By Nathalie Kunin
Applying to an independent school in Los Angeles often tops the list of parents’ most stressful tasks. It can feel like facing a towering wave, about to topple you. Although it all seems overwhelming, the tips below will help make gearing up for the school application process more manageable. Embrace the journey toward a new school! The application process really can be both exciting and empowering, especially for students who are ready to make a change. With the right tools and attitude, parents can avoid anxiety and better focus on what’s best for their son or daughter.
Embrace the Process
Don’t shy away from the many steps, big and small, of the application process. Though it feels like there is so much to do, that simply means there’s always a way to move forward and tackle the next piece. Think of it as the opportunity for a learning experience for your whole family, since you’ll likely face similar tasks when it comes to college applications. Taking these life-changing steps is truly empowering for both students and parents ready to spread their wings.
Cast a Wide Net
Apply to at least four or five schools, including target, reach and safety schools and don’t put too much emphasis on any one in particular. Keep an open mind because each school strives in their own unique way to offer the very best education and most welcoming community. Celebrate what each school specifically offers your child and family, even if it that means adjusting your expectations and your idea of perfection. Offering your child several choices diffuses some of the pressure for a more relaxed approach and makes it an exciting field ahead.
Don’t Fear the Test
Though it can seem daunting for many students, the ISEE (or HSPT) is just one part of your child’s unique and wonderful student profile. Schools are looking at the whole child, not just their test scores. Don’t put too much emphasis on it; the test is simply one piece of many that speak to your child’s talents and experiences. Between August and December, create a schedule that breaks down events like the exam and other important dates into manageable parts. Most importantly, unburden your child from test pressure. Their only job is to do their best, not to carry the entire burden of getting into school.
Shield from Stress
Know that your child WILL go to school. If you approach the process in a thoughtful, organized manner, ‘getting-in-nowhere’ is not a possible outcome, no matter what you hear in the rumor mill. De-bunk playground gossip and encourage your child to talk about any fears. Help keep their confidence elevated with daily positive reminders. Anxiety surrounding applications can creep into family life if left unchecked, so make sure it does not dominate your every day. Given the added stress, don’t take away your child’s favorite activities like soccer and sleepovers that can help relieve anxiety. Keep things in perspective and create a balanced fall semester.
Kid’s Voices, Kid’s Choices
Listen carefully to your child’s feelings and insights about each school you visit. Be open to taking a school off the list that doesn’t work for your child or your family, for any reason. School tours are designed to help you fine-tune and whittle down your initial list. If looking all the way toward high school feels overwhelming for a younger child, the short view (middle school) can help focus the process into a more bite-sized approach. Be open to a school that seems like a good fit even if it’s a bit farther from home. Many schools are metro adjacent or offer carpool or bus opportunities in your neighborhood.
You are not alone. There are so many resources available to help guide you through the application journey including school administrators, private consultants and secondary school admissions officers. All are available for advice, guidance and support at every step, and can be a shoulder to lean on throughout this process.
Team Tutors provides private, one-on-one tutoring and test preparation in the student’s home. We customize our programs to meet each student’s needs ages Kindergarten – 12th grade.