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).


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Christina Simon: Los Angeles, California, United States I'm the mom of two kids who attended The Willows School in Culver City and Viewpoint School in Calabasas. My daughter is a graduate of Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism ('23) and my son is a sophomore at UPenn/Wharton ('26). I live in Coldwater Canyon with my husband, Barry, and our dogs. Contact me at

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