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ParentsCanada Guide to Private School - Fall 2017

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ParentsCanada Guide to Private School | 2017 26 | by LY D I A J . H AW K I N S ADMITone PRIVATE SCHOOLS SEEK STUDENTS THEY CAN SET UP FOR SUCCESS. HERE'S HOW THE ADMISSIONS PROCESS WORKS. Where do I start? Word-of-mouth is the best way to learn about independent schools. Talk to co- workers, family members and neighbours. Internet searches, educational directories and national organizations are great one- stop shops for information. Visit sites that accredit private and independent schools, such as Canadian Accredited Independent Schools (CAIS) and The Association of Boarding Schools (TABS). How do you schedule a campus visit? Once you have a few schools of interest, schedule a campus visit by contacting the admissions office. Schools will schedule a personal tour or direct you to open house or information sessions. Provide a little information about your child, such as the grade they are seeking and specific interests so the admissions office can tailor the visit. Give your cell phone number so the school can reach you with last-minute information about your visit, such as school closures. For the most part, campus visits are scheduled within the academic day so families can truly get a feel for the school. What happens on a visit? You can expect to have a walk through the school, watch a few minutes of classes, and speak with the admissions office. Some schools will have you speak with teachers or shadow a class. Many schools will use the time to conduct the child's interview and do the student assessment. Whether you're just starting to research, seeing the school for the first time, or are partway through the application on a return visit, treat each visit as a chance to make a first impression. (Remember that while you're looking at the school, they are considering you, too.) Even if you're in the early stages of your search, let your child know why you're there; it's important she or he is on board. What are standardized tests and assessments? There are different assessment tools for various age groups. For middle and senior schools, the most popular standardized test is the SSAT (Secondary School Admission Test). The SSATs are typically used as part of the application process, not as a make-or- break component. Preparation can ease nerves before an assessment, but too much prep can cause anxiety, which has the potential of producing a skewed score. What is included in the application? The application is another opportunity for the school to learn about your child and family. They will ask why you're considering a new school and how it can best support your child. Students' essays are a first insight into their academic abilities. Answers should be thoughtful and edited, but a true reflection of their writing abilities and thought processes. For many schools, the completed application will also include report cards from current and previous schools. Shutterstock.com

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