Saying goodbye to schools is harder than we thought

I just wanted to throw that out there in case anyone else is having a hard time too. For more than a half a year (any maybe longer), we have been dreaming about each one of these schools – imagining what life would be like for DD to be part of their community; for us to be the XYZ Academy Parents.

We pictured DD pulling up her chair to the tables we saw in the dining hall at one school.

We imagined DD walking into the library with an armful of books at another.

I mentally planned out what flights I might take for parents weekend, and which hotels we would try to book far in advance.
We didn’t know which schools would be options.
And we didn’t fully realize that for a half a year, we had been living with this collection of imagined memories that were pieced together by an imaginary school that had a little bit of all of our favorites in one place.
So there is a bit of grief in saying goodbye.

There just is.
DD will love her school! And she is thrilled.
But we also cried as we made hard decisions and said goodbye.

I’ll end on a positive note: most hello’s in life involve a goodbye. Saying yes to one thing means saying no to others. (Life tip: this is a truth that keeps me from being an over-scheduled people-pleaser, which I spent the first half of my life being, BTW.)
The secret to it all, I have found in my half-century of living, is not only recognizing the no behind every yes, but celebrating the YES that comes from every NO. (Even those we don’t choose.)

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100% yes! When my older applied 4 years ago she did not choose my favorite school and I cried, literal tears, when I emailed the AO to say she would not be attending. Lesson learned, with my son I was much less invested and tried to not make strong attachments until after he picked. I think the first is the hardest, at least for people for whom this is their first “new school.” My kids had both been in the same school system since K so high school was really the first big change and it was such a huge change.

I will balance out the soft emotional side by just reminding everyone (including me) that this is also all just part of the process. Admissions offices know they aren’t getting a yield of 100%. So while this is hard, know that we do not have to feel guilty or “bad” about it. People know you can only accept one school. (Just as we know that they can’t accept all applicants.)

so while we may feel sad about it, we do NOT feel “guilty” about saying no.

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It’s true their is a “guilt” component to saying no to other schools, which are also fine schools that offered my child the world, we had that issue with 4 schools. But ultimately my child knew what they wanted and what would make them happy. So yes writing those " thank you" “but no” letters was hard and pressing the send button was even harder. But at the end, all of the AO’s wrote back and wished my child well in all of their future endeavors.

Saying goodbye or declining offers of admission were VERY hard. When an AO called from one school to ask @ our decision, she hung up without saying goodbye or even asking why. I felt that it might help to know the ‘’why”, so we wrote a letter. On a happy note, we are still in touch with one fantastic school and feel so confident about their programs that we try to support them in any way possible - especially by cheering them on through CC posts! I met THE most inspiring people at some schools and really had wanted to stay in touch - at least I am staying in touch with a few of the folks at one school and feel confident in sharing positive information with other families.

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K1 and K2 were both accepted to the same 3 schools. For the 2 we declined, one quickly replied to the emails the kids sent to the two AOs, congratulated them, asked where they were going, wished them well, that sort of thing.

The other school was totally radio silent. No responses from either AO, nor the head of admissions or head of school, whom we’d met and had discussions with during the application process. I know they’re all busy, especially with Covid-19 stuff. But, I have to admit that their silence made us feel that much better about not having chosen the place.

I’m feeling all of this right now but with colleges. With Prep school my daughter surprised me by choosing her 2nd choice (secretly my first choice) a school that is barely if ever mentioned on CC. It was absolutely the right decision and we are reaping the benefits now.

Thank you for this thread. I am having a very, very hard time saying no. We truly love, and see something special and unique, in each of our top 4 acceptances. I so want to say yes to all. And some AOs and staff have been exceptionally generous in their time and patience with questions.

I am also sad that COVID 19 is, without doubt, changing our choices. The current “most likely” (not quite the same as front runner) is in the lead because two others can’t be visited, and the other is in a big city, likely to be a hot spot. Is it harder to wonder “what if” or harder to cross off phenomenal opportunities you have actually seen in person?

Ultimately, those of us with choices are so fortunate. Life is full of curve balls, choices, and the decision to embrace what is instead of wondering what might have been. Here’s to hoping I can take my own advice. But truly, we all are in an enviable position.

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? @southernfemmom - you can get some cheer on this topic by checking out my poem on the Freak Out thread.

Your thoughts remind me of the “tragedy of commitment” section in Andrew Boyd’s book, Daily Afflictions:

Just a bit of levity here, but no…we didn’t have that problem. And looking back-I’m glad we didn’t. Because we would’ve picked the wrong school. I’m sure of it. DS is sure of it. We would’ve been swayed by popularity and “prestige”. We would’ve been lured by the name.
Someone upstairs looked out for us. DS has felt his school was perfect for him from the start, but his love and loyalty have grown exponentially each year.
I don’t envy the position y’all are in, yet I did very much so 3 years ago.

We so felt this for college, less so for BS. One in particular was so hard to say goodbye to.

The silver lining is that you have great options. As long as are just feeling bad about saying no rather than worried you’re getting it wrong, you’re on the universe’s good side. When you have sent in that deposit, don’t look back…

@aquapt oh wow. That was intense. But true.

My heart goes out to @Calliemomofgirls and the other families on here who have to make a tough decision without the benefit of attending Revisit Days. Be prepared for ambivalence and self-doubt - a lot of us have it. We are still having some even 2 years later. Once you make that decision, however, be positive for your kiddo and don’t let them hear/see your doubts or negativity. Be a cheerleader for the school they have chosen.

On our end, we aren’t having doubts. We still had to end the imagined futures we had built over the past six months with other schools. Totally normal I think – our thought was if you can’t truly picture your life at a school then it probably doesn’t belong on the application list. But that meant a lot of imagining.

