1. How has COVID-19 affected the Independent Schools Admissions process this year?
COVID-19 has thrown NYC Independent School Admissions, which previously thrived on the personal visits with children and families to their schools, into chaos. Nearly all visits and interviews are virtual, school events like Open Houses and Talks With the Head of School are virtual, and parents are at a HUGE disadvantage in getting the pulse and flavor of the schools. Many schools are using the T&E as an interview tool, but not all schools. Some schools are asking for a one minute video, and some schools are doing virtual play dates. There is NO conformity.
2. Are virtual assessments the best way to determine a child's learning style and fit for a particular school?
Virtual assessments work just fine to determine a child’s readiness and their learning style.The person doing the assessing needs to be animated, prepared, organized and flexible.
3. How important are interview skills, both virtual and in-person?
Interview skills for parents AND children continue to be critical. Schools have so little to go on that they are relying on this as an indication of a child’s readiness and parents' interest. Most schools have asked for no mailed thank you notes because most of them are not at the schools as they are working virtually to free up space at the schools and limit contact with adults. They worry that they will not receive the notes by standard mail, so have asked for emailed thank you notes, which they will place in virtual folders. The content of these are very important. “Thank you for meeting with us. Your school is lovely,” will not butter the muffins.
4. How crucial is the parent interview in the on-going school admissions process?
Parent interviews are so important. The schools are assessing interest, knowledge of the school, fit and diversity in these interviews. Relevant questions are very important, and clicking with the interviewer is also crucial. Name dropping is heavily frowned upon.
5. How many schools should you apply to? and how do you determine your favorite/best fit for your child?
Applying to more schools rather than less this year is a proactive strategy. We can only guess that most schools will be more lenient with their siblings and legacies, so that will take up MANY spots, often over half the class. If ever there was a time when manufacturing options was wise, this year is the time. Schools you thought you liked may fall by the wayside when you learn more. Schools you thought you might never consider because they were single-sex, or conversely co-ed, or schools that you need to take a school bus to get to are suddenly of higher interest as you learn more. If there is one piece of advice I would give, it would be stay open to all the possibilities because NYC Independent Schools are all superb. You just need to find the ones that are superb for your child. Your favorite schools will be those that showed you the things that mattered to you, that “got” your child and that are places your family will thrive at.