Thursday, April 4, 2013

Dear Admission Director:

Hi. You might remember me from the school tour or the two open houses we attended? Or, you might remember us from parent social, Q & A panel at school or our interview (which you were 35 minutes late to)? Maybe you even remember us from our daughter’s play date or perhaps our application and essays ring a bell? I am hoping that you do remember us from at least one of the seven events we attended to learn about your school.

You were so nice and welcoming at the time. I guess that’s your job – a sort of sales person, per se.  Gosh, you even sent us a holiday card and a thank you card. I was beginning to feel like this was the start of something beautiful. I sent you emails, you responded. I left you messages, you called us back.

Everything was going so great until March 15, 2013 when you broke up with me and didn’t even have the decency to call? Sure, you sent a letter which is a bit more personal than an email but you spelled my daughter’s name wrong (maybe we actually don’t want this school)? No biggie given that you referred referred to my friend's son as a "her" in their break-up letter. You even had someone else do your dirty work – our letter from you came from the head of school. I like so remember having my friend break up with someone for me in fourth grade! In all seriousness, she did at least leave us a hand written love note saying how sad she was that you didn’t have room for us.

I called and emailed you right away. No response.  I left another message and sent another email – still nothing. Finally, on Monday you respond telling me “please don’t freak out. It’s not over”. Oh THANK GOODNESS – please tease me, let me cling onto something! It’s in this email I find out you have six (girl) spots and you have accepted ten girls so you need four to decline before going to your waitlist. Your friend down the way tells me she has 12 girl spots and had accepted 19 so she needs seven to decline before going to the waitlist.

Since we are talking about waitlists, why do you torture me with false hope? I have an idea - Why don’t you reject everyone with the exception of the very few who are truly waitlisted? By doing this it might hurt those so much less who actually got an rejection? And, for those that got a true waitlist, they will have an idea as to where they stand. Ohhhh, but that would be too transparent and we can’t have any of that can we??

Transparency. I have used this word about times since we broke up.  I know now that you were cheating on me with about 220 (200-250) other families for six spots? Of course I didn’t know about this at the time; maybe I wouldn’t have fallen so in love with you if you were honest. Your other friend down the way told me their numbers within five minutes of meeting us. I still love them.  That’s a nice little chunk of change you made ($20,000ish) from all of us vying for your love.

I still can’t get over you. I called hoping to get a better understanding of why you broke up with us. I have no choice but to accept your decision but please remember, I have feelings.   Your response, “I’m sorry but as a general rule I don’t meet with families that did not get in. I am sure you can understanding how time consuming this would be if every family wanted to meet”.  WOW – I am wondering if that would be more time consuming than the time we spent falling in love with you?

Like all relationships there is something to be learned here, on both sides.  I wish you the best.
I hope that none of my friends want to date you in the future.
Onward,
111=3
 

286 comments:

  1. OMG. You won't name the school, will you? So sorry you went through that.

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  2. You're taking this way too personally. If there are only 6 spots and over 200 applicants, most of you will be waitlisted. Do the majority of private school applicants not get in? Would be curious on the actual percentage who get in and what happens to those who don't get a spot? Settle for public school and keep trying?

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  3. So, yes, clearly I am taking this was too personally - I get that and I need to move one. Was hoping to get this out of my system by writing about it.

    re: "settling" for public school. I definitely dont see it as settling and we already have our application in for round two!

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    1. Thank you for not "settling" for public school. I have a 2nd grader at an SFUSD school and the education she is receiving is so excellent that we wouldn't switch to private at this point even if they waived all fees.

      I wish you luck in Round 2!

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  4. We like you 1+1+1=3!!'

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    1. We like you, too! And we're right there with you on the jaded and bitter side with our lack of acceptance to privates and we just turned in our round 2 lottery ticket to the SFUSD today.

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  5. Sorry to hear about your situation. Given that there are about 7-10 applicants for each opening. The odds are stacked against you. Doesn't make it less painful as we put a lot of emotion and effort into the app process. It is not the end of the world. Focus on the current task at hand... Getting into rd 2 for publics.

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  6. I luv the piece. This search process was so intense, time consuming and emotional. I so know which school you are talking about, but not the friend down the way. I think this would help families who will apply in coming years. Best of luck!

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  7. You NAILED it ... that perfectly described the experience. To anyone who says "don't take it personally." They obviously haven't gone thru the process. It is personal. The essays, the cost to hire the babysitter, spending time touring instead of doing what you need to get done.

    I wish the AD had to do some follow-up. Maybe they would really understand why they made their choices.

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    1. This! Still steaming...

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  8. P.S. Your forthcoming (transparent) friend down the way even emailed us a survey after we had broken up asking for feedback and ways to improve their entire process.

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  9. I could have written this word for word but with more anger. And yes, I am jaded.

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    1. notice that it took me three weeks to get this posted. I had written many, many variations of this post with many levels of anger and sadness.

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  10. I wish I were as eloquent as you. This is totally what I want to write too, but to a boys school. I just wish there was more transparency. We were outright rejected with no note, nothing, and have no idea what went wrong! Just want some closure so yes would be great if the ADs had to do some sort of follow up. So curious which school sent a survey asking for feedback, that is brilliant and reflects so wonderfully on the school.

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  11. This has to be Live Oak, right? We had the same experience down o the Head instead of the AD sign the letter with the note.

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    1. and, Friends is the transparent school. Such similar experiences!!!

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    2. I know having applied to both Live Oak and Friends that they had very limited spaces for girls this year. That is just the way it goes; it's something we can't control when there are incoming siblings that fills spaces and/or more applicants of a particular sex.

      I had a completely different reaction than 1+1+1=3 to the waitlist letters that we got from Live Oak and Friends. I actually thought it was nice that the letter from Live Oak came from their head of school. She was an integral part of the process we went through, getting to know the school. I don't think having the letter come from her reflects anything different than had it been sent by their AD.

      I guess my experience was different, too, because I did call Live Oak and get Tracey (the AD) on the phone. I told her we were disappointed but we were fortunate to have 3 other offers, so to remove us from her wait pool. We had a really nice conversation.

      Tracey (AD at Live Oak) and Yvette (AD at Friends) do talk to each other (as do all the AD's that are a part of the Bay Area Directors of Admissions), so maybe they will exchange ideas on ways to communicate with people.

      If you do get a survey to fill out, I recommend doing it as it is a good way to provide feedback. We have only received one and it was for a school we were accepted to but turned down -- SF Day. It was great to give them positive and constructive feedback.

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    3. God, seriously, did you suggest to Homa at SFDay that maybe parent interviews would be better spent with her not spending the entire time talking about her kids? And selling us on the school? We KNOW what SFDay is all about, it's why we want our daughter to attend the school. We left the interview feeling like she knew absolutely nothing about us or our kid. But on the flip side our interview at Hamlin lasted for more than an hour and it was a wonderful talk, personal and deep and we felt so happy when we left. And we were outright rejected from both schools! So who the hell knows anymore...

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    4. We had wonderful interviews with Homa at SFDS (lasted 45 minutes instead of the usual 20), and Lisa at Hamlin (only lasted 35 minutes which kind of freaked us out as we thought the previous interview had lasted longer.) No matter, we were accepted at both. We applied to many schools and on the whole felt like each interview was a similar mix of talking about the school and talking our our family/kids. It is after all a process of finding the right fit between the two, not an opportunity to sell the school to the parents or to sell the kid to the AD.

      I'm so sorry about your experience 1+1+1=3, you are right about how personal this experience has beeen. We had a great result and enrolled our child at our top choice school but I am still reeling from the experience! I wish you best of luck on on your second rounds.

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  12. Most of the five private schools that waitlisted our daughter were at least somewhat responsive, but one never responded to multiple calls despite our attending every event and receiving a 'stay in touch' note with the letter saying we were waitlisted. So certainly that experience was very much in line with the experience of 111=3.

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  13. the school with full transparency from the get-go is Synergy (they also sent the follow-up survey to get feedback on their admission process and what they could do to improve it)

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  14. You are being very naive, 1+1+1=3. A little digging and you would have known the desirable private schools are like their public school counterparts, that is, they're hard to get into. That's just the nature of the beast. Would you have preferred to have the school ignore you during the application process?

    You are acting cute with the teenage stuff, but you really are playing the part. Grow up!

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    1. Boy, I can't disagree more with you 9:57. So much time, energy and hope is spent on this process which directly affects our children. Let every parent mourn in their own way. This is truly a grieving process really for those who did not get into any of the schools they wanted. There's so little control over the outcome and such a feeling of helplessness.