OK - y’all…you have heard this before but it’s worth repeating. At the end of the day, it really is about what you (as the student) make of the whole BS experience.

You think “saying goodbye” to a school is harder than you thought? Try saying goodbye to your student in September?

Trigger Warning! Time for me to share more advice and to vent. Disclaimer: I am sure that many schools out there have genuine students and faculty, welcoming kids, and a wonderfully diverse community that lives in harmony. I’m sure that the launch of BS was like a Hallmark Movie for many of you. I am going to share our experience that was not so great.

1 - Do NOT overthink your decision.

There are some commonalities shared by all US boarding schools - some shared with all high schools. Some good stuff and some bad stuff. I think the schools are very much more the same than different. If you look at social media posts on Instagram, Tick Tock, etc. that feature BS kids, you can see similarities in dress, interests, recreational activities, even their jokes.

Commit. Decide. Then commit again to crafting a life at the school by getting involved - beyond the classroom. Get involved with community service, athletics, campus organizations, performing arts, yearbook, newspaper, faith based activity, SOMETHING! Also, try to find an organization that you don’t have to try out for - ones you can join in the Fall so you have a group of friends outside of your dorm and even outside of your class year.

2 - Be prepared for the school to be different than the View Book or tours.

My kiddo got totally shafted at the start of Freshman year. Totally fell through the large cracks of the system. Even at the end of the first year still happened. Socially - be prepared for each of the “elite” boarding schools to have a group of elitist and entitled kids - you know the ones by their uniform (Love Shack, Moncler, Golden Goose, Gucci, etc). Also, be prepared for some kids who think they are so much smarter than your kid. All schools have that group too. Also, there are the fac-brats with some (not all) parents who serve as both the snow plow and Zamboni. At our school they get special treatment.

3- Imaging the worse situation possible - be prepared for it!

One good thing about no Revisit Days this year, you got to miss the fake nice of some schools. I think there should be a special College Confidential Oscar awards for best acting by an AO, a supporting Oscar to the “flying monkeys” of fake students? Maybe, I will start that thread in September?

We have found that all schools tend to have a group of not nice kids and also a group of friendly kids. We have also (unfortunately) experienced what it is like to have a “green key” bail out or not show up - to be totally alone and to have the school not care or help out. We had our family left without a seat at the welcome lunch because a snooty & selfish group of families who knew each other took our assigned seats. We had no adult or assigned Senior proctor help our kiddo even though their gushingly sweet welcome letter stated “Call us anytime we will be there for you”. I won’t even get into the roommate situation. We were given the most fake “host family” who never called us, never met us, and when we did call to ask questions were told to ‘look on the website”. We had probably the most horrendous first day of BS that anyone on CC could think of, and we got through it - thanks to @buuzn03 & @MAandMEmom and @sunnyschool .

At some point, your kid will be on their own and they will have to live with that decision and navigate the course they have chosen WITHOUT you. Maybe this is what is fueling some of that anxiety. So, try this. Imagine where your kid would be best able to make himself/herself thrive and find happiness when miserable? That’s what my kid had to do - alone… This is what may actually happen at some “top” schools. Find an adult for your kid that can be dependable and actually trust. If you can figure that out, you will have a good starting point.

So our mission, was to become the people & family we never had or never met when my kiddo started school. We are the giving and welcoming host family. My kiddo was the ultra-supportive green key/big sister with the giant welcome sign and shoulder to cry on all year long, and we advocated…so we just do what we can! Maybe someone from our school or another school is lurking here and can learn from this.


@Golfgr8 I hate that y’all had rough times. I hate it for many others, too, that I’ve heard from and tried to help navigate.
But I hope that others do listen. Because much of what you’re saying-it’s true. We are lucky that we’ve had such a great fit in our school. There’s been a few hiccups but they’ve been smoothed out. We’ve never had the run ins with entitlement or “posturing” at BS (although there’s enough at DD’s day school to cover for his ?).
I will second the statement as to where will your an/daughter thrive personally and socially without you - they’ll thrive academically and be pushed. They’ll have extracurriculars out their ears no matter where they go. It’s the people, the culture, the environment that will make that difference. Only you can decide what’s best for you and your kid.
And once you decide-don’t look back.

Thank you for being hard core honest @Golfgr8 and I’m sorry the community hasn’t been as kind as they should have been. Kudos to you and you kid for trying to break that system too. I think most of these schools recognize that an institution that can charge what is essentially a college tuition/board is also going to be fundamentally classist and racist and the more self aware and able to break free of past expectations the school is, the more open and welcoming the community will be. At the parent part of the interview at a conservative school we were told “if our school really does want to change as it says it does, than she needs to be here. (Paraphrased to preserve anonymity, but you get the jist )” She was WL, and I suspect beyond issues of geographical diversity and ORM, our interviewer was not able to convince the rest of the admissions committee about why a more progressive stance on inclusivity might be important. (Kid applied bc school was strong in her EC).

Thanks @parentofnicekid ! Appreciate your honesty, also.
After visiting a number of schools and working with members of faculty at a number of schools, I believe that there needs to be some “house cleaning” done. There are some longstanding faculty members, long standing Heads, BOTs, and entrenched AO’s who fuel a culture at some schools that make change difficult. No easy answers.

@Golfgr8 thank you for your honest post. I hate hearing that was your family’s experience. I admire your family for pushing past it and finding the joy in BS, and for using your experience to help others. Your post definitely helped me.

@aquapt great post, too. I need to get there! :slight_smile: Pretty sure we are down to just two schools, though!