Getting organized for school admissions : Smart tips
The school admissions season has started. You are trying to decide on an appropriate school for your child and then working on getting them admitted. Along with these twin missions of trying to decide and then struggling to get admission, there are lots of equally daunting tasks that you need to do - stand in lines to get forms, burn midnight oil in filling up these forms, make tons of copies of report cards and other certificates, tracking the school brochures and the admission deadlines and on and on this list goes. It is rites of passage really. Our parents did it for us and now lo and behold it is our turn.
It sure can be overwhelming. We have some tips to help you get organized of all the peripheral stuff so that you can focus on the important tasks of finding the right school and then seeking admissions.
- Write a one pager about your child (similar to a resume) - brief description, academic track record, activities, hobbies, your and your spouse’s background, perhaps even what you are seeking in a school etc. You could even add a picture of your child. This will help you introspect and analyse what you want and also can enhance your application. Note:
- Format it properly. Make sure there are no typos etc.
- You can tweak the emphasis (academic vs. holistic) based on the school.
- Fill the application form carefully. First read and think about what you are going to write. Make sure there are no typos. Perhaps you can divide and conquer. Whoever (your spouse or you) has a better handwriting can fill up the application form and the other person can do the research and the organization.
- Do not forget to make a copy of the application form that you send. It can help you later in the interviews. And also in case the form gets misplaced or something.
- Get multiple copies of previous report cards and other materials made at one go. It can be a hassle to keep getting them made. This way perhaps you can negotiate a deal with the copier as well. Make sure the copies are of good quality.
- Make sure you have folders for filing and file these materials carefully.
- Keep track of all the admission deadlines and other information of the various schools carefully. It might be a good idea to make a spreadsheet with all the pertinent information: application deadline, admission test dates, interview dates, school start dates, school board, school contact information etc. Or you could add all the dates in your calendar.
- Keep this information accessible - in an icon on your computer desktop or in your calendar.
- Use the Parentree school selection criteria and checklist. You could have a spreadsheet or table with the criteria and the information for the different schools. This way you can have all the information for schools captured. If really confused, make a scorecard for the schools. It can help your thoughts. Of course the end-decision is always qualitative, but some organized analysis beforehand can always help.
- You could even add your general remarks about the school as you visit the school. It can be easy to be confused and mixed-up with so much information.
- Another good tip: If there is one school that you feel is ‘it’ for your child, do not hesitate to show interest. Typically schools like it if parents are really interested in the school. Call the school from time to time. Visit the school with your spouse. Talk to the teachers if possible. Of course you will need to strike a balance between showing interest and being a pest. But then we parents are always doing this balancing act. Of course some schools are very open to parents and some not so. But you can always try.
- Note: When the school is accepting applications, they are very busy so it is not a good idea to ask for a meeting. But once the window is over and you have finished applying, you could ask for a meeting with the principal and learn more about the school.
- Keep some perspective. It is just school admissions and not your work assignment. Stay organized, do your best and then relax.
Nice tips. I particularly second the last three points. Show interest and keep in touch with school - as I mentioned somewhere else in the site, can even try attaching a note with application form why you selected the school.
Very importantly, be equally prepared for not securing admission. It is a fact of life. Keep alternate channels open. Another thing is to keep in touch with the school even if the initial admission results are out - there may be drop-outs or they may decide to add a section! So, if you impress on the school that you are keen on admission there and if you keep in touch, you might just get lucky.