Even before a definitive lists of schools is compiled by a family, it might make sense to drive through campuses of some schools. It is a great way to get a sense of the environment. No matter what types of schools are of interest, it makes sense to be in contact with the schools either online or by phone.
In the private school world, many schools are eager to notify interested families of Open House dates. These same schools are also eager to set-up official admissions visits. It is important for our families to get on the campus of schools that are of interest to them. Getting a chance to meet and talk to members of the community is often the best way to begin to consider “fit”. We encourage families to attempt to look beyond the “bells and whistles” that many schools possess.
Private Schools will encourage you to set-up a time for an official tour and interview. Many schools handle this differently, but most will expect to interview the boy and family. Usually this happens separately. We encourage our boys to prepare for these interviews by being informed about the school they are visiting. They should be ready to answer any number of questions. These include things like “Tell me about your passions” to “What book are you reading?” or “How will you make an impact on our school” or “What questions do you have about our school.” The interviewer’s main goal is to get to know the person they are interviewing as best they can in the time they have. They will be trying to ascertain if the person is the right fit for their school. In many schools, the interview is playing a more important role than ever. In preparing, we ask that boys have a short list of questions prepared that are specific to the school they are visiting. These may come from research of their website, or as a result of something that was learned on tour. If boys feel more comfortable in writing questions down and referring to them, then we encourage them to do so.
We also understand that many 14 and 15 year old boys have not had a great deal of experience being interviewed. The Secondary School Placement Team are more than happy to help prepare our boys for the interview process. As it is with most things, our boys get better with practice. Knowing this, it might make sense for families to schedule a first interview at a school that is not at the top of a list.
We encourage boys to begin taking notes about schools if their plan is to visit more than a couple. As tours and meetings begin to pile up, oftentimes it becomes difficult to remember which experience happened at which school. Having a way to make a bullet list about a visit shortly after leaving the school is a good way to keep things straight.
Public schools do not always allow for visits. Contacting the main office of your local public school is the best way to understand the process that they use to admit new students.