BY COURTNEY INGALLS
The coronavirus has created a roadblock for schools all around New York City. Admissions teams have been struggling over the last few months shifting from in-person meetings and interviews to strictly online.
Although this transition might be difficult, schools have been working on creating virtual admissions that will be easy and helpful for both students and staff! Not sure how virtual admissions will work? Here are a few tips and tools that admissions teams are using to help students and parents learn about schools for the upcoming season!
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When trying to decide which school students would want to attend, one of the best ways to explore different options is by visiting and touring the campuses. Even though campuses across the country are closed down, admissions teams are setting up virtual tours that kids and parents can sign up for.
“We have a 360 virtual tour that we got shot just about a month after we started to shelter in place,” said Jim Gaines, the Director of Admissions at Green Ivy Schools. “That has been hugely beneficial in terms of being able to take parents on an actual tour of the school, everywhere from walking in the front door, up the steps into their child’s classrooms, seeing all the different specialist rooms, etc.”
Through virtual tours, you can get an idea of whether or not your child will feel comfortable at this particular school and feel like they will be able to fit into the environment around them.
One of the most important parts of the application process is the parent and student interviews. These interviews allow both the admissions team and the student to get to know one another while also seeing if this certain school will be a good fit for them.
Phone interviews can be a good alternative, but admission teams prefer doing interviews via video platforms, such as Zoom, in order to stimulate a proper interview.
Alex Ragone, Director of Enrollment and Marketing at Williamsburg Northside School, said, “Depending on the age of the child, if the child who is three to first or second grade we will do a parent conversation with the child there so we’ll get to know the child and the parent. For older students, for middle school applicants, we will do an application process that has a parent interview as well as the student interview.”
When it comes down to how interviews are conducted, every school is different depending on grade levels.
“In those older ages, a lot of times we will have a couple of students come along in the Zoom conversation to answer questions and have a conversation with the child who is applying. That gives us a view into kind of how they [the applicant] would engage in the community,” said Ragone.
Make Sure to Do Your Research
You might not realize it, but many of the schools you might be looking at usually have tons of information that could be beneficial when it comes to picking a school.
Especially since coronavirus has caused in-person visits to be canceled, schools have been reviewing and updating their websites to make sure they have the right information that people will need such as tuition and financial aid, as well as lists of virtual events that schools will be hosting.
“Definitely do as much research as they [parents] can by visiting the websites. A lot of the website indicates what the school is about,” said Emily Benson, Director of Admissions at International Academy of New York.
Research can feel repetitive and challenging for some people, but the benefits of having some of your questions answered early on will make the admissions process a little less stressful
Communication Is Key
Since there isn’t an option to meet one on one with administrators and potential students, being able to have good communication is a good factor when it comes to choosing a school. Once the potential students and parents do research and see what the different schools have to offer, the next step is to relay questions that you still might have to administrators.
Benson said “Something we’ve always had in place is strong communication, so if a parent asks us a question we’ll answer it right away. We make it very obvious from the beginning that we’re really transparent and open to answer anything.”
Asking as many questions as possible will not only help the school get to know what kind of person the student and their parents are, but also help the students get to know the school’s values and how they function.
“Have your list of questions ready. Be very thoughtful, deliberate, and intentional about what your values are as a family, what is important to you in terms of education, [and] how you perceive your child as a learner,” said Gaines.
The better communication you have, the better experience the student will have at the school that they choose.