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    2. I disagree as well. I took it as less about getting the school but more about the ways things were handled. common decency.

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    3. When you apply for a job and don't get it do you demand transparency? Do you need them to tell you why you weren't hired? Do you need to know how many applicants there were? How many people were interviewed? I definitely agree that it would be nice to be given that feedback but to expect it in all cases seems a bit much. Do people really "mourn" not getting into a certain school?

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    4. 8:11 interesting question. I just went through a massive interview process and at the end was not given the job. the perspective employers brought me in and explained why I was not hired. I appreciated the feedback and helped closure for something that I worked at for many months.

      we went through this process two years ago and while mourn might not be the best word be were very sad to think someone did not want our children. I think feelings are heightened when it comes our children.

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    5. You were probably one of a small number of finalists, though. They didn't give the same feedback to everyone who submitted a resume or application for the job. So I don't think it's really a comparable situation.

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    6. This is exactly why we have public schools. Barring outright discrimination, private schools don't have to admit your children and they don't need a real reason either, no matter how good a candidate or fit you think your family are. SFUSD has to admit every child who applies. Whether you get the ideal school is up to luck and persistence, but at least you'll get one. For those so heartbroken over rejections and waitlists, rethink what exactly you're looking for because this process forces you to be flexible and rethink your assumptions about both yourself and schools in general.

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  15. Transparency! That is the key. We go to coffee's and interviews, write sweet notes and pay sizable deposits. We try to be noticed without being pushy. We are told there are no feeder preschools and that interviews are about "building a well rounded class" (not weeding out awkward parents). But, at the end of the process, do we find out how many spots there were to begin with? How many people applied for each seat? How much the school made on application fees, or from which preschools they were accepted? Nope, nada, not a word.

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    1. There's a reason they call them private schools. They're private. They have no obligation to divulge the kind of information you get from the public sector. What were you expecting? That a few phones calls and pleasantries would convince the headmaster to admit your child? Maybe your child didn't have the grades or the right color skin. Who knows what they're looking for? They certainly won't tell you. They want to keep the applicant pool as large and uniformed as possible. And they have succeeded, especially when it comes to being uniformed.

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    2. I think it is pretty unfair to paint every private school to be as non-transparent as the one described in the original post.

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  16. That is to say, "uninformed."

    I will add this, too. Grieving is one thing. Sticking it to the school for no good reason is small.

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    1. But she didn't stick it to the school. She didn't name the school. And I think there is an excellent reason to feel aggrieved - parents spend an enormous amount of time on this process. How annoying to find out - after the fact (and after the school had happily taken the application fee) - that over 200 people were chasing after 6 spots. How annoying that the school got the child's name wrong. How annoying that the AD feels it would be too time consuming for her to provide ANY feedback to this family when this family has spent so much time attending events at the school.

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    2. Application fees generate money so they want as many applicants as they can handle, so they won't tell you upfront the minimal amount of openings. A lot of this whole process is about money, how much you can pay, how much you can receive in financial aid and how much you are worth. Both parties are making sales pitches.

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    3. I don't know about the rest of you, but our preschool director knew exactly how many spots were open at every private school in the City and shared that information with those of us who asked. The preschool directors in the City go to funtions with the ADs of these schools and get information, tours and other background information to help guide their own preK programs. And these are not 'feeder' schools I'm talking about, we belong to a co-op. If your preschool director did not have this information they either are missing the boat or keeping something from you. Also, every tour I attended the AD was pretty open about spots. I'm not sure why this is such a mystery.

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    4. Agreed! We knew exactly how many open spots were at each school we applied to because we asked. The odds are obviously stacked against you because the % that get in is so small at each school. I don't think anyone really went into this process expecting it to be easy.

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  17. I had this experience a few years ago with Cathedral. So polite, friendly, and responsive up until the letters went out. We were waitlisted, we called and sent an email or two to the AD and got no response. Nothing. It felt really... cold. Especially because our prior experience had not been that way. My husband made the observation that an automated response to our email would have been better than the void we encountered, and it would've taken very little effort. Frankly, being ignored is worse than being rejected. Just a really odd experience that really soured me on that school. But we got into another private school and life went on.

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    1. Everyone has the same experience at Cathedral. It was interesting that Cathedral never told people that they would send out two responses - "waitlist" and a "high waitlist". We were on the "waitlist" and never the time of day from Cathy. Our friends got on the "high waitlist" and got interaction from Cathy. They didn't get in. It just seemed so 2 faced. At least Lynn from Town doesn't pretend to be interested in getting to know you or your child.

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    2. Haha, you are so right about Lynn from Town. She even kept us waiting for a half hour before our parent interview and gave no apology or acknowledgment about that.

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    3. I would like to add that we were waitlisted at Friends, too, and Yvette was very responsive and helpful after the letters went out. I just don't accept those on this thread that think that being responsive is not possible. How hard is it to have a standard email response ready in those situations?

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  18. Well written piece -- thank you 1+1+1=3.
    We are oh so thrilled with our (first-come, first-serve) public Charter - now-Kinder son getting a wonderful, dual-immersion education sans fees.
    Best of luck to you in the process!

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  19. If you are going to fault the school for failure to be forthcoming and transparent, why write a critique of these practices and fail to be forthcoming yourself? Tell us the name of the school so that we may avoid the very upset you have so painfully endured.

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    1. I wouldn't name the school because this is just the bloggers opinion and feelings. Someone has had a similar experience with any numbers of schools. I bet the people admitted to the exact same school had a very positive experience.
      Once a class has been formed, AD probably have a lot of other business on their lists to take care of and want to move on. The focus switches to welcoming those actually enrolling and planning for the new school year.

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  20. I know how frustrating the private school process is, but I have to take issue with two of the points here. First, the school isn't "making money" on application fees. They have 1-2 staff dedicated to the admissions process, who get paid salaries and benefits. Application fees cover some (but nowhere near all) of the cost of staffing the admissions function. I pay taxes in SF and I send my kids to private school - do I complain about SFUSD "making money" off me? No. If you applied to private school, you are using a service of that school, and paying part of the cost of it with the application fee.

    Second, as to feedback. I might be off base but it seems like there's at least some desire here for personal feedback about the individual child and why they weren't accepted. For the vast majority of the 200+ kids who didn't get in, there's no more to say than "we had more kids who fit your child's age/sex/family profile than we could take." There's not that much insight to provide. In terms of more geenral feedback however, I couldn't agree more thatit's unprofessional not to be responsive to emails and phone calls, and something like the survey demonstrates real consideration.

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  21. While we are on the subject of transparency and being responsive to emails, I believe SFUSD also deserves some criticism in these areas.

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  22. If the school district sends you an assignment you don't want, do you expect them to call and speak with you personally? This private school has more things on its plate than to spend its time messaging your delicate ego. I would be great if they called all 250 applicants back. Do you seriously think that is going to happen? Try getting a call back from the Educational Placement Center at SFUSD. They're the ones using your tax dollars. As a previous poster said, the $100 you spent is not going to cover the costs of reviewing every application and it sure isn't going to pay to make 250 20 minute phone calls on top of that. Get real.

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    1. Not the OP, but I agree there are MANY major areas that SFUSD currently falls inexplicably and IMO inexcusably short on in their process.

      Some highlights of their lack of transparrency:

      1. They will not release the computer code for their lottery system, despite the fact that the results in recent years are not consistent with their stated algorithm.

      AFAIK it's never been independently audited or proved to actually implement the stated process.

      2. They won't tell you how many seats are open for each school / program, before you apply.

      3. They won't tell you how many seats are open at any point in the process e.g. unaccepted and hence open for Round Two.

      Similarly they won't publish online how long the waitpool is for the fall... the advice from PPS-SF published here is simply "go to EPC in person and nicely ask...". Wtf...

      4. They won't tell you, historically, what the pool of applicants for any program/school looked like, and how many winners won via each tie-breaker.

      Most opaque in that respect are language immersion programs which theoretically include district language tests as a factor. How , when, and if, your child's test results ever make a difference is completely unknown.

      Personal hobby horse: even in the data they HAVE released, there are unexplained discrepancies between their stated algorithm and the actual assignments offered to competitive program. QED they are using undisclosed criteria to award some seats (about 10% for the top 14 most requested programs in one recent year)... I find that unacceptable.


      Seriously though, speaking of tax dollars spent on EPC: It's not transparency, exactly, but the current technology employed throughout the application process is what, ten years out of date?

