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How to Get to Know Schools When You Can’t Visit

We understand that the campus visit is one of the most valuable experiences for families exploring independent schools. Walking around, seeing the spaces, observing students in action and gathering an overall feel is an important part of the decision process. With that said, just because campuses may be closed to visitors, that doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to get a sense of fit and make an informed decision. Many schools have found new ways to welcome inquiring families. Here are a few things that you can do:

  1. Attend multiple virtual events. Schools will be offering virtual events to showcase their school. These events will cover different topics and expose you to different voices from the community. By stacking up these virtual events, you can gain a full picture of the school and its community.
  2. Learn about the school’s response to COVID-19 and its preparedness plan. How schools have supported families and implemented their reopening strategy during this challenging time says a lot about how the school solves problems and behaves in the face of adversity.
  3. Talk to current families. If you have friends or colleagues whose children attend a school that you are considering, be sure to pick their brains. Are their children happy? What’s their favorite and least favorite aspect of the school? If they were doing it over again, would they do anything differently? Please know our admissions officers are always happy to put you in touch with current families.
  4. Follow the school’s social media channels. Instagram, Facebook and Twitter will provide yet another glimpse into the school community. The insights that you glean from these posts, which often reflect the school’s ethos, add another layer to what you see in virtual events.
  5. Ask for what you need! If you feel like you’re missing key information or perspectives about the school, ask your admissions contact to fill that void. Want to connect with current students to learn about their experience? Want to observe a class virtually? Admission officers want to help; all you need to do is ask!
  6. Connect with student or parent ambassadors. Most schools have a group of dedicated ambassadors. In addition to connecting with ambassadors at an event, try to meet them regularly throughout the season. Ask the tough questions, share what’s on your mind and be open to learning about their experience.
  7. Reflect on the process. Be attuned to each school’s application process. Often, the application process is a reflection of the larger school community and values, so take time to consider how the school is engaging you. What does the school want to know about your family through student or parent essays? Are the virtual events unique or more of the same? Pay attention to moments that stand out and what they might mean to you.
  8. Focus on the people. One of the benefits of coming to campus is the opportunity to meet people beyond the admissions process. While we are connecting online, chat with people at virtual events–it can be a great way to get a sense of the community.
  9. Take the virtual tour. Most schools have a virtual tour which showcases the campus. Don’t miss it!
    1. Focus on fit. There are many independent schools out there and each offers something different. Don’t let that overwhelm you, rather embrace that you have a lot of good options. Learn about what makes each school unique and if their approach aligns with your values. Will their style of teaching and the curriculum inspire and engage your child? Does the school offer extracurriculars that spark enthusiasm and motivation? What does the school value, and will the community be a place where you and your child feel that they belong?

Admission officers are keenly aware of what your family may be thinking and experiencing as you take on the school search from afar. We are committed to being flexible and supporting you throughout the journey ahead. We encourage you to contact us at admissions-ny@avenues.org if we can be of any assistance.