With COVID-19 still lingering about, the routine of going to school this year has been anything but normal, adding more layers of confusion onto an already tumultuous 2020. If you’re lucky, your child’s school has reopened its doors for full-day instruction or turned to a hybrid learning model while taking heavy safety precautions. Some schools have also switched to completely virtual platforms.
As you navigate the uncertainty of this school year, Kelly Dun, Oak Knoll School of the Holy Child's Director of Enrollment Management and Financial Aid, has provided some helpful tips for families applying to private school as they navigate the pandemic.
1. Start Early!
If your family is considering applying to an independent school – particularly a Catholic school – the best thing to do is to start the application process early. It could take extra time to get to know a school this year if you are not allowed to visit the campus due to COVID-19. First, gather all the deadlines of the schools you are interested in and make a running list. This includes transcripts, letters of recommendations, rounding out the profile section and scheduling interviews. Then, register for their required test dates as soon as possible to secure your spot.
2. Take Advantage of Virtual Platforms
Once you have locked in your testing and interview dates, take some time to visit each school website. It is true that we are drained from too much zoom and screen time, but in the case of applying to independent schools, you will want to take advantage of their virtual platforms. Many schools, including Oak Knoll, have stocked up on new, live on-demand content including virtual tours, opportunities to talk to a current parent or student, interviews with faculty and administration or videos that showcase the COVID-19 health and safety protocols that are keeping current students safe. To get a sense of what classes are like, speak up! Contact the admission office to ask if your child can virtually “drop-in” to a live class.
Listen Now: During this special BONUS EPISODE of the Academically Speaking podcast, we talk with Kelly Dun, Oak Knoll's new Director of Enrollment Management and Financial Aid, about how the admissions team is bringing the campus to life for prospective families from a distance and how the admissions process has changed since the COVID-19 pandemic.
3. Let Us Get to Know You!
Another critically important step when applying to an independent school is to let the admissions officers get to know you! Many independent schools require that prospective students fill out a student questionnaire on his or her own. The admission teams want to hear about the whole student, including their voice, personality, interests, strengths, and challenges. Parents will have their own chance to fill out their own parent questionnaire portion. When completing the parent questionnaire portion of the application, remember that your audience is the admission committee, made up of caring educators, who really want to get to know your child. The admissions officers truly value parent input as parents know their children better than anyone.
4. Match Up Your Goals with the School
Throughout the application process, you want to make sure that ultimately the school and your family have the same goal – to find a great school for your child! Make sure you consider schools where he or she will thrive, discover the world and things about themselves that they (and maybe you) could never have imagined. You want to know that your child is going to love coming to school each day and be met by adults and peers who are all rowing in the same direction.
5. Have Fun!
When applying to an independent school, try to have fun throughout the process! Take it one step at a time by organizing the information, locking in test dates, transcript, and recommendation deadlines. Visit the school’s on-demand content and keep the lines of communication open throughout with the school’s admissions team.
Admissions officers are the true experts invested in helping you and your family meet your educational goals for a successful future ahead. This is a chance for you and your child to figure out what matters most when it comes to education, so find the school that feels right for you!