I thought writing here would help me organize my thoughts, and it has, but it has also caused me to obsess about this process….every day. I know, get a life! Well, my obsessing has led to a plan, and here it is:
1) Make a list of what’s important in a school (e.g., close to home, start time, before/after school program, etc.), and rank order the list.
2) Don’t tour a million schools. It won’t be the best use of time/energy. Instead, tour a handful of decent or up-and-coming schools considered 2nd or 3rd tier that meet my top three needs. Tour only one or two big buzz schools just to see what the hub bub is all about. During the tours, ask good questions. There’s a great thread posted last year called "Tips for tour guides" – read it to make the most out of a school tour.
3) Determine comfort level with risk. This is where I really need to be honest with myself and will probably lead to my changing my original list of schools to tour.
If my tolerance for risk is LOW, do NOT put any big buzz schools on the list of seven on my application, but DO put all schools considered 2nd or 3rd tier (ones I’d be willing to live with of course) and/or schools where I would be contributing to the diversity. Hopefully, if I’ve done my research right, and the moon and stars align perfectly, a true low risk plan will yield the highest chances of getting one of my seven (no guarantees of course).
If my tolerance for risk is MEDIUM, do NOT put any big buzz schools at the top of the list of seven, but DO put schools considered 2nd or 3rd tier (again, ones I’d be willing to live with) towards the top (1-3). Then fill the rest of the list (4-7) with big buzz schools that I’ll never get (but if I do, great) so that if I go 0/7 both rounds, I’ll be towards the top of the wait list for a school (or at least not at the bottom).
If my tolerance for risk is HIGH, and I fall in love with only one school, put it #1, fill the rest of the slots with big buzz schools, expect to go 0/7 both rounds, and sweat it out on a wait list.
4) Have a back-up plan. This seems to mean: private/parochial (and that’s not easy or guaranteed either), move (not an option we’re willing to consider), home school (I admire people who can do this, but it’s not for us), or…..geez, what else is there?
5) Try not to complain about the process. This one is difficult because it seems so complicated, and right when I think I understand it, someone says something, and I go back to not understanding it again. It is what it is. DO, however, get the FACTS about the application process by reading the SFUSD Enrollment Guide. I don’t think the 2010-11 one is out yet, but I’ve read last year’s , and my guess is the info about the process will be about the same.
Is this a good plan? Who knows – I’m just a newbie, but it’s the plan I have right now that helps me sleep at night.