      It is inexplicable that we have to turn in paper forms, in person, and have no ability to retrieve results, track waitlists, etc. online... in SAN FRANCISCO, nominally the hottest tech city in the country. (Proof of residency should be presented in person, natch.)

      Readers of this blog will be aware of horror stories of mistakes introduced during 'data entry' as required by paper forms... Yet of course without any auditing of the process, there is no way to even tell, usually, when such occurs...



      A cynic might observe that you get the District you vote and pay for. Well, sort of, in both respects.

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    2. A little sidebar but I get really annoyed with people who go on about how their taxes are paying for the public school, whether or not they attend, therefore every person in the school district has to answer to said tax payer. What percentage of your taxes are actually going to the school? More of your money is going to prisons or subsidizing soy farmers so stop acting as though everyone in the district owes you something when you don't get the assignment you want. Yes transparency is good but that's because you don't have to wade through the weeds of bureaucracy. It's not like typing in info to Google and getting your answer right here, right now, because you deserve to know. At least we get to elect the school board and you can at least make those demands at public board meetings. How many people writing those big tuition checks actually approach their head of school or board making similar demands. Not many, even though you are directly paying for it.

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    3. I'm sure very few people are expecting a 20-minute phone call. In fact, I don't even want feedback about my child (I'm not that insecure). But just brief response to a phone call or an email would be nice. It's sad that your standards are so low that you're defending rudeness.

      Yes, to ask people to jump through hoops for months and then fail to jump through one extremely easy one yourself is rude, in my opinion. And lazy. The SFUSD process, where there isn't the same personal contact involved, is not the same.

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  23. 1 + 1 + 1, thank you for sharing this post! I think a lot of parents are feeling the same way and it's good to hear all this on the blog. I also think you should name the schools. These are private schools and I feel the rules are different than talking smack about public schools. (And maybe it's not talking smack, but giving constructive criticism.) If folks are basically shopping for schools, they deserve to know what they are getting into. Once X school starts getting a reputation of not being responsive/transparent, maybe they'll have to change things up a bit. They'll have to address their practices once parents ask them about it at info sessions. If we don't talk about these schools openly, then they can go about being unresponsive without any accountability. I know you'll get S&*! for naming the schools, but if folks don't know about or talk about it nothing is going to change.

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  24. I love how people think it is unreasonable to expect any type of personal response. Really? Is this what society has come to? If I can write 250 individual, heartfelt thank you's for wedding gifts, a scho can take the time to respond to parents with a quick email or note. This is a very emotional process for parents because it involves our children and people DO take it personally. And it's not about massaging anyone's ego; it's about decency. How we treat people who we stand to gain nothing from says volumes.

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    1. You guys are never going to survive MS/HS/college apps.

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    2. @10:58: Word.

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  25. We applied for privates, too. We received decision letters from the schools at the appointed time. End of story. What else is there to say?

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  26. some people have thicker skins and how can we fault the author for her feelings?

    I agree that a returned email/phone call is appropriate after expressing interest in a school for over seven months. I don't think its too much to ask.

    She brings up a good point about waitlists versus rejections.

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    1. I agree. I'm not sure why schools are so unwilling to just outright reject people if they absolutely have no chance.

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    2. It certainly sounds like a lot of the misery is caused by the use of 'waitlist' as a euphemism for rejected.

      If any ADs or prospective ADs are reading, that's your one take way:

      Brutal honesty is far the better policy here. The pain will be sharper but much much briefer.

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  27. Hi =3,

    You said there's something to be learned on both sides. What did you learn? And what can we learn without the name of the school? So what do you plan to do now?

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    1. People going through the process need to realize that the way an AD acts during the process is no indication of whether or not their child will be admitted to the school.

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    2. I'd also add that the way an AD acts AFTER the letters go out is a reflection on the school as well. Not that they have to accept everyone, of course. But they are the face of the school, and need to remember that as much after as before.

      An extremely poor experience with a school AD actually drastically changed our opinion of the school and they quickly fell from our first choice, and we chose not to attend.

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  28. The school is probably Live Oak, because all their waitlist letters are signed by the Head versus the AD. I toured Live Oak and found it "fake nice". I am surprised how many people (in the Southeast) apply. I think lots of middle and upper middle families get sucked in by their "fake nice" friendliness and so-called down to earthness, and apply because it doesn't feel as elite as the big privates. However, rest assured, Live Oak only wants to romance everyone to increase their overall applications pool (money for them,and a sign of prestige/desirability they can point to). The reality is that lots of families switch out of LO in middle school and their current facilities/capital campaign is causing them to seek out richer families who have the ability to fund the capital campaign over the next 3 years (at approx $15 K extra per year!). I'm really sorry 1+1=3 was duped by their insincere act. I'm also happy she named that it was Synergy (not Friends) that was a the transparent one. I saw no artifice in that school (Synergy). It is what Live Oak is pretending to be: genuine.

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    1. I thought the same thing. The LO AD seemed phony and cliquish.

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  29. THANK YOU 1113.

    Bottom is line is that rejection sucks. Thank you for sharing your honest feelings (fully knowing you would probably be attached by some).

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  30. To the person who said "You guys are never going to survive MS/HS/college apps."

    You sure got that right. Don't be so delicate. These issues of propriety that seem to eat away at some of you are nothing compared to the problems you will likely encounter with the quality and quantity of resources put into education at most public schools. Of course, if you do get into a private school you can work on the outreach ethics with them and you won't have to worry about any of the problems us peons have to deal with in public school.

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  31. Why all the hate? We are all parents trying to make the best decisions we can for our kids. Public, private, charter, homeschool, etc. There is no ONE way. But attacking each other for different choices, or reactions helps no one. Let's support each other through this process and relax a bit on the venom.

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  32. Private schools are exclusive. It's just a fact. It sucks to feel excluded but it's going to happen to most private school applicants. Try not to take it personally and know that it is your most likely scenario when you apply. I suppose publics can feel exclusive too for those that don't get an assignment that they are happy with. But with the publics you are at the mercy of a computer lottery. Also extremely frustrating, but much less personal.

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  33. To put this "trauma" in perspective, a year ago my child was accepted to the three top high schools in the City. No easy feat. He ended up at public school because, as I had to explain to him, we didn't get any financial aid and we couldn't afford to spend, in effect, $40K for 4 years. So don't get too worked up because you didn't get the personal contact you wished for. It's not a big deal.

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  34. That is to say $160K.

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  35. I understand you are upset but I think time will give you perspective. The ADs have a tough job and realize that they are not the sole decison makers in the process and they cannot control the number of spots, the number of Board Member's who have nieces applying, etc. I do agree that it would help to manage expectation if they disclosed the number of anticipated spots for each boy and girl. I greatly appreciated a school we applied to telling us they had maybe one spot after sibs. We did not apply.

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  36. Wow! As someone who has endured the admissions process at private, public and charter schools for pre-K, elementary, middle and high schools (on to college apps next year) and having received the full range of outcomes, from acceptance w/significant financial aid to flat out rejection, I just gotta say: you people better learn to pace yourselves! If getting wait listed at a KINDERGARTEN is this devastating, then you're facing a whole world of hurt as your children grow up and experience the normal range of disappointment. And frankly, dealing well with disappointment is part of developing resiliency and maturity, so let's hope they are exposed to a healthy amount of it and have good role models for how to cope with it.

    --Admissions Directors are not your new BFFs. They are trying to sell you a product.
    --Even though your child is wonderful, there is not enough capacity at the most highly desired schools for all of the wonderful children in SF. Your odds going in of being offered a spot are very small, a fact that is abundantly, transparently clear at all junctures in the process.
    --Rejection at one of these selective institutions is not a value judgment on your child. Admissions criteria is often capricious, random and unfair.
    --Elementary school placement will have no significant impact on the long term success and happiness of your child. She has not been cheated out of the one possible trajectory catapulting her to the destiny that she deserves.

    I can certainly understand disappointment. But, grief, mourning, betrayal? I can't decide whether y'all have especially tender hearts, or if it's that you have larger than average regard for the exceptionalism of your children.

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    1. I think it might be easy to say this now that you have been doing this for different schools and gone through more disappointment. But for us new(er) parents, this is the first time we are going through this so it feels like a big big deal. I think it's fair to mourn a dream that you have been building for so many months and isn't going to happen anymore. One spends so much time courting these desired schools and naturally start having some top choices and then imagining how life will be like being part of these school communities, not just for the child but for the whole family for the next 9 years. So when that doesn't happen I think it's justified to mourn a little.

