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  • Writer's pictureVicky Keston

Video Applications for Private School

Updated: Dec 8, 2020

Due to COVID, private schools have adjusted their admissions process to eliminate in-person contacts. Parts of the process that used to be in person have been shifted, such as:

  • Tours. We are now touring on Zoom. The upside, we can see more schools in less time. Previously, it took me half a day to drive, park, attend, and return from a tour, including those long-lasting parental questions. Now, we skip the commute (and parking tickets!), and if we decide during the tour not to apply to the school, we can subtly turn off our video, check we are muted, and go about our day.

  • “Optional” Sessions. Previously, in-person events included open houses, as well as info sessions about financial aid, racial diversity, and school community. Attending these signaled higher interest, which mattered to some schools, and required an investment in commuting and babysitting. Now, you can attend from the comfort of your home and use an electronic babysitter.

  • Parent Interview. This discussion is the easiest move to Zoom. Although some prefer the in-person handshake, most of us are now pros at video meetings. Prepare a good question in advance, and remember to have a couple favorite parts about the school’s approach.

  • Child Assessment. Some schools assess the child’s readiness with 1:1 reviews. While academic assessments are more common for older applicants, they have long been part of applications for several kindergartens. Some schools will move assessments to Zoom, so be sure your child is comfortable in this medium. Meanwhile, schools are likely to rely more heavily on preschool evaluations, and therefore, I recommend discussing with your preschool teacher or director how they will complete that. If you need an IQ test for a gifted school in the San Francisco area, I would be happy to connect you with a tester who works in person.

  • Child Playdate. Frankly, the group assessment is impossible to replicate. While many children are accustomed to school on Zoom, interacting with new kids from different computers is not the same as an in-person game with admissions staff. Per the above, schools will likely rely more heavily on preschool evaluations, and therefore, I recommend discussing this with your preschool teacher or director.

In order to add some personal context to the family, many schools are adding a video component to the application. Here are some guidelines for our family.

  • Do record your family doing something you all enjoy. If the school invites you to submit an optional video of your choice, select something you discussed in the essay about your child or family. If your child likes building or painting or baking, record that activity. If your family likes the beach, record building a sand castle or kite. If your child is happy and forgets about the camera, you have succeeded.

  • Do use a tripod to include your nuclear family in the video. I recently bought this tripod for my son because it also attaches to a regular tripod and had good reviews on Wirecutter. I also purchased him this remote to make the start/end less awkward. (Not affinity links, just trying to be helpful.)

  • Don’t hire a professional. Schools are looking for a genuine snapshot of who you are. Spending money on a fancy marketing campaign will not improve your odds and could hurt your application.

Need more help?

Vicky consults with families to help select public and private schools in San Francisco in an environment of non-judgment. Her own children have attended both public and private schools, and she believes that each has unique benefits. Email to learn more about her services.

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