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A Guide to Surviving High School Admission Season: Part 1

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

It’s the time of year when many Eighth Graders are experiencing a little tunnel vision amidst the pumpkin spice and fall foliage as they approach the first wave of applying to high schools. As parents, it can be difficult finding a way to offer encouragement while not producing or welcoming anxiety as our children navigate this process.

Suzi Horner, our Registrar and High School Coordinator, acts as a personal trainer for high school applicants. Suzi sends weekly updates to parents about the goings-on in the high school admissions scene. She also collects, distributes, and sends teacher recommendation forms, all while advising girls through necessary skills such as graceful and timely requests for recommendations and time management for producing application materials.

In her years helping parents and students juggle the moving parts of high school admissions, Suzi has developed some guidelines to help parents and students emerge from the high school application process with an idea of how to prosper wherever their next steps take them. 

In this series, we are going to break down some tools for moving gracefully through the fraught yet exciting transition to high school.

Research in advance to figure out school application schedules.

Suzi recommends going to the school websites to see when key dates are coming up to create your own admissions calendar for your family, especially because some dates for different schools will overlap. “Don’t wait until the last date to visit or take a placement test--look at how they all overlap first, then decide.” 

Also, hold off on making note of the key dates until you have narrowed down the list of potential schools so that you can manage your time and energy more fruitfully. A school’s testing schedule isn’t going to determine whether or not it’s a real contender—save this part until after the first conversation.

Visit outside of an admissions situation.

Visit the school for official admissions tours, but also try to work in some visits outside of the usual admissions program to see how it fits. “Go to plays, go to concerts, go to athletic events. See how it feels, because at the very least, walking into a building and thinking, ‘This feels like us,’ or going into a school and saying, ‘This doesn’t feel like us,’ gives you a lot of data, even if it’s subconscious data.”

Fill out all the forms all the way!

Take a moment to double check that every bit of information you are supposed to supply on applications and teacher recommendation forms are fully complete. Tensions are high when it gets down to the wire with due dates, and it can really add to the stress to have to be flagged down to finish a form at the last minute.

Also, when it comes to teacher recommendation forms, try to set deadlines for yourself that account for your current school’s internal process. Make sure you allow time before the high school’s deadline for a teacher to complete and return a recommendation in a time frame that is reasonable for them. Remember, teachers are filling out multiple recommendations while managing their course load.