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    2. well said! totally agree with you 6:07

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    3. I think this is also fair. It is heartbreaking to hear that first big no after a process that does feel extremely personal and also feels like an evaluation of not only your child, but your family (and may also feel like a value assessment of your work choices, your financial position, your marital choice, etc. ) But what the poster at 3:56 says is also true. There are lots of disappointments (and of course joys) coming down the road.

      Also as one who now has older kids, what amazes me most is how incredibly different kids can be only a few years past the age of 4 or 5 when they might first get evaluated. It seems almost comical that an AD could even have remotely enough information to get any real sense about a child. They change in ways you can't even imagine, even over the course of half a year. Also, you learn so much more about your own kid's specifics as they go. What you know about what could or will or might work for them educationally is so much more informed after a few years. You discover their learning, social, and emotional strengths and weaknesses. That's just not as clear earlier on. You have no idea yet if he or she will be a voracious reader or diffident. You don't know which kids they'll gravitate toward socially and how and if that affects them. You don't know who they're transformative teachers will be.

      And because you'll gain all this info in the years to come, you'll be so much more ready to help guide them. Your efforts will be far more informed. And you'll have a better sense of what you're looking for, and also of the reality that that thing you're looking for may actually be found in a wider array of place then you initially thought possible.

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    4. 8:24 you sound so insightful. I love when parents of older kids chime in with their wise perspectives. Can I ask if you got your first/top choices when you applied for your child for k? And if not, did you end up thinking the place your child was in actually worked as well as the one you had thought was the best fit? Or did you learn so much more about your child's learning style and emotional needs, and then transferred to another school that better fits his or her needs? I am hearing more and more parents tell me about their kids transferring in later grades when they know their child better, and I'm wondering how often that happens.

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    5. And, I'll point out, as painful as the rejection may seem now when your kid is 4 or 5, wait 'til MS and HS Admissions, when they are being evaluated on their academic records. Admissions decisions based on these "merits" feel far more personal than whatever mysterious benchmarks are being applied to a cohort of incoming Kindergartners, whose future abilities/strengths/challenges are largely unknowable.

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    6. Sure. We applied with twins, which made our choices a bit more complicated. Back then, there wasn't a neighborhood system. Also, I didn't fully understand that the sibling benefit would really work beyond the first round. I had fears (which I now think were unfounded and or at least uninformed, that we'd end up with twins in two different schools.) Anyway, our top choices were Alice Fong Yu, both Clarendon programs, the Korean program at Lilienthal, and Sherman. We got our seventh choice, which felt crushing (our last two choices were not at the time popular schools - more realistic ones), and it wasn't immersion, but turned out to be fine, and quite different than what we initially thought it to be. Also, the school changed a lot during the time we've been there. We were turned down from the three privates we applied to, which stung. Our younger child was also turned down by privates (we thought, again, probably wrongly) that he was too young and sheltered to navigate the kind of class his siblings had navigated, and at the beginning, for one of them, had not navigated well.) And I will tell you being turned down the second time felt even worse - more like a confirmation. So he ended up going to the same public as his siblings, and has thrived far beyond the scale the first two did, right from the get go. What we learned was this - it's really hard to know what the "best fit" is, and you're often wrong. It's also hugely dependent upon who his or her classmates happen to be. Being surrounded by wonderful families can suddenly top other priorities, because you begin to realize learning and living happens in school, but also way outside of school, and in the homes of people your children might come to know,

      Later, we began to think one of the older twins was not thriving as well, but less because of the school, than the dynamic with his twin. To thrive best, really separating them (as in schools) came to make sense, so now, next year, one of them is headed to a private (which we got in w/out much fanfare, and only applied to one) and the other two are staying in public. And stranger yet (to us) we came to realize that single sex might make the right sense, though until that point had never considered single sex schools, and had thought them too limited, too closed. Who knows, maybe they still are, but we see the experience of having both co-ed and single sex education (to say nothing of private and public) as complementary. Better, to experience more worlds than just one. Even as it may more logistically complicate our lives.

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    7. I agree. High school admissions is worse than kindergarten admissions because you're child is old enough to know what's at stake and in our case, how limited we were because of finances. He's in public school and doing well. Stay involved in your child's education no matter what school you end up, it WILL be fine.

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    8. 8:24 = thank you for sharing. after having just gone through the kinder process with our oldest I am still feeling a bit shell shocked. Thoughtful perspective from someone that has already been through the process is much appreciated.

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    9. I am happy I helped! (from 8:24)

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  37. Homa at SFDS was completely transparent from the get go with us. During our interview she explained exactly how many spots she had for girls and boys (and that it was ever so slightly more spots available for girls than boys). The interview was a bit brief (around 30 mins) but she asked us a lot about our child. SFFS was an 1.5 hour affair, with lots of engagement and active nodding from the head of lower school. That said, everyone I spoke to had an amazing interview with SFFS and that kind of leads everyone on. Also, we didn't get a straight answer on available spots until much later on from sFFS. Finally, at SFFS is that the AD didn't join all the parent interviews - the pool was split among four groups. I think it's better to be interviewed by the AD as they make the final decision.

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    1. we had a 20ish minute Yvette. she asked us NOTHING about our daughter but rather about our schooling and our parenting philosophies. it was so weird and off putting.

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    2. Agree, Friends was our only interview where they didn't ask us anything at all about our child. They seemed wholly focused on the pedigree of the parents and paid close attention to the schools we graduated from (she wrote down the names of our ivy league schools which felt a bit weird). We did get in but passed; not our scene. We accepted our offer at SF Day which felt the opposite: 100% focused on our child and she clearly had read and analyzed every word of our application. Finally, this is a personal impression only but Yvette didn't strike us as bright or present and came across as quite flaky. She's not the greatest representative for the school but people don't seem to care since they like how unpretentious the school is.

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    3. absolutely. Yvette barely looked up during our time together. she was busy writing every word down. when she asked my husband out his schooling he mentioned boarding school and she asked him for the name. he replied he didn't think the name mattered and she said "its helpful information for us". we got in as well (I went to a Friend's School back east) but said 'no thanks'. not our cup of tea.

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  38. So interesting that we all had such different experiences with the same ADs. We were also another family who had an interview with Homa where she spent the entire 30 minutes selling us the school? She basically just talked AT us. She was super nice and all but we had really wanted to talk about our child and family more to her and didn't feel like we had a chance to! Plus we already loved SF Day and didn't understand why she was trying so hard to tell us great things about it, we already knew!

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    1. Curious if you got into SF Day?

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    2. nope did not! but honestly don't think the interview has as much to do with decision as the teacher rec and student assessment. also of course if the candidate happens to fit the right birthday/gender they need to balance the class. homa had said for boys, they needed younger to balance the class, maybe there were more older sibling boys this year.

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    3. We had an interview where Homa really focused on our child although the interview was shorter than our other ones and we did get into SF Day. I didn't think the interview was such a big deal for their decision, I was told later it was much more based on how our child did in the assessment as they are an academic school and are looking for pre-academic skills and school readiness.

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    4. We had a longish interview with Homa (about 45 minutes) which wasn't as long as some other interviews though I heard some others only got 20 minutes with her. She asked us a lot of questions about our child and seemed to know her really well (her questions were very targeted and reflected our PD's evaluation, and she remembered many things from our essays). We were accepted too. So perhaps prior to the interview they already have a sense of whether the child would be a fit and spend more time on the children that they might accept?

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  39. I think this is a great thread for future applicants as it seems to give a little insight into the admission directors.

    we applied to six private schools and we were thoroughly impressed by Cameron at Marin Prep. she felt honest and was very responsive to our immediate and follow-up questions. She accomodated us when we wanted to come back for a second visit and our parent interview was a good hour.

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  40. marin prep is going to be get even better after jeff escabar from mcds becomes head. he was a great AD too for so many years at mcds.

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    1. Cameron at marin prep is awesome!

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  41. Agree we had a lovely interview at both MCDS and SFDS where they were very focused on learning about our child, but Friends and Live Oak seemed a bit more focused on the parent's professions and name-brand schools we went to. Tip for future applicants to Friends: if either of you are Quaker or went to a Friends school back east you are in. They are really scrambling to have some semblance of Quaker legacies and they are hard to find in SF! I went to Sidwell Friends in DC (not as famous then as it is now) and was admitted but chose another school instead ultimately.

