Expect The Unexpected. It Happened. Now What?

The worst happened. You went 0/x. “Declined Admission” or “Wait-Listed”. The words no parent wants to hear. We posted about this topic on 3/29/10, but here’s more on the topic since if you went 0/x you are probably thinking about reapplying for Fall 2011.


If you applied to private elementary schools with your fingers crossed, but received the news that your child wasn’t accepted to the schools where you applied, you may be wondering what to do next. We all know this is an uncertain process. Expect the unexpected is the rule, not the exception for most families who apply. So, if you’ve decided to reapply for Fall 2011, here are a few things to consider:


If you haven’t already done so, meet with your preschool director and ask her to call the schools where you applied, to help you understand why your child was declined admission or wait-listed.


Understand that the reasons why your child wasn’t accepted may be that your child was too young or not ready for kindergarten (in the school’s opinion) or some other reason that has NOTHING to do with your child or your family. Reapplying will mean these factors could work in your favor the second time. One of our readers was accepted this year (Fall 2010) for kindergarten to one of the most competitive schools after applying last year and being declined admission.


Perhaps as parents you weren’t forthcoming about behavioral or learning problems your child has struggled with in preschool or at his/her current school and if you reapply you need to be more open about these challenges. It is so important for you to be open with the schools.


Your child wasn’t prepared for “testing/visiting” day at the traditional schools. This is common, especially if your child attended a preschool where the reading, writing, etc, were not emphasized.


Something out of your control happened i.e. a scheduling mishap or a parent interview that went badly.


There were too many siblings that took priority for that year.


You only applied to two schools and need to expand your options with more schools.


You did everything right and things still didn’t go your way.


Think about working with an educational consultant who may be able to help you understand how you can improve your application process. We’ve posted several Question and Answer interviews with some of LA’s top consultants so you’re aware of all the resources available to you for your school search.


The important point to realize is that each application year is very different and your family’s persistence may pay off. By all means reapply to schools where you would like your child to attend. But also expand your options and apply to more schools, new schools you didn’t apply to last year. And, above all else, expect the unexpected the second time around too. Only this time maybe the unexpected will be the good news you’re hoping for!

See What These Moms Say About Our Book…

“The L.A. Private school application process is extremely intimidating and stressful. At every turn you will be greeted by panic, hysteria and misinformation…that is, until now! Read this book, follow their advice and you will increase your chances of acceptance exponentially. How do I know? It worked for us when we got into our first and only choice, in a year of record breaking applications.”

– Dayna Devon, former Co-Host, Extra

Curtis School, Developmental Kindergarten, Fall 2010

“Beyond The Brochure’s insider’s tips and suggestions gave me a calm confidence in navigating the private school waters. What can be a daunting and overwhelming process was made more manageable as it was outlined in a step-by-step manner and came with recommendations such as not becoming too fixed on a predetermined idea of what the “best” school is. Porcha, Anne and Christina’s research was right: there is an incredible array of wonderful private schools out there.And, with composed perseverance, you will end up with the right fit.”

– Julia Trainor

Oakwood School, Kindergarten, Fall 2010

“Beyond the Brochure: An Insider’s Guide To Private Elementary Schools In Los Angeles is fantastic! It helped us navigate the admissions process from beginning to end! I don’t know what we would have done without it. Every chapter was so informative that I can’t even begin to choose which chapter(s) were the most helpful. This book is an absolute must-have for anyone applying to private elementary schools!”

– Linda Suslow

Laurence School, Kindergarten, Fall 2010

Congratulations, Dayna, Julia and Linda!

Second Guessing Your Choice of Schools? Please Don’t

Now that you’ve had a few months to resume life as you knew it before LA private elementary school applications, a little nagging voice inside you may be whispering, “we made the wrong school choice”. After all the applications, interviews, nightmarish testing days? Yes! It’s possible to have doubts, second thoughts or worse, moments of total panic where you decide that it’s all wrong and your child really should be with her best friend at school x and why didn’t you, as her parent, make this decision that could impact her for life? You decide in a moment of complete delusion, to call the school on Monday and see if you can undo your admissions offer and get her into her best friends school even though you declined their offer. Then, you come to your senses and realize that’s a terrible idea.


You’ll keep hearing things that may make you pause and get that little voice inside you stirred up again…a friend whose daughter already has two best friends and school hasn’t started yet. Someone else you know who met a bunch of moms from the new school who invited her to Cabo for the week. And so on and on and on…That little voice only needs a tiny nudge to get its wheels spinning in your head, convincing you that you picked the WRONG SCHOOL. And school hasn’t even started yet. There are many years left for that voice to work its magic.


It’s totally normal to hope you’ve selected the right school for your child. And, once you start attending events–even before school starts–you may have more moments of panic. I did. What if another child is unfriendly to your child? That happened to me. A child at a welcome event scared the you-know-what out of my daughter and she screamed in terror. What if parents you meet from your new school have interests you don’t share? What if you host family isn’t a great “host”.


Any and all of this stuff can happen. Sometimes events are “parent- run” and the school has no knowledge about what is going on. Speaking from experience, it took me a long time to meet parents I really clicked with. My daughter had a rocky transition to kindergarten. It was really tempting to have thoughts of another school at those moments when things weren’t going so well. The first few months of school are not a great way to judge the school experience, either your child’s or you own. Give it more time. Lots more!


Q & A With Sandy Eiges, Educational Consultant: Experience and Results When You Need It Most!

