. Others can be arrogant and aloof and unwelcoming. If anything like this happens to you, let the school know. The reason this happens is because new parents are too intimidated to tell the school so it continues year after year.


Picnics. Many schools have summer picnics for the entire school, including new families.


Social events. You may be invited to a variety of social events to welcome you to the school. Parties and other events are the school’s way of welcoming it’s new families.


Visit the classroom. Your new school may invite you and your child to visit the classroom and meet the teachers before school starts.


Playdates. Schools will send out a roster before the start of school. It’s a great idea to have a few playdates with other families before school starts. It will help your child recognize a friendly face the first day of school and it’s nice for you to meet other parents, especially if you don’t already know any incoming families. However, don’t feel insulted if some parents don’t respond. They may be out of town or have older siblings already at the school so they may not feel like a playdate is needed for their child.


Host your own event. Sometimes new families will host a pool party or other event for incoming families. If you do this, just make sure to invite everyone in your child’s class!


Plan your own event. Schedule a moms only get together like a hike or a lunch date. Dads can do the same thing. Again, just remember to invite all the moms or dads in your child’s class! And don’t be upset if some of the parents don’t respond.


We discuss what to expect your during your child’s first year at private elementary school in Beyond The Brochure if you want to know more about this topic.