Tuesday, March 5, 2013

T Minus 10 Days

SFUSD Round I placement offers are mailed on March 15... ten days from today.  They arrive on Saturday and freaked out parents rush home from swim lessons, grocery shopping or a walk to the park with fear and excitement to check the mail.

As I walked back my house a few years ago, there it was.  The mail had arrived and there was the letter from SFUSD.  I grabbed it, rushed upstairs and opened it privately.  We got our third choice school.  I cried.  Yes - I was supposed to be happy, but I cried because I had imagined what life would be like if we got school #1.  I tried to be happy and relieved.  So many other people didn't get anything, nothing, nada, zip.  And here I was crying over getting my third choice.  I spent the rest of the weekend checking-in with friends, neighbors and the preschool community.  I checked K Files blog constantly.

As the weeks went by I became more comfortable with the assignment.  As the years went by I realized how lucky we were to receive our 3rd choice assignment.  But I won't lie, the first couple of nights, in the beginning, I would wake up in the middle of the night and remember my "dream school" and I would feel so sad.

It's hard not to idealize life at one school.  Part of having a choice system leads people to feel like they "lost" even when they get a spot at a great school.

I am here to say that believe me, the grass is always greener.  As you spend year 1, year 2 at your school and check-in with friends at other schools, you realize that none of the schools are perfect.  My friends at my "dream" school?  They are bummed they missed out on immersion.  They complain about the early start time.  Friends with very active PTAs complain about the drama.  Friends at their "dream" private complain about tuition and commute.

Parents of Kinders-to-be, hang in there.  It will all work out and there are a heck of a lot of great choices.  Veterans - Share your stories

And if you are in Bernal, there is a bar [Lucky Horseshoe] has created SFUS-D-Day and special drinks just for you 

Good luck!

34 comments:

  1. Thank you for this.

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  2. Parent of a kinder-to-be here, and anxious as hell. Thank you for sharing your experience. I absolutely agree that there are no perfect schools out there. We are only looking at privates and our friends who already have older kids at several of the "top" privates on our list all say the same thing, that they love their school but they wish it had more of this, or was more like that. Still, like you OP, we kind of have our hearts set on a school and one can't help but start thinking about how life will be like come fall if we do get in, and how exciting it will be to be a part of this school community that we loved getting to know during the application process. I'm so so so hoping it will work out for us, but also know that the other schools we applied to are amazing as well and we will probably feel like you did, and get comfortable and then excited and happy at wherever we end up. Ahhh just wish this waiting period wasn't so long, I really want to know right now!

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  3. This post was so welcome because dear God this process sucks ... you're made to feel so anxious ... there is no perfect information ... and at the end of the day anything related to your child makes you feel so vulnerable.

    For perspective, my mother reminded me of the day my child was born (very difficult and complicated birth and with a long stay in NICU). Since then my kid has blossomed into a great and healthy child whose smile lights up my world. This process is difficult but it's not that important in the end. We will roll with the punches and make whatever school we land at our own, and the best possible experience for our kid.

    Best of luck to all parents and kids!

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  4. Well do I remember ripping open waitlist letter after waitlist letter and the one acceptance without enough financial aid, and weeping hysterically. It all worked out. But I think I aged 10 years.

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  5. Thank you for this! Despite how tiring the whole touring and application process was (we applied to publics and privates, and toured approximately 10 schools in all), I somehow find this waiting process even more stressful! Can't believe we'll finally get the results next week. Despite spending A LOT of time looking at each of these schools, getting to know the parent communities, and trying as hard as we can to envision our kids at the school, we also know that each school will have its pros and cons. It is very helpful to hear that it all works out in the end though!

    Just out of curiosity, what were everyone's top choices?

    My top 5 of each category, in order of preference:

    Public: Alice Fong Yu, Clarendon, Rooftop, Alamo, Claire Lillienthal
    Private: SF Day, MCDS, Hamlin, Burke's, Convent

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  6. Somewhat unrelated but wondering if anyone here knows: on theschoolboards.com a poster mentioned something about summer orientation for some privates. Has anyone heard of this? When are they? Trying to plan summer camps and some travel back to see family and don't want to miss out if there is some kind of orientation camp.

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  7. Well said. The system of lots of choice, but very limited access is crazy making. We went throught this a couple years ago. We applied to five private schools and listed fifteen publics plus Creative Arts Charter. We got one private school yes, with a very tiny financial aid offer, three waitlists and one strait "NO". We got our 7th choice public, Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy and Creative Arts Charter. We chose HMCRA over CAC, b/c it was closer and we were concerned about the impact of construction at CAC.
    We chose not to go into additional rounds of the lottery, b/c we knew a lot of people going to HMCRA, we liked the late start time and ability to walk to school. It turns out that we have been mostly happy at this very small (2 K classes), warm school. We have had painful transitions of Principal and conflict around that which has been a drag. However, I think this can happen anywhere, and as long as I am experiencing loving, engaged teachers and a great parent community, we are staying.

    When families leave, it always sends me back into anxiety about is there something better. However, I don't think this wondering is especially helpful to my kid or our school.

    Good luck to everyone.

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  8. And those of us who have applied for both public and private independents potentially have 2 suspenseful days waiting by the mailbox, since I believe the independents mail their letters on March 14. I am scaring myself with the thought of finding out on Friday that we are waitlisted or flat out rejected from the private independents, then having to wait until Saturday to see how we fared with SFUSD... I'll be glad when this is all over, one way or another. Good luck to all, and looking forward to hearing from everyone next week where they've ended up.

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    1. Last year, our private and public letters all arrived together on the Friday.

