The School Tour: "Do Your Homework in The New York Times"

Here’s a piece from  The New York Times, Oct. 31, 2011. The article offers some interesting information that is applicable to touring schools in L.A.

Last month, Holly Epstein Ojalvo began a series of posts about how to get the most out of a school tour, and what to focus on before, during and after a visit. Using insights from her own teaching career, and from experts, she hopes to help demystify the experience. Here are some tips for preparing for the tour. Join the conversation below in helping her address your issues and experiences in future posts.
Not too long ago, a discussion thread on the parent chat board Urban Baby started with a mother asking: “Do I need a designer handbag for tours and interviews? What kind should I get?” Other mothers were full of advice.
Though some rolled their eyes, none of the responders pointed out that tours are for parents to size up the school, not the other way around.
Whether you are interested in seeing the school your child will attend — if it is a zoned school, for instance, or your child has already been admitted; looking more broadly and want to weed out places for your child to apply to; or figuring out which school to make your first choice, taking a tour can be the most efficient way to find out whether a school is a good fit for your child and family.
But only if you are well prepared.
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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

2 thoughts to “The School Tour: "Do Your Homework in The New York Times"”

  1. I'm not so sure the tours are solely for parents to size up the schools. When I toured Carlthorp in Santa Monica (you can only tour by appointment and your tour IS your interview), I was taken aback by the Admissions woman who before beginning the interview, asked me to sit down and then looked from my diamond studs, to my handbag, to my diamond ring to my shoes (in that order) THEN went ahead with the interview.
    Ugh! It was such a turn-off (although if I'm being honest with myself, I was really happy I had worn my good jewelry)!
    It's definitely not a stretch to think that the schools are sizing you up and making assumptions about you based on your designer (or NOT!) handbags or anything else that might stand out to them.
    Needless to say we didn't apply there.

  2. Hi Anon, thanks for sharing your interview experience. I wore a nice top and jeans to my parent interviews because that's how I felt most comfortable. Ironically, I did carry a designer handbag. But, I don't recall any admissions directors looking at it:)

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