Selecting the “best fit” in schools can be a process, and choosing a school on behalf of your child(ren) for the early formative years is no exception. As both a parent (of current SCS middle school twins) and an enrollment director here at Stanley Clark, I understand the desire for your child(ren) to grow and thrive in a school that meets their social, emotional, and academic needs.
As my children head toward the high school years, I am beginning to navigate the search process, yet again, myself. If schools are local, we have the added benefit of perhaps some familiarity, at least on the surface level. However, the process can be a bit trickier for schools that are out of our local area. Perhaps you are unable to visit schools on your list due to distance or extenuating circumstances. As a result, it’s important to consider how best to navigate your school search remotely.
Below are five tips to help guide you in the process.
1) Create a “Must-Have” List
Before you begin exploring schools further, consider what essentials appear on your “must-have” list. This may be a collective, family effort depending on the age(s) of your child(ren).
Reflect on your core values and what you would consider an ideal environment according to academic expectations, emotional development, and social support. Be sure to consider:
- Instilling an appreciation and love for the arts and music
- Exposure to foreign language(s)
- Nurturing a sense of diversity, equity, and inclusion
- Fostering character development
2) Explore Campus… In-Person OR Virtually
If you can tour during school hours to experience the vibrancy of the school community firsthand, do so, even if it’s later into the process. Interact with the faculty and observe how the students carry themselves and collaborate with each other. However, sometimes touring campus is not feasible. In this case, ask if a virtual tour may be available. Contact the Enrollment Office, and remember, how you are treated may be an indication of how your child(ren) will be treated.
3) Explore the School Website
The school website is a good place to start. The extent to which content is current and fresh can be reflective of the curriculum and classroom experience.
4) Observe the School’s Online Presence
Consider how the school presents itself online – beyond the official website. What does the school choose to share on social media platforms? What is the nature and tone of the post comments?
5) Ask the Deeper Questions
Prospective families should be encouraged to schedule a video conference or phone call so that they may ask a variety of specific questions:
- How does the school deliver on its mission?
- What is the school’s ideal applicant?
- What academically enriching experiences are built into the school day?
- What activities are available beyond school hours?
- Where do your students go after graduation?
- In what ways are the graduates prepared for the next chapter in their lives?
- What is the admissions process like for the applicant?
- When will they have the opportunity to meet some of their teachers and learn about their cohort?
No two schools are identical, but you know your child(ren) best. If you keep their interests and passions in mind, you can’t go wrong. As you navigate through the school search, we are confident you will make the most informed decision for your children to joyfully become the best version of themselves!
About the Author
Director of Enrollment and Community Relations