Admission: Finding the Right Fit
over. Relaxation is replaced by anxiety over a brand new cycle
of preschool selection. Over the next couple of months, families
all over New York City with young students will be starting
the process again, preparing for fall tours and application
submissions and anxiously anticipating the interviews, essays
and acceptance or rejection letters.
selection, like hot dogs, taxicabs and the Yankees, is a topic
that sensationalizes New Yorkers for the rest of the country.
You know the story. In a mad rush to get children into the “right” school,
parents will do whatever it takes, including beg, cry, plead
and bribe to get their two-year-old into “the” school of the
moment. The process is such an ordeal that parents begin the
preschool selection hype before the child is even born. The
preposterous thought that seems to take over the mind of a
parent is, “if my unborn child doesn’t get into a certain prestigious
school, she will never go to Harvard!” Preschool selection
in New York City has even spawned a new industry of interview
consultants for toddlers.
these first decisions about your child’s education are very
important. It is the beginning of a lifetime of the learning
process. Preschool is the first place you will send your child
to learn basic life skills from someone other than you. It
is the foundation on which you will first demonstrate to your
child the importance of an education. It is also important
that you as a parent give your child the independence to interact
and make decisions away from you for part of the day, and establish
that bond of having him tell you about his day and the decisions
he made on his own.
notion that New York private-school admissions directors go
into a deep swoon when they see Gucci loafers and fat bank
accounts is silly. We’re educators. We’ve chosen work that’s
relatively low paying because it’s deeply satisfying. What
captivates us most are smart, engaged, interesting, inquisitive
kids whose families are kind, involved, honest and real.
the admissions process we try to learn who the applicants are,
what they might bring to our school, and how our school might
fit with their interests and personalities. We don’t see the
children as accessories of their parents. Rather, we work hard
to see the young people for themselves.
do want to see well-rounded children during the application
process, but we realize that they are only two or three years
old. We do not expect them to answer interview questions with
the charisma of Miss America or perform a flawless soliloquy
from Hamlet, much less be able to tie their shoes.
admissions process should be about finding a great school—not
necessarily a “hot” or prestigious school—for a great child.
When parents think hard about who their child is, and what
kind of academic and social environment will help their child
most flourish and find happiness, then the process works as
always ask me: what can I do to be sure my toddler gets into
a good preschool? Who should I hire to coach her? It’s not
about attending the best school; it’s about the experience
you are beginning together. How do you make sure your toddler
gets the best education she can? The answer from a preschool
director: Be involved. Continue school lessons with fun activities
at home. Be concerned. Ask when you have questions. Be relaxed.
Your child’s future does not depend upon writing her ABC’s
next to the child of a movie star. It depends upon you, her
parents, believing in her abilities, encouraging her individuality
and remaining a life-long participant in her education.#
Rowe is the admissions director of the 64-year-old Mandell
School on the Upper West Side
Update, Inc., P.O. Box 1588, New York, NY 10159.
Tel: (212) 477-5600. Fax: (212) 477-5893. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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