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  9. Do any independents send out emails or phone calls? Do I really have to wait by the mailbox! Say it isn't so in 2013!

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    1. I haven't heard of any independents sending out emails or phone calls; I believe they have some sort of agreement with each other to send their notices on the same date and not to contact families during the week after, when you're supposed to be mulling over your decision. Our preschool director told us that he sometimes get a heads-up the day before/day of from certain schools if a child has been accepted, though I didn't ask which schools.

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  10. Last time we went through this, some of the independents posted online acceptances by a certain date. So on the big day, you could check that way. I know Friends did it this way.

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    1. Yes, Friends posts decisions on the secure website (that, if you applied, you used to register for their various events).

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  11. Next week is just the first round of stress relief for my family. Since we've got twins and chose to keep them unlinked, the second round will be trying to make sure that both kids are in the same school, based on whoever ends up with the "better" assignment. That SFUS-Dday happy hour sounds like a good plan.

    Best of luck everyone - really appreciate everyone's input through this process...and going to try not to be upset if the neighbor who didn't visit any schools and only put 3 schools on his list gets his #1 choice....GRRRR..

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  12. Twin parent it will be fine. I have twins too. We ended up at our sixth choice school. They were linked together. And even though it wasn't what we thought we wanted, it turned out great. Far better than we'd expected. Very few people who put down only a few schools get them, that is, if they're highly,highly desirable schools, and now, if there's no neighborhood link. Many of those folks don't really want to go public anyway, and putting down a few allows them to feel as if they tried in some way.

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  13. Yes the grass is always greener. Lakeshore has just "lost" its principal with hopes that a new principal will bring greener grass, higher test scores, more parent involvement, increased enrollment - the list goes on. Too bad. It was a good school if only people could have embraced the changing demographic and used their energy in positive ways.

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  14. I'm more nervous about this than I was applying to college or grad school . . . can't wait for this anxiety to blow over! Good luck everyone!

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  15. One more week...
    sigh.

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  16. ugh ugh ugh. just tell us already private schools!

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  17. When my kid was participating in the play date at CDS, prospective parents gathered for a panel q&a with CDS Parents and the Head of School. One parent of an eighth grader commented on how fascinating it is to watch her son and his friends be going through the high school selection process. She commented how interesting it was to see some kids gravitate toward schools that were very different
    than CDS while her son wanted the school that was like the "CDS" for High School. I raised my hand and asked if she would say what the high school that she thought was very similar to CDS was. The Head of School intervened and prevented her from answering.

    So obviously, this was not a good move on my part as an applicant. However, I still wonder about why she felt such a strong need to shut that down?

    Of course I can imagine that she is protective about her school's unique image...but I don't feel I fully understand my faux pas.

    At a GLBT mixer for prospective parents, my partner and I milled around independently. When we compared notes later, we had each had 2-3 parents volunteer how not elite CDS is. We thought this was striking, since neither of us had asked this question specifically. We wondered did we seem particularly "not elite" ourselves? Or had we experienced a central identity of the school community ("We are really not elite like those other schools, really!)

    Anyway, I'd love to hear perspectives on this, and frankly almost anything personal and specific to this applying/waiting/wishing process, as I am feeling a bit obsessed and I know I'm not alone.



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    1. Of course a school like that is elite/elitist. Look at the student body,the cost of tuition, and one's reason for choosing it. It's a bit disingenuous to say you're not elite when that is part of the attraction of the school. Why you are choosing that educational path or that particular school if there isn't something that sets it apart in your mind? It's self selection and insulation and I don't get why some people don't want to admit that they have an "elite" preference and options that the majority of people don't have. It just is a fact of what it actually is, whether good or bad.

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  18. The poor word elite. It used to mean something, but not has been abused of its meaning. Elite is this context means not down to earth. So the CDS parents were basically saying, hey, we are down to earth, while subtly putting down other schools not so down to earth, which doesn't seem all that down to earth once you think about it. It can also mean non-Eastern(US)/traditional, where elite is still OK to use as a word.

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  19. It's rather odd, though, isn't it. "Not elitist" would make sense. But of course you are an elite if you are part of a group of families hand-picked by and for the school.

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  20. Hi all, I am a teacher in SFUSD. I was notified by an admin last week that letters will likely be mailed a few days late this year.

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  21. late? what?! what's the reason?

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  22. I find this very hard to believe and can't help but thinking its some weird hoax. There is nothing on the sfsud site, none of my sfsud teacher friends have heard of this and the woman I just emailed at parents for publics schools said it sounded like a "joke".

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  23. Our first choice independent school sent us a few emails a week ago following up about some of our financial aid documentation. My husband and I are wondering, is this a good sign? Are they trying to figure out the amount of financial aid we will be offered? OR, did we just screw up our financial aid documentation more than other families and they make sure to have all the information for all applicants? - a parent trying to read into things too much because it's only thing i can do other than just wait :)

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  24. Last year ours got lost in the mail. I almost freaked out waiting an extra few days

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    1. I wonder if you can call the school directly and ask whether you got in or not if your notice doesn't show up as scheduled in the mail?

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    2. I read on a recent Parents for Public Schools email that you can go to the EPC on Wed, March 20th if you don't receive the letter before then. Not sure if they'll give that kind of information over the phone...

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  25. T minus 2 days now ... can't believe the initial letters/placements will arrive soon ... not sure what to do if I get none of my public options or all wait list/rejections from private. Does that happen a lot?

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    1. Yes, it does happen. Depends on how many publics you listed, as to whether you will get any of them. And it's very possible to get no accepts from privates. Then you hope to get off a wait list and apply for round 2.

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    2. How many schools did you list?

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  26. I listed 20 publics and applied to 3 privates.

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