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    1. This didn't work for our friend who went to a Friends school all the way from K-12 on the East Coast. She was shocked to be turned down, but did get her daughter into SFDS. This was five years ago though, so maybe things have changed.

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  42. In case anyone is reading this for next year K admissions, here is our parting advice (we went 4/5 on privates):
    Live Oak - they are looking for wealth right now and are behind on capital campaigns and annual fundraising, they are looking for families who can pay extra so don't be shy if you can! We had a good friend who attends tell us this but honestly it was our last choice as the academics were not clearly strong.
    Hamlin, SFDS and MCDS - To be honest, you need to have very smart kid (a bit older doesn't hurt) who tests well and is well behaved. They are extremely focused on academic ability. MCDS cares more about connections/first choice letters than SFDS or Hamlin.
    Burkes - were waitlisted, so no success story there to report.

    I didn't apply to Friends ultimately but was given advice that a first choice letter was essential as they traditionally have fewer people accept spots than other big privates. Again, wasn't loving the academics and wasn't prepared to write a fake 1st choice letter just to get in.

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    1. Where did you end up?

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    2. Guessing MCDS.....

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    3. 10:38 here, we enrolled ultimately in SFDS. We loved MCDS too, but in the end realized that SFDS's location would be more convenient over 9 years as we live in the city and assume we will stay there. Both had amazing curriculums and teachers. Academics at SFDS blew us away.

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    4. Academics at Friends is getting much better. They've had a few founding families complain in the past, and their project learning has been rocky in the past, so they are getting outside help to improve this. I think they'll be fine in the future as they are investing a lot of consultants to improve this. It's still a work in progress but they seem committed to improving this going forward.

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    5. I'm not sure what the issues at Friends in the past might have been but we chose Friends because of the academics. We looked at the curriculum, the staff and teachers. We also spoke to a number of High School administrators. On all criteria Friends stood out.

      Regarding the curriculum, if you want a traditional education with hours of homework and memorization, Friends is not the school for you. There are benefits to a traditional approach but we felt a progressive education was more suited to the skills that kids will need 15-20 years from now. We loved the fact that Friends truly takes an interdisciplinary approach to the subjects kids study and that they placed such an emphasis on teaching kids to look at issues from multiple perspectives.

      Of the progressive schools in the area we looked at- Friends, SF Day, MCDS, Live Oak, and Burkes, the quality of the staff and teachers at Friends also stood out in our minds. The Head of School Cathy Hunter was Head of the Upper School at Head Royce for 12 years, the lower and middle school heads were both highly regarded during their extensive time at Nueva and the Academic Dean was a very substantive person who had great practical experience as well a thorough understanding of the latest academic research. While we didn't feel Nueva was a good fit for our family, we felt the academic program was amazing. The middle school head at Friends held a number of senior positions at Nueva including heading up the Innovation Lab and was very highly thought of be parents there.

      Finally, we spoke with administrators and teachers at a number of top high schools in the area and they all were glowing in discussing how well prepared the kids from Friends were and how they were exceptional thinkers.

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    6. The best academic co-eds in San Francisco right now are SF Day and SF Friends (which is coming up as the poster above noted). You could add MCDS if you include schools that have buses to and from SF. Nueva has been described as going a bit downhill depending on who you talk to.

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    7. Question here. If SF Day has such strong academics, why does just about every kid have a private tutor?

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    8. SF Day parent here, I heard these rumors too and spent a lot of time (my wife says too much time!) last year speaking to dozens of parents we knew through friends and trying to understand whether the tutoring rumor was real now or based on experiences many years ago (pre-David Jackson).

      Most children at SF Day do not have private tutors but I learned that many did some years ago before David Jackson addressed this issue. He's done a lot as head over the past 8 years, and saw the fact that many students relying on tutors to keep up with the material as a real problem. He's instilled quite a few changes since he took charge: new homework policy, support from teachers during school hours, learning specialists for each grade, and a focus on critical thinking and non-cognitive skills (think "How Children Learn/Grit, NurtureShock/Tools of the mind", etc.). There is also homework cafe afterschool and during the last 30 minutes of the school day teachers help kids build skills and/or complete homework so there's less to do at home and less need for help. There is also less homework than before: no homework until Grade 2 (so none whatsoever in the first 3 years) and it only increases by 15 minutes each grade and ends up being about 1-1.5 hours by middle school. Middle school is rigorous and stimulating, and the kids learn things I learned in high school and college. What really resonates with my family is that David Jackson's focus has been on the why behind learning, not the what - critical thinking is a focus of the school (not content or memorization) and the middle school children of the families I know love learning and enjoy their homework because it is stimulating and creative too. I know just one family with a regular tutor in the PA (parents' association) who is in Grade 3, and the student has dyslexia and possibly another learning issue so he does have regular tutoring in addition to the learning specialist at SF Day who works with him. My understanding is that he'll need a tutor for some time, and the family anticipated this going in (he's a younger sibling that was admitted). I've heard that sometimes it's the younger sibling that needs occasional tutors to catch up if the older child originally admitted had a more academic profile. So there is some here and there, but honestly as a current parent I can say with a good degree of confidence that this was my concern going in and I vetted it very much and don't see this as an issue at our school at all. I hope this insight is helpful. We've gotten to know so many families at SF Day in all grades: it's a real community and like I said, I really vetted this issue during our application year. Best of luck with your application process. There's a lot of misinformation out there about SF Day and other established schools and I don't know how much comes from actual parents. My suggestion would be to talk to current parents who are actually experiencing the school firsthand. I'm happy to help in any way, please let me know if I can answer any more questions about SF Day.

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    9. What a thorough and helpful response SF Day parent at 8:47 am! You sound like a very thoughtful and engaged parent. I am starting to think about schools now as I'll be applying in the Fall for my son. I'm really excited about what you've written about SF Day's pedagogy and focus on critical thinking as I'm an educator myself. I look forward to touring and learning more about SF Day!

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    10. I agree that its important to differentiate between tutors (which is what is used for typical kids just to keep up with the work) versus therapists (ed therapists, speech and language therapist). SF Day has about the most support of Ed therapists than any indep. school in SF. They have one per grade. Most schools have a lower and upper school person.

      what does this mean? who knows. What *I* infer from this is that when kids are screened in kindergarten there are usually no language or learning differences diagnosed. As the kids get older their difficulties stand out. So, bravo to SF Day for having the support staff but it also shows their needs for support staff are there.

      I am an educational therapist AND a parent of kiddo with diagnosed speech and language difficulty. In my world, as an educator and mom of kid with learning differences, the schools that always get talked about as being open to kids with different learning styles are are SF Day, Brandeis, Kittredge, Presidio Hill.

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    11. After touring basically all of the private schools with a few exceptions (such as the boy schools b/c we have a girl) I feel strongly that Alta Vista cannot be excluded from a list of the strongest academic schools in the city. Talk about being blown away by academics. Of course the older and more established schools have a lot to offer that Alta Vista does not yet have such as alumni networks, beautiful campuses (in some cases at least -though Alta Vista has a nice campus just not as impressive as some), stats on where they send kids to high school, etc, etc BUT if you just want to talk academics (and of course this is just for the lower grades as Alta Vista hasn't added the higher grades yet) -Alta Vista has an amazing blend of academics -the school stresses the basics and the kids all read/do math, etc a couple of grade levels ahead AND they have an amazing hands on way of teaching science that really engages the kids and makes them into real thinkers.

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  43. Interesting perspectives on the Friends interviews. We took it as a positive that they were focused on the "pedigree" of both parents. We moved to San Francisco from the east coast where this is a prevalent practice. If you look at the top schools in New York, they are populated by families where both parents are interesting accomplished individuals.

    We wanted a school where there would be positive role models for our daughter throughout the whole community. When we went through this process we felt the single sex schools in San Francisco seemed to be populated by families where the father worked in finance or technology and the mother stayed at home. Perhaps this is an unfair generalization but we felt that Friends had more of a community where both the father and mother were somewhat interesting and accomplished. While not as wealthy a community as some of the all girls schools, for our family it felt like a much more vibrant community.

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    1. Can I ask: Was the screenings for Friends similar to those of SFDay and other more traditionally "academic" schools? Because it is more progressive, was the interview with your child different do you think? Were they more focused on character and personality rather than, say, writing ones name or drawing a picture?

