Dr. Grauer's Column - Applying To Private School: Is It Stressful?
Applying To Private School: Is It Stressful?
Some of our applicants may be feeling the strain right now about getting your admissions applications in, making decisions about schooling for next year, etc. Our seniors applying to colleges for next year can really relate! Deadlines and the stresses of being evaluated are daunting. Take a step back. What have you learned? About yourself, your child, your own educational philosophy? The benefits of searching and discovering independent schools are undeniably many, even if you ultimately choose a different path.
Here is a comical but useful way some people look at it: What if, for the price of an oil change, you could have full access to private consultations, speeches, tours, and references that were guaranteed to change and enlighten your views on schooling forever? What if your best-fit, life-changing school or even a whole other way to see “school” was right in your community and you never even explored it?
Applicants: Try to think of the private school application process as an exercise in self-discovery and friend-making—even if you are a long shot in going. When else will you have an opportunity to learn about all the different options for schooling, to reflect on your own educational values, and to express to someone what you and your child are all about? Now, I know what you are thinking: applications are stressful, and there are deadlines to meet. But few people in The Grauer School's pipeline end up feeling this way in the end.
I love to view applying at Grauer quite a bit like I view sightseeing. Personally and professionally, I love to visit schools, and often prefer them to the “sights” when I’m on the road. Some of my favorite vacations include visits to fascinating places like Athenian School, Pasadena Polytechnic, Phillips Exeter Academy, Maui Preparatory Academy, Stevenson School, and Nanjing Number 1 School. Each visit was a picturesque, eye-opening and unforgettable exercise in friend-making and educational reconnaissance. And a great admissions officer is like a tour guide. Here is what one Grauer visitor noted:
“What IS it about this place?” Every time we are over there, we see kids actively engaging with each other one-on-one, in small groups, and with teachers; talking about their lessons, singing, laughing, hugging, running, playing. You feel it as you enter the space: love is all around! You read it in the body language of the teachers, giving them their full attention, with a smile and often a supportive hand on the shoulder or hug.
- Father, Sophomore Class Student
Sure, visiting a new place formally can make some children anxious. So, here are some time-worn tips that work: Don’t overdress or over-prepare your child. Casual clothes are usually best, and you can emphasize that they are going to spend some time hanging out just like a tourist. Don't put your child on the spot or speak for your child. When they feel comfortable, their personalities will shine through all on their own. No matter what the age of your child, don’t ask too many probing questions after the visit. Allow your child to initiate the conversation—see what percolates.
Many Grauer School applicants take comfort on their visits in a new vision for school: Private schools can reduce worries about safety, increase a child's exposure to disciplined scholastics and environment, offer reduced class sizes, and offer optimal environments for high academic engagement and collaboration. What if all this was right in your neighborhood? Additionally, reading about the school’s financial aid process can definitely be a stress reducer! Keeping the long view is another heartening strategy: once you are thinking about applying to colleges, you’ll be a veteran. As 2017 Grauer alumni parents Thor and Jeannette phrase it: “We chose Grauer years ago with the hope that the Grauer philosophy and values would encourage our daughter to become an engaged, empathetic, critical thinker and active learner. It is fantastic to see that validated by …her college professors!”
One of the top benefits of applying to The Grauer School in particular, is that, for a season, you have access to two of the smartest and most caring, encouraging people we know: Olivia Kleinrath and Tricia Valeski, our Admissions team. You will find that they don’t just want you to come to Grauer: they want you to find a beautiful school for your family. As Tricia puts it, “Whatever the outcome, people have learned what we are about and a little about themselves in the meantime.”
Maybe your visits pan out or maybe they don’t, but the potential upside is undeniable and compelling:
“I wanted a loving, open environment and I found The Grauer School.”
- KM, Senior, Class of 2017
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