The following excerpt is from a post on Princeton Academy‘s website, courtesy of Princeton Academy and Matt Trowbridge.
One of the most important decisions parents make is where to send their child to school… The decision takes plenty of time and thought to make the best choice for the child. As a teacher and coach for many years, (Matt) Trowbridge brings a myriad of relatable skills to his role. Here he offers 5 tips to parents and students on surviving and thriving during the high school application process:
- Know Your Child: You don’t want to fit the school to the child; your child has to fit with the school. It’s natural for parents to get caught up in the neighborhood talk about the “best” schools, but they need to ask themselves what has been working for their child. Take a look at his(/her) middle school experience. Look at his(/her) current learning environment, extra-curricular activities, and even his(/her) friends. If that has been working, then look for something similar. If your child wants a bigger opportunity, let him(/her) guide you to find the right fit.
- Start Early: During 7th grade, we start to look at the options. For students considering boarding schools, it’s especially important that you leave enough time for traveling. Whether boarding or day, try and visit when school or a camp is in session to get a feel for what it’s like with the students there. Consider everything too–from cafeteria food to classroom environment. Listen to your gut because it all counts for your child to have the best experience.
- Stay Open: This process can be very emotional for parents and children, so it is important for both to stay open to ideas. Lack of communication is detrimental to the process. Kids: remember that your parents are coming from a good place and they want what’s best. Parents: Stay open to your child’s ideas and interests. Things change from month to month, so just keep your arms and mind open and look at everything.
- Practice the Interview: …This is also the opportunity for your child to talk about his interests, achievements, and personal goals. The goal is to “brag without bragging.” Admissions officers meet hundreds of kids every year; in 15 minutes they will be able to gauge a candidate’s intentions and impressions. What will always read the best and be the most salient during the interview is the real child.
- Application Red Flags: Don’t invent anything in the 8th grade year. While it can make the application look better to fill up empty space, it can appear as a red flag. Take a look at everything that your child does or has done previously because it all matters. If they did 4 years of karate from 2nd to 6th grade, that is just as important as trying rowing for the first time in 8th grade. Longevity is key, even if they have moved on to developing another skill.
While it can be scary for parents, let your child guide the process. Since most families don’t go through this process until it’s time to look at colleges, this can be a rewarding process for kids to evaluate their expectations from a school, and really look at how they learn best.