Page 66 - Baltimore Fishbowl - 2017 School Guide
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Insider Tips
on Selecting the Right
School for Your Child
By Elizabeth Heubeck
BALTIMORE’S EDUCATIONAL LANDSCAPE is rich and varied. No two schools are exactly the same. That’s what makes Baltimore such an appealing place to send a child to school. But it’s also what makes it tough to select a school. Below, local experts share the seven best strategies as you wade through the admissions process.
Start online.
Admissions representatives agree that a

introduction to a school. While a website doesn’t serve as a substitute for a “live” visit, a virtual tour can help families gain a baseline understanding of a given school.
Visitschools with
an open mind.
If you grew up in Baltimore, chances are you
have strong opinions about local schools,
but experts caution against preconceived
notions. Heather Harlan Warnack, director
of advancement at Maryvale Preparatory School, explains why: “Independent schools of today are not necessarily the same schools they were 20 or 30 years ago.”

“What feels right for one student or family might not feel right for

Ruthie Kalvar, director of admissions at The Park School of Baltimore.
Look at schools with
a long-term lens.
What families want for their children may change over time. For instance, a same-sex school might be preferable for students at a young age, but not
when they’re older. Robust extra-curricular offerings may not matter much when students are young, but they can be a deal breaker for families of older students.

a different sort of engagement on the part of today’s students. Keep an eye out for schools that are willing to grow and change.”

assistance early in the process.
An independent school education is not

Financial aid forms are due early in the admissions process; they also require a large amount of data and supporting documentation. 
Maintain open
communication with
admissions staff.
Admissions representatives aim to share
with families as much as they can about their respective school communities. Even if a child gets waitlisted or rejected from a school, communication needn’t end.

How much do you favor the school? That can make a difference,” Warnack says.

conversations, like why a prospective student didn’t get accepted, says Amy Furlong, director of enrollment at Gilman School. Parents need to be open, too. Withholding information for fear that it will harm a child’s chances of admission could result in the reverse result.
Examine the strength
of a school’s faculty. Observe teachers in the classroom and ask schools about retention rates. “You want to have the right people teaching the classes—teachers
who really connect with the students,” says Gilman’s Furlong.
Prospective families should use that same level of keen observation to see how students and faculty interact outside the classroom, 
Take the lead on

a child to take the lead on this all-important decision.
“Often we’ll hear: ‘We are leaving this up to our child,’” Warnack says. It’s a practice she discourages. “It needs to be the parents’ decision.” That’s not to say that a child’s input should be disregarded. In the upper school and late-middle school years, student input should be part of a family’s decision, but it’s a lot to ask of younger students.

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