Private school rejection? Don't panic.
I write mostly about public schools, but private schools have their own methods and rituals that affect many families. At this time of year, for instance, parents looking for a good private school often find themselves in trouble.
They have applied to a school they had their heart set on. They have been rejected. Actually, it is their child who has been turned down, but you know what I mean.
This can create panic. But education consultants who handle such cases say there are many options, even when many people assume the admissions process is essentially over for the year. Some consultants go so far as to suggest there are ways to add private school extras to a public school education.
The first thing consultants do is try to calm their clients by explaining that a rejection does not mean their child has some irredeemable flaw. “I explain that often schools reject children and families who are not the right fit for their school, rather than it being a reflection of numbers or anything wrong with their application,” said Liz Perelstein, a consultant based in White Plains, N.Y.
“Sometimes the denial to a school is a good thing,” said Jean Baldwin, a District-based consultant. “If the student is not right for the program or the curriculum, he or she will not flourish.”
A call to the admissions office can be useful. Did the student’s campus visit not go well? Were the grades and test scores too low? “This information can be very helpful in future planning,” said Frances Turner, a consultant based in Bethesda.
Charlotte Nelsen, admissions director at the Potomac School in McLean, said she loves talking to parents of rejected applicants, except she had banned the R-word from her office. Instead, Potomac’s letter says the child has merely been “denied for next year.” Nelsen said “children will grow and change.” She tells parents, “Please don’t feel this relationship ends with the letter you receive in the mail.”
Georgia K. Irvin, author of “Georgia Irvin’s Guide to Schools” (Madison Books, 2009), said consultants know which schools might fit which child and which schools are likely to have room. In bad economic times, some schools might not be full. Families might have relocated suddenly and left open spaces as late as August.
Parents who prefer private schools can, in some instances, find public schools that suit their needs. In many parts of the country, including the Washington area, you might pay tuition to have your child attend a public school in another district. I know of a suburban family that even paid to have a talented daughter attend a D.C. public school, the well-regarded Duke Ellington High School of the Arts.
Consultants observe a child in their current public school, check the records and look for ways to augment their lessons. If the school system is good, Turner said, she can “design an outside educational support system either for remediation or enrichment, depending on the need of the students.” They can find tutors for children with particular academic weaknesses and after-school and weekend programs even better than what private schools offer.
Education consultants can be expensive. They might charge $180 to $300 an hour or more. There are cheaper ways to get their advice. Rich Weinfeld, a consultant based in Silver Spring, said he organizes conferences that charge only $10 per person. He works with social service agencies that offer his services for little or nothing to needy clients.
In the end, it can still be a difficult process, with parents so wedded to famous schools that they have trouble seeing quality elsewhere. “I ask them to be open-minded as we phone schools that we think would be a good fit,” Perelstein said.
She doesn’t tell them the schools’ names until she finds one with room. They visit. If they like what they see, even if it was not on the list, she said, parents are often willing to give it a try and later are glad they did.
| March 2, 2011; 8:00 PM ET
Categories: Local Living | Tags: Liz Perelstein, Charlotte Nelsen, Frances Turner, Georgia K. Irvin, Jean Baldwin, Private school rejection, Rich Weinfeld, educational consultants say there are many late options, private schools admissions direction never says
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