Advice from a Director of Admission
We know how you are feeling. You’ve met as a family and identified several schools you are interested in visiting and possibly applying to, but you still don’t feel as though you know enough about any of them to make an educated decision. You start looking at the different events the schools are hosting and you wonder how you are going to be able to fit everything in. For that reason, it is vitally important that you identify the schools in which you are interested and then map out when those schools have open houses as early as possible.
For prospective families, open houses are a wonderful use of your time and are your one-stop shop in browsing prospective schools: meet the head of school and the admissions office, chat with current parents about the community, ask current students how much homework they have per night, and listen to a teacher’s philosophy on how to best engage your child. Some schools have multiple smaller open houses focusing on different divisions while other schools have one open house where the entire school is on display.
At WES, we always begin our open house calendar with an early childhood focused event. If you are interested in nursery, transition, or kindergarten, this is the perfect open house for you as you will receive concentrated information on the grade to which you are applying. However, in the event you have an older child, you may wish to, and we would recommend, involving them in as much of the process as possible. Weekends open houses are perfect for those families — no work is being missed and no classes are being skipped.
However, we do understand that many families in this area have two working parents and that it can be difficult for you to get a free morning at the same time. Divide and conquer (and this is especially true if there are any open houses being hosted on a federal holiday as many schools tend to schedule them since they anticipate parents being off work)! There is nothing wrong in selecting different open houses for each parent to attend, making an initial connection with the admission staff, taking notes on each school, and then reconvening to identify those which struck a chord. Once you’ve identified the schools that impressed you the most, then it’s time to pull out those calendars again and find a time you are both free to take a school tour and begin cultivating that relationship with the school and their admissions team.