It’s that time of year. In high school, college counseling offices and guidance offices spend a lot of time preparing students for college visits, practicing interviews, providing guidelines for attire, and suggestions for questions to ask and things to look for on college visits. But what about those young students and families considering a transition to boarding or day school? Like colleges, many independent schools will host an Open House during the fall so that students can prepare to submit applications for mid-winter deadlines to enroll the following year.
We are looking forward to our own Open House on October 14. It is a great day for our community as students and faculty showcase all the things they love about New Hampton School. We talked with our Admission Office, and some of our Husky Ambassadors, to come up with some tips for attending a prep school admission open house that a student and a parent might ask.
1. What do I do in classes?
Most open houses allow you to visit classes. Get to know the teacher in classes, and observe how they interact with their students. What would you say the style of teaching is at the school? Does the teacher seem to have a good relationship with the class and students?
2. What should I ask the students?
The students at the school are your best resource! Take advantage of any opportunity to ask about their experience. In particular, you might want to ask, how did you know New Hampton School was the right fit? Use time with students to ask questions about things that probably won’t be part of the all-school presentations.
3. What do I wear?
Every school has a different culture and community. Of course, you should wear something that is comfortable, while also presenting your best self. If you’re curious about the dress requirements for the school a great way to learn about this is through photos on the website or their social media. How are the students dressed in photos on their campus and in their classrooms?
4. How do I know what the community is like?
Every school talks about the community that they offer being a huge part of what makes it special, yet every community is different. Being on campus with the students and teachers that make up the school is the best way to understand the community. The way that the community interacts and the way that you feel on campus are important observations and considerations when choosing your school.
1. What does this school offer that my current school does not?
Independent schools are an investment and for that investment, you are getting something that you likely are not at your current school. Whether it is smaller classes, academic coaching, a more customized program for your child, hands-on learning, or internship experience, only you will recognize the differences between the schools you visit and the educational options each one offers.
2. How does the school define success?
Does the school focus on achievement, grades, flourishing children, college acceptance? What seems to be their focus as a school and are they achieving it? Each school’s definition of success will help you understand the school priorities and the focus of the administration and the faculty.
3. How would you characterize the student and faculty community?
This same question is important to both student and parent but might be measured and assessed differently by each. How do students and faculty interact? Are faculty addressed on a first or last name basis? Do students and faculty sit together in the dining hall? While the school might characterize the student-teacher relationship for you, there is much to be learned from observing interactions across campus during your visit.
4. How does the school engage the parent community?
What opportunities exist for you as parents to participate in the life of the school and engage in your child’s education. Ask about systems that are in place to communicate with parents regularly and for you to stay informed? There are many different platforms that a school might use to communicate with parents from electronic mail, to a website, to social media.
5. Can I really afford an independent school education?
Most independent schools have programs in place to support socio-economic diversity at their school and to make the cost of tuition accessible to a range of families. Ask about these programs, and consider the investment you would be making in your child’s education, and how that investment might impact your family.
New Hampton School will host an Open House for prospective students and families on Saturday, October 14. Learn more about what to expect at our event.