If you want to send your child to private school, you're eventually going to have to attend a parent interview or two. Do you remember your admissions interviews when you were applying to colleges? There's a chance that you may find your child's private school admissions interviews even more nerve-wracking, if only because you care so much about making sure they get the best education possible. But relax and take a deep breath – here are some tips to help you get through it.
Think Of It As A Conversation
They may call it an interview, but they expect you to ask questions too. So, what you really want to have is not an interview, but a conversation. And that's good, because a conversation is much less intimidating than an interview.
You definitely want to keep up your end of the conversation, so do some prep work so that you know what you want to ask. Check out the school's website – you don't want to waste your time and the admissions director's time by asking questions you could easily get the answers to on your own. Ask the questions that you really need answers to – if your child has a special talent or a special need, for example, you need to know exactly how they can nurture that talent or meet that need. Don't downplay your child's needs – a school that can't meet them isn't a school that you want to be at, so it's best to find that out right away.
If you get stuck for an idea, ask what type of child and family excels at that school. See if you recognize your child and your family in the answer.
Review Your Application
The night before the interview, it's not a bad idea to go back over your application to the school and any essays that you or your child submitted. The admissions director is likely to ask you what interests you most about that school and why you believe your child would be a good fit, among other things. Looking over the materials you submitted can help remind you why you wanted to apply in the first place.
This is especially helpful if you've applied to several different schools (which you should do – it's best not to put all your eggs in the same basket). It's easy to mix up the high points of two different schools if you've been thinking a lot about both of them recently.
Think About What You Can Contribute
It's a well-known truism in the educational field that parental involvement is key to student success. Parental involvement is also a good thing for the school – it helps them turn out more successful students and it also helps them offer more to those students. This is true for both public and private schools – the difference is that public schools have to take students regardless of their parents' level of involvement with the school. But in a competitive private school, a parent with something special to offer – or at least a great willingness to jump in and volunteer their time or energy – could be the thing that tips the scales in your child's favor.
If you have a special talent to offer, or plenty of time to devote to booster club activities or band field trips, it couldn't hurt to bring it up during the parent interview. And if you haven't considered how you might get involved with the school before now, it's a good idea to think about it before you go in for the interview. However, stick to actual involvement – don't whip out your checkbook and promise a big donation. At one time that might have been an acceptable tactic, but many of today's admission directors will consider it a faux pas. Your child's school will happily take donations after your child has been accepted, but they're likely to be offended at the implication that they would let you bribe your way in.
Once the interview is over, take a moment to send a short and sweet note of thanks to the director – or to whichever staff member conducted your interview. Send that off, then do something fun with your child and try not to worry about the outcome. One way or another, your child will end up in the school that's right for them.