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  44. Funny, when I spoke with three families to get more perspective on the Friends experience (including my parent tour guide), and all three were stay-at-home moms who do a lot of volunteering at the school. I'm sure that was a small sample size and there must be many working moms too. Also, but by my own diligence, there were an overwhelming number of Tech/VC/CEO/Noe Valley families at Friends. Our family has more of a professional/liberal arts background so there wasn't as much diversity as I would like. But it makes sense given that the school is next to Noe in the Mission. All schools seem to have a type by the way. For example, at SF Day, I couldn't believe how many PhD/MD/Lawyers I met (everyone was uber-educated and had multiple degrees). Like Friends, many working couples and some stay at home spouses too (but not many that I encountered). I didn't apply to any single sex schools, so don't really know about those communities but they seemed to appear to be more old fashioned or traditional than Friends and SF day.

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  45. This seems very obvious. The people in SF who tend to have the most money to spend beyond the cost of living on private education (and most of each private school community is paying, not on aid) tend to be in the highest earning professions - here, tech and finance. For most others, private school is really out of reach. And it's not easy to get aid - you really need to offer something more than simply having chosen a lower earning profession than tech or finance. BTW - there are a whole lot of Moms at SFDAY who stay home. My tour was filled with them, and we know many families who go there (not all) who fit just this model. It's not always something people come out and announce though

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  46. I would love to know how much a "feeder" preschool comes into play in the process. In addition, is it teacher/preschool director letters that are the most valued element in the admissions process?

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  47. Feeders often have strong Preschool Directors who can help you get transparency into the process and guide you as well, but otherwise our experience is that it doesn't matter that much. That said, being in a great preschool and/or TK program does help as it develops the child and the teacher can help you understand the best environment and development concerns of your child so you can work on it. Name brand and feeder status is not that helpful; if anything, there are times when it can work against you if a "feeder" has too many families coming into your dream school already as siblings and the school doesn't want too many families from the same few schools to have more diversity. Good luck!

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  48. One school I give HUGE props to in all of this is Alta Vista. It was the only school we visited where it really seemed like we the parents were not a consideration at all. This is one school that does not interview parents: they interview the child and then, believe it or not, they tell the parents how that interview went.

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    1. Even though we didn't get accepted in the first round, I really appreciated Alta Vista's approach to the child assessment. We actually heard what they saw in our child. We heard every detail of the evaluation. This was very enlightening to us and helped us understood what they saw in him. I applaud them for that!

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    2. please tell me if I am wrong - is it Ed who sits down with each child? If so, I find it odd that someone with a background in science (not teaching, early childhood development, etc) is making the determination.
      Dont most places have a panel of people so that they can hear everyones opinions and takes on the child (versus one person making the call)?

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    3. We actually found our Alta Vista experience to be a huge turn off. We found it very strange that they essentially gave our child an iq test without telling us up front. We also found it odd that there was not another child in sight for our son to interact with. While we did appreciate hearing about our child's development, we laughed about the fact that they were trying to asess reading readiness with their series of tests while never once giving our son a book to see if he could read it. They really do take themselves a little too seriously. It was also a little disturbing when a first grade teacher could be heard yelling at one of her students to go to the bathroom because he couldn't control himself. Also, we saw another child in the corner of one hallway just standing there crying. Also a $100 application fee is a bit outrageous. We withdrew our application after the assessment. However, we do wish everyone who loved Alta Vista and who will be attending the best of luck! We know it's not for everyone.

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    4. I'm not sure why it is a good thing that Alta Vista bases so much of their decision on an interview with a four year old child. In fact I find it a little odd. What exactly are you going to get out of that. When we hire employees, they usually interview with 6-8 people and have established careers and track records and we still get in wrong half the time. My assumption is that the play date is a simple screen to see that there are no glaring issues with the child. It's a pass/fail type assessment. I would assume that the bulk of the decision is the pre-school directors assessment and how engaged the parents are.

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    5. This is elementary through middle school, not preschool! I can understand strong feelings against schools that aren't transparent when it comes to available slots, fundraising priorities, or cut-off ages, but I don't think anyone can object to a school spending individual time getting to know how a child communicates and thinks first-hand — and not hiding the information from the parent but sharing it.

      FYI there are plenty of other schools that do similar tests; the difference is that AV is the only school (that I know of) that shows the parents the results. (Presidio Knolls does a test like this only they have a third party conduct it.)

      It's hard to understand how anyone can object to a small, understaffed, new school taking the time to individually tour, talk to, and work on a project with each prospective applicant. Their focus is academic, their curriculum is accelerated, it's on the website! The classes are very small with two teachers; how the children interact with adults is important.

      Any school has the preschool evaluations to know how the children interact with other kids when they are relaxed and in a known environment. My personal feeling is that it is more fair to meet with kids individually than in a group, where positive and negative biases may make it hard to get to really assess a good fit.

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    6. Alta Vista's assessment is done by both Ed and Casey -Casey has a background in early childhood development. The child is also, I believe, brought into a K classroom -so there is interaction w/ other kids. Ed told us at our interview that he prefers to asses the kids individually b/c a group assessment brings many variables into the mix. We have friends who are very happy at the school and when we toured all of the kids seemed happy and engaged! We are headed to our 1st choice public but we loved Alta Vista.

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    7. I appreciated that we didn't need to go to a separate parent interview at Alta Vista -particularly given what a time suck the whole K search process was. I felt that most of the parent interviews were pretty superficial anyhow and sometimes logistically a nightmare for us to work into our schedule w/ kids, work, etc since they don't usually give you much choice of time. At Alta Vista we definitely had an opportunity to speak with Ed and his assistant at our child's interview as well as a bit on the tour. I assume this is used a little as a sort of parent interview -just less formal and superficial than the interviews at other schools.

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  49. It is telling that there is so much grief and discussion over the disappointment over private school admission
    and so little dialogue on how to fund public schools. Even in a liberal city like San Francisco it seems that people are unable to problem solve and unite over larger social issues and are much more invested in the micro-dramas of the privileged individual. The reality tv aspect of who gets in to private school or how they are treated along the way garners much more emotion and thought than the real dilemma in public education which belongs to all of our collective experience. It is too bad that the poster is disappointed in the outcome of their application, but does her disappointment really merit this much sympathy? Are there not bigger issues at stake at this moment in time? The romance with the big five privates and the associated dialogue reinforces the competitive and elitist nature of the private school experience and does nothing to question why people feel they need private school at all. Instead of comparing SF Day and MCDS, why aren't people asking why they are spending $200,000 to educate their child when we are suppose to have a functioning public education system. And if money is no object, then why aren't people concerned about the education other children are receiving since those children will be your future nurse, teacher, entrepreneur, voter, and tax-payer.

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    1. *****like*****

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    2. Hole in one!

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    3. The problem is that there are huge discrepancies between public and private. It's disingenuous to act as though parents are simply being snobby when they choose private over public; after all, school is not just a concept but an actual place where your child will be spending every day for years. You can't sugar-coat the fact that many public schools are not good, and that some are actually incredibly mismanaged, unsafe, and fail to adequately educate, nurture, or even protect children. Don't fault parents for wanting something better for their children.

      It's clear from reading these forums and from experience that both the public and private systems offer incredible advantages to more economically privileged families; public through the CTPI loophole and a complex algorithm that favors families that have the time to tour 20 schools and families that can afford the time and money to make up for any holes in the public system, and private by giving an advantage to wealthier and better-connected candidates, not disclosing their true admissions requirements or available slots while actively courting families they know they will not admit and acting as though the process is meritocratic.

      You are correct that every parent should hold onto this experience and work to create a better public system, one that can offer a quality education to each and every child. In the meantime, you cannot fault caring parents for simply wanting the best for their child's education, just as you could not fault caring parents for wanting the best food or medical care for their children. These aren't trivial concerns but of vital importance to the young children who depend on all adults to do what is right.

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    4. A great article on the middle class angst over education in the NY Times Magazine, March 31, 2013 - Carina Chocano's "'What If the Kid Got It in Her Head That It Was a Good Idea to Go Into Public Service?' A modest proposal for more back-stabbing in preschool." It's a funny essay and directly speaks the problems middle class parents encounter when they are thinking about schools and our culture of "leaning in."

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    5. @10:56 - I'm the OP. I'm not faulting people for sending their children to private. I do think it would more productive for us all if we looked at the larger picture and maybe moved some of the time, money, and energy out of the individual quest for a spot at a private school to a collective remedy the public system. For me, this has to be a collective, politicized effort which can be joined by all parents. Ideally we would act as if the well-being of all children was just as crucial to the well-being of our, individual children. I know that is not a possibility, but it could be an ideal and help shape our actions and thinking. For instance, if 1+1+1=3 goes to a public school and uses her educational trust fund to donate to the PTA and also becomes active in Educate Our State or some other political group that is asking for better funding for public schools, that would be a great contribution to a larger ideal. Any parent can donate to political groups like Educate Our State which are working on projects which impact a great many children. You don't have to be a public school parent to want better public schools.

