By: Cat Wagoner
In addition to our role as education professionals, many CES team members are parents, too, and we are working through similar challenges and questions as our clients. Most recently, we began the process of exploring private schools for my children. After sitting on the other side of the desk, I am sharing what I've learned about the private school interview process.
Before the interview
Are you applying to private schools for your child? Do you have a private school family interview approaching? The private school admissions process can be highly nerve-wracking with the most stressful part being the interview portion. A family interview is often a tool used by the admissions team to get to know families and their students beyond the application and teacher recommendations. The interview is a time to showcase your family and your scholar so be prepared!
To put the best foot forward, be sure to get all the details about the interview. Find out who is invited to the interview–often it’s only for parents. Confirm who will be conducting the interview: a school administrator? A member of the admissions team? Or, someone else from the school? When in doubt, do not hesitate to contact the school to obtain this information. Do not hesitate to contact the school to obtain this information when in doubt
Beyond the interview details, do your research on the school of interest. Prospective families should diligently read through the school’s website, brochures, and magazines focusing on academics, values, philosophy, and extra-curricular opportunities. Doing your research will help you get a sense of the school’s community and environment. Your goal should be to walk into the school knowing what the school can offer your scholar and family. Be prepared to show and tell the school why your student is the perfect candidate for their community. Even if it does not erase all your nerves, you will be more comfortable in the interview the more familiar you are with the school and the campus.
During the interview
Most likely, the interview will consist of a variety of questions about your family and your student. The more prepared you are the smoother it will be. Some of the most common questions include topics like:
Why are you considering a private school learning environment for your child?
What are your child’s hobbies, likes, and interests?
What subjects are your student’s favorites?
What are your child’s strengths and weaknesses?
Can you describe your child’s personality and character?
What makes your child unique? What qualities make your child special?
What does your family do together for fun?
What excites you the most about joining this school?
How do you see your family as a part of this school community?
Can you elaborate on how your family values align with the school?
Can you describe the learning environment in which your child thrives?
When it comes to your child’s learning experience, what is the most important to you?
In addition to what the school asks you, the interview is part of a mutual discovery process! Not only are you showcasing your scholar, but you are also interviewing the school to discern whether it is a good fit for your family. You want to ensure a particular school is a place where your child will thrive, so be prepared to ask your questions to get clarity around this mutual connection. One caveat before beginning your questions is to only ask questions that you cannot find the answers to on your own as this can waste precious time with your interviewer! Here are some potential topics to explore during your question portion of the interview:
How do you encourage and foster leadership skills?
How do you integrate technology into the school day and curriculum?
What opportunities are there for parent involvement?
How engaged is your parent community?
How does the parent community contribute to the school?
What do the extra-curricular opportunities look like?
What does a typical school day look like?
What does your approach to discipline look like?
How do you balance academic rigor with social development?
After the interview
After the interview is complete, it is good practice to send a handwritten thank you note that references specific, meaningful details from your conversations. Depending on time and distance, a thank you email can suffice. Whether through a card or email, the ultimate goal is to let the admissions team and administration know you appreciate their time and are very interested in the school!