1. Your company, LA School Scout, has a terrific reputation. Do you have an area of expertise that you specialize in?

Thanks so much! I think my reputation stems from the quality of what I offer my families, in terms of my in-depth knowledge of schools, preschool through 12th grade, public and private. I meet with the schools individually, I get to know them, I re-visit them over and over again, so that I can make a great match between schools and families.

And of course from the family’s perspective, my background in social work gives me an added advantage. I have the ability to elicit enough from a family interview, and the child observation or Kindergarten readiness assessment, to give me a real intuitive sense of what schools might work for a particular family – even if it’s not on their radar. So I suppose you can say that my real expertise is in being a very successful matchmaker!

2. The economy hasn’t recovered from the recession and this has impacted private elementary schools in various ways. What can parents who are applying for fall 2011 expect?

The economy hasn’t recovered from the recession, and yet people are still applying to private schools – this hasn’t changed, and this won’t change for fall 2011 applicants. While public schools, including charters and magnets, are accepting higher numbers of applicants and increasing their class size, private schools are still very committed to small class size.

What we are seeing, however, are more open spots in the higher grades, from 4th grade and up. I get quite a few families who are relocating to L.A., and I’ve got to say, I’ve had no problem placing those families in great schools this past year, even if they were mid-year placements. And some of these placements were tough! A third-grader with no previous formal schooling or English; a fourth-grader with a learning disability, an under-achieving 7th grader, 8th and 10th grade siblings requiring placement at the same school…the list goes on.

4. This is the “million dollar question”: why do you think so many wonderful families get rejected from LA private elementary schools?

If families are not getting into their school of choice – did they apply to the right school? Did they apply to more than one school? I encourage people to consider more than one or two options. Is there a match between what the school is looking for and your child? Is there a match between what you want – the kind of school that appeals to you – and what school would suit your child? These are not always one and the same.

If all of the answers are yes, then other factors might be at work. Some years there are too many applicants of one sex, and schools generally try to put together a gender-balanced classroom. Some years there are too many children born in the same month – schools try to have a range of ages within the same classroom.

Some years there are so many siblings that there just aren’t enough spaces for all of the qualified applicants. This is sad, but it happens.

5. In general, how are your fees structured?

I work with families in a variety of ways, based on their particular need and budget, whether it’s for a one-time phone consultation or throughout the process of applying to private schools. So, for example, I can offer a one-time consultation as a sounding board about current school problems, or to help a family develop a school list. I can also help the family manage the entire school application process, including Kindergarten readiness assessments, application review and interview preparation. A rush/relocation placement might include developing a list of after-school activities and summer camps, as well as placement of international students.

6. What are some of the private elementary schools your clients have attended?

My families have been accepted in schools all over the greater Los Angeles area:

Archer, Berkeley Hall, Brawerman, Brentwood, Buckley, Calvary Christian, Campbell Hall, Carlthorp, Chaminade, Children’s Community School, Claiborn, Crespi, Crossroads, Curtis, Delphi, Echo Horizon, Good Shepherd, Harvard-Westlake, High Point Academy, Hollywood School House, John Thomas Dye, Laurence, Le Lycee Francais de Los Angeles, Loyola, Marlborough, Mirman, New Roads, Oakwood, Pacific Hills, Park Century, Pasadena Waldorf, Pilgrim, PS#1, Seven Arrows, Sierra Canyon, Stephen S. Wise, St. James, St. Matthews, St. Timothy’s, Turning Point, UCLA Lab School, Viewpoint, Waverly, Wesley, Westland,Westmark, Westside Neighborhood School, Wildwood, Willows and Windward

7. Is it possible for a family to rehabilitate a parent interview or other part of the application process that they think has gone wrong?

That’s a difficult question. A parent interview gone wrong – that depends on what actually happened at the interview. For better or worse, there are plenty of applicants to choose from out there, and I would always recommend that parents put their best foot forward. Manners are always in order.

So if you felt so comfortable in the interview that you used inappropriate language, no, you are probably not going to be able to fix that. As to what else might have gone wrong, you would have no idea what that is. There are some great tips on how to manage the application process in Beyond the Brochure.

Should you need more direct help, though, and a partner in the process of finding the right school, contact Sandy at sandy@LAaschoolscout.com, or through her website at www.LAschoolscout.com.

To brag or not to brag?

One of my best friends is a very accomplished public relations executive, the former press secretary to a governor and the mom of two. She’s married and lives in Claremont, which has wonderful private elementary schools that are extremely competitive due to the colleges in the area and the children of faculty who attend these private elementary schools.

When she was applying to schools, she called me to discuss her application. I was surprised. There was something missing from her child’s written application! The application said nothing about her professional accomplishments, her volunteer work and her non-profit board service. Nor did she mention her husband and his family, who are prominent business and charitable leaders in Los Angeles. I asked her about this missing information. Being the gracious person she is, she said, “I don’t want to brag, so I’m not going to talk about any of that stuff.”


She was very concerned that she and her husband would come across as pompous and self-absorbed if she wrote about any of their professional or charitable work or mentioned it during the parent interviews. I was concerned that if they omitted it, they would be overlooked in the competitive application process.

We discussed the situation. Together, we developed her family’s key messages that focused on charitable giving, teaching her children the importance of giving back to their community, making education a priority for her family and community service.

My friend’s child was accepted at her top choice school. She’s now the head of the parent association at the school and her husband serves on the finance committee. What my friend considered bragging wasn’t really that at all. It was telling her family’s impressive story in a city filled with impressive stories. It was about marketing her family in a memorable way to admissions directors.

For most of us, it’s always uncomfortable to tout our own accomplishments. Private school applications and interviews are one place where it is recommended– and expected– that parents will do just that. You just need to find a way to do it in a low key, but memorable way.