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    6. I think many people who would be very happy to send their child to public school and be very active in that school are still hesitant to do that here in SF. It is absolutely insane the way the SFUSD system works and, to put it gently, a major turnoff to people who can afford-evenly if barely afford- to send their child to an independent SF school. I grew up going to public school and would send my child to my elementary school in a second. The school is very well funded, the community supports it, etc. Its where you live, where you go to school, everything is connected. Here, in the city, you have to go through this whole song and dance of picking a dozen schools or more and crossing your fingers. And then this school you get assigned to might be located NOWHERE near where you live. Sure, this will be your new school community, but the connection might be harder to make. Its just a different situation here in the city versus your friendly neighborhood suburban elementary school. I dont know what the solution is but it seems like it would take a whole lot of blood sweat and tears (well maybe just sweat and tears, hopefully no blood) to whip this system into place and time. It takes TIME which is something us middle class, working parents have very little of. Sometimes when there is more leftover money than leftover time it might feel like the right decision to write that check to that expensive-yet comfortable-private school. And maybe there will be something leftover still to contribute to the greater good- as suggested in the post above- And hope that somehow the public school system will get better, and that all children will have access to a great education and school experience, and try not to feel guilty for not being a more active part of the solution and instead putting your own child, and own family, first.

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  50. I understand the OP's pain and frustration of not being accepted to her first choice, and not getting any insight into why. SF Day was our stand out first choice, and we did everything possible (we thought) to get in. We poured over our essays, I wrote a first choice letter, my husband secured letters of reference from multiple members of their Board, we even offered to donate some money to their charity, Breakthrough. We thought we couldn't lose and we would be a shoe-in. I've since accepted at another school, but even so, I can't move on or even understand why they didn't accept us ... what does it take to get into SF Day?

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    1. It has been said before, but how your child does in the screening is really important - SFDS is focused on academics and are looking for the ones who score at the very highest end on the measures. Beyond that, preschool director relationship with the school, and connections with influential people in their community, there is a huge element of it that is out of your control - there are only 10 or 12 spots per sex for non-siblings and they are trying to create a balance of age, socioeconomic and ethnic diversity, personality types, and god knows what else. There were probably already several families with your exact same family profile vying for one of those spots, and maybe one of them had an edge over you in the screening, or one of the other factors. It is natural to feel disappointed by the result, but a mistake to take it too personally - being wealthy and connected are helpful but not enough to differentiate you from all the other wealthy, connected people applying to these same few spots.

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    2. I think this really sums it up well-not just at SFDS but other schools too. Beyond siblings there are no real shoe-ins.

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    3. I think the constant refrain that SFDAY is really focused on academics is interesting. How is this measured? When we toured, the head talked about how all the independent high schools always told him that SFDAY students were the brightest and strongest applicants in the city. But I took that with a grain of salt. It seemed self promoting and also hard to really measure accurately on a year to year basis. So do they measure?

      Are the ERB test scores of SFDAY kids higher than anywhere else? Someone here said that more of their grads go to Ivies, but that's often has a lot to do with: the parents own experience at or knowledge of Ivies; the capacity of families to pay for regular travel to the east coast for their east-coast educated student; a desire and aim to apply to Ivies more than other schools; family traditions, and so forth,

      Do the SFDAY kids in other ways demonstrate academic excellence above and beyond kids at other schools in demonstrable ways? Is this forthcoming academic excellence very visible in a five-year-old applicant? Reading specialists often say reading ability emerges within a spectrum, and there's very often no correlation (when pointing to higher academic abilities) between the kid who starts reading at 4 and the kid who starts reading at 6.75. Waldorf takes that concept even further, as do some of the Scandinavian countries -- that is, the idea that early reading isn't everything and need not be overly emphasized.

      Maybe SFDAY does pick the most academically gifted kids in the city, It would be great to hear examples, as it sometimes sounds as if many are simply repeating a refrain they've been told. It's certainly an effective way to promote the reputation of a school.

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    4. I've also heard from University High teachers that SFDS students are the brightest, but also just really "good, nice kids." What impressed me was the combination of academics and character.

      Also, I would imagine the education/socio-economic profile of parents at most of the "Big Five" (SFDS, Hamlin, Burkes, Town, Convent) are similar. So % of Ivy graduates, ability to pay for East Coast trips, desire to aim for Ivys, family traditions, etc. should be similar across the board. In fact, SFDS' student body is a bit more diverse than the others, which should actually argue against it sending the highest % of kids to Ivies. I am not an insider but I found the combination of these factors very compelling for SFDS.

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    5. Actually there are a number of studies that show that early literacy and math concept skills are very good predictors of later academic success. Surprisingly social skills are not a predictor (either aggressive or cooperative behavior). One research study tested children at age 5 (same age as our children at these screenings) and then retested them at age 14.

      "Controlling for IQ, family income, gender, temperament, type of previous educational experience, and whether children came from single or two parent families, the study found that the mastery of early math concepts on school entry was the very strongest predictor of future academic success."

      I'm not an educator but am an engaged parent who likes to keep up with this kind of information. I bet the educators/admissions staff at these schools know a lot more about how to find children who will likely be successful and do well at their schools than I do.

      If SFDS is looking for the brightest kids, they can find them. I think it is interesting that rather than depending on the shared assessment which Town, Hamlin, Burkes, and MCDS shares, they do their own screening.

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    6. I found SFDS impressive based on my observations of the student-teacher interactions on the tours, as well as in talking to teachers and administrators about the curriculum, testing, teaching methods, etc. It was clear to me that they don't just take on faith that their educational approaches and methods are effective; they believe in testing and measuring the results of their pedagogy - this newsletter is a good example: http://www.sfds.net/sites/sfds.net/files/spotlight_november11.pdf
      Their grads, like those of some of the other competitive privates, are also well-represented year after year at the best high schools in the city and at elite universities as well, so they must be doing something right.

      As to whether the kindergarten screening results of a 4 year old have real predictive value about how academically gifted a child will be when he is 12, I really don't know, but maybe these schools think it's a safer strategy to accept only kids who are already testing as developmentally advanced at age 4 - they probably feel they don't need to take the "risk" (whether real or imagined) of going to the the pool of students testing lower than that since they have such an overabundance of qualified applicants.

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    7. Having been through the high school application process with my child, I can promise that there are teachers at every high school who "love" students from every school in the city, and find them the smartest/nicest/best etc. So don't read too much into what some random UHS teachers said about their experience with students from SFDS.

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    8. @12:00, thank you for that. Given how anxiety-provoking this whole process is, it seems very easy to start a meme on this board that can send people into a panic (i.e., - SFDS has the best students! Is my child doomed because we aren't going to SFDS? If we don't go the right feeder preschool, are we doomed?) - it's always nice to hear a reassuring voice of reason.

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  51. 7:03

    Did you offer diversity or ALOT of money.

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    1. We did not offer diversity (we are white, christian and affluent) but we would be able to offer a lot of money. We didn't get in and frankly we're kind of shocked! We also had multiple letters from their Board of Directors even, and still didn't get in! I'm still very angry and hurt about this and for some reason keep going over everything and can't emotionally let it go. I think we did everything right, attended all events, pulled strings, had connections and still NOTHING at SFDS! It was our dream school and I'm still heartbroken ...

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    2. Frankly this makes me think better of SFDS. So they didn't take your bribe and offer your child admission? Money and nepotism does not win the admissions game? Sounds fair.

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    3. 8:44 am, you are being very unkind as we're sincerely broken hearted about this. We didn't bribe SFDS, we simply made it clear we could contribute greatly and the Board letters were difficult as well as we had to indebt ourselves with some of our connections and it was all for NOTHING! Can't you be more sensitive and see how hard this might feel for us? It's been hard to face people we know. We don't understand what else we could have done and now have to settle for a school that was a back up.

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    4. Although I have a little suspicion that we're being punked by the OP, ("broken-hearted" "shocked" "angry and hurt" by being rejected by one of the most in-demand schools in the city, really? comes across as a parody of a family applying to the big 5) I will say that the people I know who were convinced they were a "shoe-in" for one of the in-demand schools tended to be the ones who got rejected. Is it possible that the admissions folks pick up on a sense of entitlement and prefer to take people can articulate what they bring to a school beyond connections and money? Lots of families offer these two things, more than the school can admit, so clearly you need to find something more differentiating beyond that and not assume that pulling strings and touting your wealth will get you in.

