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

<p>My older daughter is a rising 8th grader for whom we are considering the boarding school option.</p>

<p>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. </p>

<p>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.</p>

<p>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?</p>

<p>Does anyone else find this custom odd?</p>

<p>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.</p>

<p>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.</p>

<p>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.</p>

<p>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...</p>

<p>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.</p>

<p>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.</p>

<p>@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?</p>

<p>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?</p>

<p>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.</p>

<p>@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 a specific coach/instructor/chair can give their two cents to the admissions team.</p>

<p>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!</p>

<p>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.</p>

<p>@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.</p>

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

<p>@Neato: Our posts were concurrent...</p>

<p>@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.</p>

<p>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.</p>

<p>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.)</p>

<p>@BayStateResident: I just sent you a PM.</p>

<p>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.</p>

<p>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.</p>

<p>Sorry I didn't read the whole thread, only the first post.</p>

<p>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:</p>

<p>Phillips</a> Academy - Hitting the Road: Greenwich, CT & The Campus Visit</p>

<p>Neato, did you have the opportunity to see your son's teacher recs? Wish we did. I bet there's much for a parent to learn from them!</p>

<p>SevenDad - When my older daughter was looking at boarding schools, the one school that did include a class on the tour (sitting through the whole class) was Miss. Porter's. As that was our first visit, we assumed all schools would offer that, but that experience was never repeated. It impressed us tremendously that MPS allowed us to do that - and was one of the many reasons why my daughter chose to enroll there. </p>

<p>We are now gearing up for daughter #2's boarding school tour this autumn, and this is something I will continue to be aware of/look for.</p>

<p>Regarding talking to teachers/coaches involved with your child's special interests/talents, some schools will ask you if you want to arrange that when you make your interview appointments. Otherwise, just ask yourself, prior to your visit. That should absolutely be arranged for your child.</p>

<p>SevenDad--when we were applying a few years back, we met with the heads of the math department at several schools, and it was extremely useful in helping us decide where the best fit might be for our S. As Mayhew suggested above, we made the appointments directly, once we knew what dates we had for the admissions interview. I've sent you a pm.</p>

<p>I know it may seem off-putting to not be allowed to sit in during class, but the way it worked at my school was that the prospective student would be taken on a tour with another student during one of their free periods. Their parent however would be on tour with a faculty member. After their tour, the prospective student would be brought back to the admissions parlor to have an interview with someone in the admissions office. I'm sure it would be possible to have the prospective student go to class with their tour guide, but you never know what might be happening in that class. For example, there were a few times where I would lead a tour and then head straight to class to take a test or a quiz. Would it be really beneficial for a prospective student to spend 45 minutes watching their tour guide take a test? Furthermore, it would be difficult for the admissions office to speak to every single faculty member each day to see which classes would be worth sending prospective students to. Also, some tours take place during afternoon double periods where their tour guide may not even have a class to bring the prospective student to. The scheduling it would take to have a prospective student sit in on a class would be a huge burden on the admissions office. </p>

<p>Also, I was in some very small classes during my high school career. Senior year I had a class with only 6 people in it (Greek 2)! It would've been an interesting class to sit in on for sure for one prospective student, but at the same time it may not have been something another student would have been interested in sitting in on. </p>

<p>It is better for prospective students to shadow during the spring revisits because that way the class is tailored towards them. There are generally no tests or quizzes scheduled during revisit days and it's a much better time in the year. It can be distracting for both the student and the teacher having 2-3 prospective students sitting in on a regular class, but if the teachers and students are prepared then it can be a wonderful experience.</p>