The Fall brings about cooler weather, change of leaves, and for many families, the opportunity to tour other schools for their children, either for their first experience or for the many who are thinking about changing schools. Here are some ways to make sure your family WILL NOT get into their coveted school!
Are you a dreaded "helicopter parent," one who hovers around the school, asking a million questions, staying close to the school director at all times, lacking basic people skills and unable to read simple body language and cues to "hover" somewhere else more appropriate, maybe at Starbucks? Yes, ask your questions. Yes, show enthusiasm and love for a school. But do not hover over a tour guide or Director of Admissions. Do not make a nuisance of yourself. There is a fine balance between showing genuine excitement and interest in a school and being irritating and annoying.
We will never forget one couple who "LOVVVVVEEED" a particular school. They wanted this school for their child "more than anything." What did this family do to ensure that they would NOT be accepted?
Mom interrupted the Director of Admissions during her talk with a group of parents to share a personal story. Then dad decided to dominate the Q&A with his sage comments and lengthy questions. The Director had to finally intervene by stating her desire to provide others an opportunity to ask questions. After the talk, this couple stayed in close proximity to the guide during the school tour, complimenting just about everything in such an over the top way that the guide felt they were not at all genuine. Admissions decisions take into account the entire family. Teachers rely on the admissions staff to accept great kids and down-to-earth parents with common sense who will be supportive, enthusiastic, and... who do not hover! Think of and visualize the following adjectives when interacting with the schools you are interested in: modest, polite, and genuine.
I'LL CALL THE SCHOOL OFFICE ALL THE TIME SO MY FAMILY WON'T BE FORGOTTEN!
No. No and no. We know you have a lot to say and want to express your love for the school and your sincere desire for your child to be accepted by the school. We know there are unanswered questions you have that pop up. We know it is important to talk through your concerns. But please... do not call incessantly!
A call with a legitimate question is fine, but countless phone calls to the admissions office could highlight your family in a very negative way. Remember, schools are busy too!
I KNOW 10 FAMILIES AT THIS SCHOOL. I WILL TELL ALL OF THEM TO STOP INTO THE ADMISSIONS OFFICE FOR ME!
Contacts and connections can be helpful to relate your family's values to the school in a trusted manner. But be sure to use them strategically and carefully. It's great to know a family that currently attends the school you love. It's great to know alumni who attended the school. It's fine to ask someone to discreetly and tastefully put in a good word for you with the admissions director. But be sure these families you are counting on have a good reputation within the school.
If you are fortunate enough to have connections at one of your coveted schools, be sure to use them wisely!
WAS MY INTERVIEW YESTERDAY?
Oops! Did you forget? It happens to the best of us. Not a great way to start out your relationship, but not a guaranteed rejection. The bigger problem occurs if you don't call with an explanation (that rings of the truth). Admissions staff works very hard to schedule hundreds of applicant families for tours and interviews. When someone doesn't show, the courtesy of a believable explanation is a necessity.
Last, lose any hints of a sense of entitlement. This is a guaranteed "no-no." Unable to get the exact convenient appointment you wanted? Deal with it. Remember, admissions staff note your every reaction. There are many more fabulous families and terrific children than there are spaces in these schools. A parent or family that appears to be high maintenance is not going to be looked upon favorably by a school's admissions office.
I AM GOING TO SHOW MY LOVE FOR MY FAVORITE SCHOOL BY PUTTING DOWN OTHER SCHOOLS.
Big mistake! Be professional and speak respectfully about all schools to which you are applying. If you can't say something nice, do not say anything at all.
Obtaining an application to a school is an easy task. Getting a tour date you desire is easily doable. Getting your child accepted? There lies the challenge! Don't make a challenging task impossible by negative behavior. Take time for self-reflection and always, treat others the way you would wish to be treated... a wise lesson we all have learned in Kindergarten -- or even nursery school!