At My Learning Springboard, we believe that admissions consulting and school planning is a complex and highly reflective practice designed to help children and families find schools and learning communities in which they’ll thrive as well as optimize their experience within any school or program. To this end, we help families navigate myriad school-related decisions every year.
When it comes to making school transitions, families pursue our support with admissions consulting for many different reasons — voluntary and involuntary. Common reasons include:
- Their child is ready to start preschool or kindergarten.
- Their child is at the edge of a birthday cutoff that creates some decision-making.
- Their child attends a school that ends after 5th, 8th, or 9th grade.
- Their child has simply outgrown a school setting and prefers to pursue other options.
- Their child needs a school placement due to the family’s relocation or the family’s interest in pursuing a US boarding school or college.
- Their child’s school has initiated a counseling out process.
- Their child needs a specialized school program to address learning challenges.
- Their child needs a therapeutic school program to address emotional challenges and, possibly, learning challenges, too.
- Their child is ready for college planning, or alternative programming, such as a gap year or post-graduate high school experience.
- Their young adult needs supportive programming, such as a therapeutic wilderness program or a therapeutic college program.
Our ultimate goal with admissions consulting and school planning is to help identify and facilitate excellent and appropriate opportunities for each child or young adult by closely partnering with and advocating for our families. Together we put on our “future glasses” and imagine the feelings, accomplishments, and community that will be experienced at each of the schools or programs we explore.
The best educational consultants and school planners have deep knowledge of schools and programs, which extends far beyond the facilities, statistics, and exmissions detail. It means having a deep understanding of the curriculum and programmatic choices; being informed about the level of academic rigor relative to other schools and programs; knowing the communication and planning approaches; being familiar with the available support and advisory services; and appreciating the unique community and vibe of each school. This deep knowledge is achieved by repeatedly visiting and observing classes at a wide range of schools and colleges, developing relationships with faculty and school leadership, and regularly reviewing class work, teacher feedback, and school documentation across grade levels, school divisions, and over time. Successful admissions consulting also requires a flexible yet streamlined process, managed by educational experts with outstanding project management skills, integrity and efficacy. For all of these reasons, we’ve found that we are best able to serve families with our team approach, which includes two Board Certified Educational Planners and Learning Specialists as well as a retired School Principal and Reading Specialist.
A huge part of our successful team effort is having open and honest communication with our families. In order to select a school environment in which a student will ultimately thrive, we need to talk openly and honestly with parents and students about their desires and needs. For example, if specialized instruction or accommodations are needed, we need to be able to discuss this up front, and consequently, we will need to openly share this information with schools. Schools want to be successful, which means accepting the students they know they can serve well. We must be able to talk honestly about the academic rigor and expectations of each school as well as the available supports. Though a student may have the transcript, test scores, and application package to “get in,” that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best long-term fit for that student. Through ongoing discussion and debriefing after school tours and interviews, we arrive at an informed, prioritized list of schools or programs that reflect both the student’s and parents’ feedback as well as other key stakeholders who may be involved, such as a psychologist.
When planning for a transition of any kind, it’s imperative to start early. Ideally planning should start well in advance, so that a 4th grade family is planning for a 6th grade transition; a 7th grade family is planning for a 9th grade transition; and a 10th grade family is planning for the transition to college. We typically start Kindergarten Readiness the spring before the application season. Whether the student is applying to kindergarten or college, we begin with a family meeting to discuss hopes, expectations, questions, and timing. This approach allows for a slow and steady preparation process, which is the best way to create the most options. It’s easy to get caught up in the minutiae, frustration, or anxiety surrounding admissions. At My Learning Springboard, we choose to reframe the “task” as an opportunity, one that has the potential to provide invaluable growth for the student, as well as for the family as a whole.
Please contact us to discuss admissions consulting and school planning for your family in more detail. We provide hourly or comprehensive consultation for families applying to preschool through high school as well as college and graduate school counseling, gap year planning, and supportive pathways for young adults. Our expertise spans day schools and boarding schools, including mainstream, specialized, and therapeutic school settings. We look forward to partnering with you and your family as you navigate an upcoming school transition or seek to optimize your child’s experience within a school or program.By Brad Hoffman, M.S.Ed.
Board Certified Educational Planner and Learning Specialist
My Learning Springboard, Inc.