Like most private elementary schools in the Boston area, at The Fessenden School, our process for creating a pre-kindergarten class involves interacting with our young applicants as well as their families. So the time you and your spouse spend on our campus is extremely important to us. This is our best chance to get to know each other.
You won’t be grilled during your campus tour; think of it as a conversation.
“It’s an organic type of interview,” assures Margaret Kelly, Director of Lower School Admissions at The Fessenden School. “By the time we sit down together, so much of the interview has already happened while we’re walking around for an hour. This allows you to ask any questions you have—and any questions that might occur to you as you see the campus and talk with teachers—and it gives us a chance to get to know you in a very natural way.”
As you stroll through the campus of The Fessenden School or another top private pre-K program in the Boston area, here are a few things admissions officers might ask you:
1. What are you looking for in a private pre-K?
“First and foremost, we want to understand a family’s motivation,” Margaret explains. “We want to learn about what they’re seeking in a school environment for their child so we can show them how we might be able to meet some of those hopes and dreams.”
There is no wrong way to answer this question, Margaret stresses. Schools just want to be sure they can deliver on your expectations and, if not, steer you in a direction that better fits you and your son.
2. In what areas could your child use extra help?
Certainly, admissions officers will give you plenty of opportunities to boast about your son’s strengths, but they are also looking for your honest assessment of his challenges.
“Universally, admissions folks really want honesty,” Margaret says. “I don’t think anybody in child development or in education expects perfection. There’re going to be little warts and things, so just own it and be upfront about it.”
To get you thinking about your son’s strengths, as well the areas in which he could improve, admissions counselors might ask questions like:
- How would one of your son’s friends describe him as a playmate?
- How would one of his preschool teachers describe him?
- How does your son fit as a member of a class?
3. How will you partner with the school?
When a private pre-K program admits your son, it is also entering into a—potentially very long-term—relationship with your family. During your campus tour and interview, admissions staff will ask questions that seek to reveal what you and your spouse will be like as “partners” in raising and educating your son.
For example, Margaret suggests, “If you hear something that happened at school that concerns you, how are you going to approach that with the teacher?”
Again here, there are no right and wrong answers. Admissions officers are simply trying to determine if your family and their school are a good fit.
“At The Fessenden school, we believe it’s so important to a child’s development to have their parents be a part of their school community,” Margaret says. “So we’re trying to understand what that will look like from our side.”
Prepare for your campus tour.
If you’re about to visit some private pre-kindergarten programs, start getting your thoughts together with this free Pre-K & Kindergarten Private School Visit Checklist. It includes the 14 most important questions to ask to find the best fit for your child.
If you have any questions right now, feel free to leave them in the comments section below.