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Interesting that schools don't let your child "shadow" until Spring revisits

SevenDadSevenDad Registered User Posts: 4,268 Senior Member
edited January 2011 in Prep School Parents
My older daughter is a rising 8th grader for whom we are considering the boarding school option.

We did our multi-stop, multi-day/week (non-consecutive, at least) tour of some New England boarding schools this summer to coordinate with various and sundry camp pickups/drop-offs. Doing so allowed us to get my D's interviews out of the way and also to get enough of a vibe from the schools to cut our already short list down even more.

But of course, for the institutions that made the cut, we had always intended to go back for another visit in the Fall when students were in classes.

In trying to set up some of these second visits this week, I was surprised to hear that the schools don't let the visiting student sit in on a class or two. I was told by two schools already that they don't allow it because it is disruptive. How disruptive is an additional person sitting quietly in a room?

Does anyone else find this custom odd?
Post edited by SevenDad on

Replies to: Interesting that schools don't let your child "shadow" until Spring revisits

  • redbluegoldgreenredbluegoldgreen Registered User Posts: 1,256 Senior Member
    I think it makes more sense to see where your student gets in, then (s)he'll have an opportunity to sit in on classes, be assigned a student to communicate with and a whole lot of other stuff to help her make her decision.

    In our experience, there was only one day school (Nobles) that pulled our student in and let him sit in on classes. I can see how it could be disruptive, if there are only 12 students in the class having a discussion and every day, 1 - 2 new kids are sitting and listening in, it's a big percent of the class.
  • SevenDadSevenDad Registered User Posts: 4,268 Senior Member
    You know, after I posted that (in reaction to just getting off the phone with the second school to inform me of this policy), I realized that this is pretty much the situation I was in when I applied to college.

    I guess our drivetimes to the farthest schools are such that I want to get every single possible opportunity out of each visit. I forget that there are thousands of families who have to do the same thing...
  • opsops Registered User Posts: 818 Member
    In agreeing with RBGG, the "revisits", after acceptance are crucial in helping to determine a final decision. Right now, for lack of better words, your daughter is trying to sell herself to the school. After March 10th, the tables do a complete 180 degree turn and they really pour it on in trying to sell the school to your child.
  • baystateresidentbaystateresident Registered User Posts: 601 Member
    SevenDad- when you do school visits in the fall, you will see TONS of students in the waiting rooms with you. Unless you're applying to small schools with small applicant pools, you probably won't be able to sit in on classes until revisit day- the logistics would just be too much.
  • SevenDadSevenDad Registered User Posts: 4,268 Senior Member
    @ops: On the point of my daughter "selling" herself to schools at this stage of the game, does it ever happen that a candidate student/family reaches out to a department head of a specific discipline in which the student might have a demonstrated strength/passion to ask questions/demonstrate interest/talk shop?

    For example (and yes, this is fictional), what if the kid was a possible first chair clarinetist. Shouldn't that student reach out to the head of the music department and ask for a few minutes of the chairperson's time on the day of the visit?
  • baystateresidentbaystateresident Registered User Posts: 601 Member
    Yes! That happened with both of my kids, one for music, the other for sports. There was email communication before and after the visit and lots of attention on revisit day. That is a good question to ask when you call to set up appointments.
  • SevenDadSevenDad Registered User Posts: 4,268 Senior Member
    @BayStateResident: Did you make contact with these specific departments in conjunction with Fall visits or just the Spring revisits? Again, it seems (to me, at least) to make sense to make these contacts BEFORE the applications are turned in...so a specific coach/instructor/chair can give their two cents to the admissions team.
  • baystateresidentbaystateresident Registered User Posts: 601 Member
    SevenDad- contact was made before the interviews. This was a couple of years ago, but you had to fill out an interest sheet and mail it in two weeks or so before the interviews. I'm guessing that these days there's probably an online form to fill out. The schools themselves then contacted us and suggested that we also meet with person xyz, and the schools made the arrangements- in some cases person xyz met us in the admissions office. This was for sports and music only- not academics! No department chairs either!
  • neatoburritoneatoburrito Registered User Posts: 3,449 Senior Member
    It sometimes happens with academics as well. At at least half of the schools my son visited, the admissions people had a faculty member come to the office to speak with him about an expressed interest or strength. At Hotchkiss, it was a humanities teacher.
  • SevenDadSevenDad Registered User Posts: 4,268 Senior Member
    @BayStateResident: Thanks for the clarification! I still think, if there was some demonstrable extreme aptitude even in a academic discipline that it might warrant some level of interaction with people who might be interested in said aptitude.

    You know, like in "Good Will Hunting", where Matt Damon's character can solve a crazy hard equation...(only partially kidding).

    @Neato: Our posts were concurrent...

    @All: I think I find this odd because at our current day school, which also has small class sizes, kids considering attending can visit for half a day and get some in-class time...they might even throw in lunch so there is time for the kid to ask questions of peers in a more casual setting.
  • baystateresidentbaystateresident Registered User Posts: 601 Member
    SevenDad- yes, there are some crazy smart math kids at Choate (Calculus as freshmen!) and I'm positive the math department would have met with them. For my kids, it was music and sports. Also, remember the larger the school, the larger the applicant pool- we got a lot more attention at the smaller schools. Although, in the end, Choate was the perfect match for both of mine, even with their different interests.
  • neatoburritoneatoburrito Registered User Posts: 3,449 Senior Member
    Make sure your daughter's recommending teacher elaborates on her talent in some way other than just checking the "one of the top few I have encountered" box. (You'll see what I mean when you look at the rec forms - if you don't already.)
  • SevenDadSevenDad Registered User Posts: 4,268 Senior Member
    @BayStateResident: I just sent you a PM.
  • opsops Registered User Posts: 818 Member
    IMO, absolutely and especially for the Arts. These schools literally pour hundreds of thousands of dollars into their Art facilities and want them utilized. Keep in mind the Music Department Head does not have a say when it comes to admissions but certainly don't hold back their hopefully constructive comments. The admission department is very difficult, challenging but extremely fulfilling work. Believe almost all faculty love to partake in the process and very much enjoy meeting prospective students, especially those focused toward their field of expertise. There is nothing wrong when scheduling the tour and interview to mention a desire, time permitting, to meet with the Head of a particular department, you kind of have to play it by ear. They won't know a week out, much less a month out, where a department head may be located at a particular time. Certainly during the interview is the time to mention, hypothetically, your first chair clarinet abilities and I think you'll possibly see them checking the Music Head schedule for availability. If you have a good tour guide, that too can be good opportunity to meet a Department Head. I apologize if I repeat myself, but the Arts are a big deal to all of these schools and I know you will find so many of the facilities incredibly amazing.

    Taft has the Wang building for Math (& Science?), my older son spent an hour with the department head. It was killing me, I didn't understand what they were talking about and I was worried we were taking too long. The guide didn't mind at all, the way he figured it he didn't have to go to class. But, when it did come time to leave, who was there in the Admission waiting room but the Math teacher to talk more to me and I would assume PF/DOA after we departed.
  • 2010 hopeful2010 hopeful Registered User Posts: 2,041 Senior Member
    Sorry I didn't read the whole thread, only the first post.

    Jane Fried, the director of admissions of Andover, was talking about why they don't allow students to sit in on classes at about 6:50 on the following video:

    Phillips Academy - Hitting the Road: Greenwich, CT & The Campus Visit
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