Dos and Don’ts of Parent Interviews
By Liz Yee, Director of Admission, Lowell School
The parent interview is an important part of the private school admissions process. If your child is entering a preschool, elementary, or middle school, admissions directors rely heavily on you to get a sense of who your child is, to understand your family’s educational values, and to envision your family as part of the school community.
1. Be you! This may seem obvious, but admissions directors want to get to know you and your family—so it’s important to be yourself. Admissions directors want to hear about what you hope for your child’s school experience. Ultimately, they want to know that there seems to be a “match” between your educational values and those of the school.
2. Be sure to prepare. Not every school is a perfect match for every child. Some parents may think that status, location, or other factors may indicate a good fit, but it’s important to really spend time understanding who your child is socially, emotionally, and academically. Think about the type of school environment in which you child will thrive. If you have a spouse or partner, spend time together to make sure you are aligned around the values you see in the school and what you imagine for your child’s future.
3. To prepare even more fully, here are some typical questions that you may be asked during a parent interview (often questions that they also ask on the application):
- What brings you to our school?
- What type of school are you looking for your child?
- Tell me about your child, especially as a learner.
- What type of person do you want your child to be in the future?
- What are three adjectives you would use to describe your child?
- What kind of environments/situations does your child thrive in?
- When is your child at their best?
- What has your child’s school experience been to date?
4. Be sure to get the information you need, too. While the Admissions Office may want to hear about you and your child, this is also your opportunity to ask questions to get to know the school better. Be sure that you have been on a tour, you’ve scoured the website, and have a really solid understanding of the school—you don’t want to waste this meeting with questions that can easily be answered online or by reading an admissions packet that you may have already received.
1. Don’t be late. If you are, be gracious or work to reschedule. Things come up—traffic, a rough start at home getting out of the house. Don’t panic, just get to the interview as quickly (and safely) as you can. Call ahead to let the admissions office know you’re running late. Be sure to keep calling until you connect with a live person—in some cases the admissions director may be waiting for you and not by the phone. They will appreciate your effort to get to the interview and keep them apprised of your status.
2. Unless it’s requested as part of the admissions process, don’t bring a portfolio of your child’s work. While you may feel like sharing your little one’s artwork or letter-writing skills, in most cases admissions offices get the information they need from the recommendations, admissions testing, and spending time with your child.
3. Don't overplay your child's strengths or tell the interviewers only what you think they want to hear. Authenticity and integrity matter.
4.Don’t open your checkbook. If you are falling in the love with the school and are feeling like it’s a great match—that’s good news! You may feel inclined to make a donation to show your support of the school, but it’s best to do that after the admissions process has been completed.
In general, come to the interview with an open mind and heart. You may be surprised about feeling like a school is a good match—or not—and the interview will help you narrow down your choices as the process moves along.
Liz Yee has combined her passion for people and an award-winning marketing background to create her perfect job: director of admissions at Lowell School. You may find Liz observing in a classroom, giving a tour, crunching numbers, or strategizing around Lowell’s brand. Liz earned her BA in English and Communication Arts at North Park University in Chicago, IL, and her Masters of Public Administration with a specialty in marketing research at the University of Illinois at Chicago.