Your teen’s entry into private high school cannot be taken for granted. With public schools beset by a variety of issues (discipline, poor test scores, safety), private high schools offer your child a quality education in a safe environment.
When you order an information packet from a private high school, you will find that essays and short answer essays are necessary for both you and your teen. Your teen, who should be comfortable answering essay-style questions, will be asked about his academic strengths and weaknesses, his desire to attend private school, and his hobbies and extracurricular activities. However, questions directed at parents often have a different focus and are designed with different purposes in mind.
Essay questions directed at parents are generally analytical in nature. Rather than asking for data, these questions ask you to talk about your character as a teenager, talk about family dynamics, and evaluate your role as a supporter of the private school. Admissions directors at private high schools acknowledge that teens who are raised in a stable, education-focused home are far more likely to be successful than their peers who have less support at home.
Similarly, private school administrators examine your essay responses to determine whether you can be counted on to support the high school financially or through volunteer work. As you can imagine, administrators cannot legally or ethically ask some of these questions, but they can make inferences based on their answers to the application questions.
For example, an application question may ask what you think your child can contribute to XYZ. This type of question really asks you to talk about your child’s academic, social, athletic, and extracurricular interests. If you have visited the school, reference your visit to show that you have made an effort to learn more about the school. Your answer should address each of your child’s areas of interest and strength. Here is a sample answer to this question:
During our recent visit to XYZ, Tommy pointed out the well-equipped science lab and asked me a series of questions about the science curriculum available to students at the school. Tommy has a longstanding interest in studying science and has done well in elementary school and we believe that he will bring that interest and aptitude to his high school studies. His current teachers note that Tommy regularly asks thoughtful and insightful questions in class. In addition to working hard to perform well academically, Tommy will be a willing participant on the school’s baseball team and / or its marching band. Tommy maintains a busy schedule throughout the school year and, as a well-rounded and serious young man, will represent the ideals and message of the XYZ school now and in the future.
Family stability and religious issues
Other questions will ask you more directly about your future involvement in school fundraising and other activities. These questions are designed to assess the stability of your home life and your potential for future financial support. For example, an application for a religious school might ask about the role your religion plays in your life. A non-religious school might ask you why you are considering XYZ school. Here is a sample answer to this type of question:
Our family is an active member of the XYZ church. We are active members of the social action committee and every Thanksgiving our entire family, including Tommy and his two sisters, volunteer at the XYZ Church used clothing center where we help gently distribute used clothing to people. homeless. Tommy and his sisters have been greatly affected by this activity, as well as other church-related functions. With the practical opportunity to minister to the less fortunate, Tommy has a personal understanding of the message of the XYZ religion. We try to reinforce that message at home by attending services regularly and making daily prayer a part of our routine. At XYZ Private Elementary School, both my husband and I have served on the board of directors and are active participants in the school’s annual Feed the Hungry campaign.
Answers like the ones above are designed to send a message to school administrators that both you and your teen are serious, dedicated, and stable individuals who will fit in well with the community that thrives within a particular private school. If you make an effort to study the type of community that exists within a particular school and model the essay for the entrance questionnaire to that community, you will greatly increase the chances that your child will gain admission.