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    5. wow - though crowd!! why is everyone so mean??

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    6. OMG I have to say as an educator that an offering to a charity smacks of the worst kind of bribery, however well-meant it was. I suspect you were just ham-fisted enough aobut money to make them feel it was a bad bet to admit you. Money is like Fight Club: the first rule of having money is that you don't talk about money.

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    7. Just want to mention that SFDay sent invites to all applying families to attend their charity event. So even if the above poster simply paid for tickets to attend it could be misconstrued. If the school didn't want the possibility of money being thrown around then they shouldn't have sent the invite. I thought it was a bit of a money-grab and played on parents insecurities, myself.

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    8. 7:03, I'm sure you didn't mean it this way, but your post kind of reeks of entitlement (i.e., you had the wealth and connections to sew up the deal, and you are experiencing a Romney-like shock that it didn't go as planned.) Some of us, who have neither connections nor wealth, perhaps are more experienced with managing our expectations trying to gain admissions into our "dream schools".

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    9. I know nothing about SFDay, but often, applicants are invited to school events so that you can get another view of the school and its community - I think it's an option for serious families and not designed to see who is buying tickets.

      I know there is a lot of anger from those who aren't accepted first round, but I do agree that even suggesting to ability of financially contributing to the school during admissions is looked upon negatively. Contributions are certainly important to any school, private or public, but realize that the majority of those who do apply to private schools are prepared to make that financial commitment.

      Honestly, I think these schools must be doing something right if everyone wants to get into them - they have obviously been choosing children wisely into each class allowing the school and children to maximize the potential. You may not understand why, but you aren't supposed to.

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    10. Maybe if you'd "pored" over your essays instead of "pouring" over them, you would have gotten in. Sorry, couldn't resist!

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    11. @9:27 - perhaps some of these comments seem "mean," but the OP posted on this board expressing shock and dismay that despite her wealth and connections, her child was denied admission to a prestigious school. Meanwhile a number of people have posted about their difficulty getting an acceptable public school assignment and private school is not an option for them. It is probably unrealistic to expect a lot of sympathy for the first scenario.

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    12. Didn't we determine the OP is punking us? I sure hope so...

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    13. Also, "shoo-in" instead of "shoe-in" ;)

      Sorry to be a stickler but if I was reading essays those kinds of grammatical mistakes would give me pause. Perhaps not enough to refuse a big donation, but then again these ADs have probably met many many more wealthy people than I have. And read more silly mistakes.

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    14. but you aren't reading an essay, you are reading a post on a message board. and i'm sure the ADs have GREAT stories they could tell.

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    15. @6:06 - "if I were reading essays" instead of "if I was reading essays" - subjunctive mood ;-)

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    16. Love the subjunctive correction!

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    17. @10:07 touché! :)

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  52. Our tour with SFDAY was strange. I think Homa forgot about us. We sat out in the lobby for a half hour and then finally asked the person at the reception area desk if she could check. Then it was very clear Homa hadn't read anything from our application. The biggest feeling we got was, wow, she's not even going to try to pretend she's interested. And it's true, while we would pay full tuition, we're not rich or classically diverse. It was the only school we walked out of feeling completely dejected. Like, why did we even bother to write thoughtful application essays? Also, in the waiting area before hand where current parents talk to you about the school (during the assessment) one told me how hard it was to get Latinos or African Americans to consider SFDAY. No wonder, it was intimidating for even a well educated, but not rich person.

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    1. I'm sorry your interview was such a disappointing experience. Ours was quite the opposite, as Homa had clearly read each word of our application and referred to things we'd written to ask thoughtful clarification questions. We are not rich at all, and still did get in. I can't understand why our experiences were different and I'm so sorry you left feeling dejected. Were you waitlisted or given a no? I hope you found a wonderful school ultimately.

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    2. This gets to the heart of one of the difficult and stressful aspects of the admissions process - it seems unpredictable and inconsistent. You can have all the "right" qualifications, connections, a brilliant child, etc., and still get rejected. Although it might cause future applicants a lot of stress to read about our experiences, I think it's really useful to understand this going in - at the end of the day there's no golden ticket, you just don't know what's going to happen, and if you don't get the results you want it's not an indication that you or your kid are lacking. There's just a HUGE amount of randomness in the process.

      And - if you look back on previous years' posts - at the end of the process (which unfortunately for some won't end until after the first day of school) everybody seems to end up somewhere they're happy with.

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    3. "one told me how hard it was to get Latinos or African Americans to consider SFDAY. No wonder, it was intimidating for even a well educated, but not rich person."

      Because clearly well-educated and Latino or A-A can't occur simultaneously in one family? Get over yourself.

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    4. No 9:59, didn't mean that at all. Thank you for pointing out how that came out. Meant to say, well educated and white (because the school usually seems to like people with degrees) but in no way meant to infer anything about the educational levels or degrees held by Latino or AA people and families. I should not have conflated those two things, and agree it came out wrong and seemed to infer something else. My apologies. Noting the whiteness had to do with a sense that the room of parents in the front room during the tour were all white, except for one Asian. And were very expensively and (intimidatingly) dressed. For a white person, me, who lives in the neighborhood of SFDAY. I found this group intimidating. Perhaps this scene also might be intimidating for others of other races and cultures who live in the city too. The woman who said those words was also talking about specific low income groups within those communities, and it's fair to say that a disproportionate groups of the low-income come from those two broader communities. But maybe I'm just way off and I take your criticism as fair.

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    5. My impression of SFDay was that they are really really concerned with the image of their school, and the message they are trying to convey and whether the applicants reflect this and also how the families can help shape their image. This was very evident in all the family portraits that hung in the hallway (which I thought was charming however does support my overall impression of this "image conscious" theme. We only looked at schools on the North side of the city so i cant really compare to Friends or LiveOak or such, but compared to the single sex schools it was an apparent difference. Perhaps due to the fact that SF Day is newer, not new but compared to the single sex girls schools it is alot newer of a school. Or I dont know what, but the other schools seemed more confident in what the school was all about, and in finding families that fit them, rather than picking families to help define them.

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    6. Our impression of SFDS was very different. They are very focused on diversity and at first it actually kind of turned us off. If you look closely at all of those portraits, you'll see more diversity than you can find at any of the other Big Five schools. I think we were uncomfortable at not finding more people who were similar to us on the outside (upper middle income, Ivy graduates, heterosexual nuclear family).

      But when I met the current parents and got to know them in more depth, I realized that what they shared was a deep interest in their children's education. I found them a particularly earnest bunch. And friendly and down-to-earth. We applied to a couple of other schools on the North side of the city, and I have to say that I found the parent community at SFDS much cooler and friendlier. Perhaps SFDS is really concerned with the image of their school, but I didn't hear any gossiping or cattiness between the parents, which I witnessed at the other schools.

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    7. The portraits seemed very selected to represent diversity. But there weren't enough of them there to really reflect the whole school population.

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    8. I loved that the hallways were covered with all the students' family pictures ... it made the school seem so reassuring and welcoming. Kind of like putting up your family pictures in your office when you're away from home. They didn't seem to be stiff or formal portraits, many of the pictures had warm smiles and a few were a bit silly in a good way. It gave the school a more inviting atmosphere that typical schools seem sterile by contrast. I wished all schools did this (and frankly it seems so easy to do).

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    9. SF Day has a family photo night every year that is well-timed to coincide with admissions season.

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  53. Meant to say our interview with Homa...

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  54. Do ADs Google or FB applicants? One thing I don't understand is how do the ADs know how much money you have. Other than what you or your kid is wearing during the interview, or if you come out and say it directly, there is nowhere else on the application etc that says your income. Your job title can imply a certain income, but not necessarily. They don't ask what kind of car you drive either. Financial aid is supposed to be separate,but many posts seem to imply that when they need money for capital campaigns they are more likely to accept the wealthy.

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    1. My experience is limited as we only applied to/accepted at/enrolled in one private school but I can assure you that we do not contribute in either diversity or money. In fact, our school does not allow donations from applicants - I'm not sure if that is standard at all schools or not. We did have to be transparant about our finances for financial aid applications, but those are evaluated separately.

      Sometimes it's not about you and your family, but the needs of the school - even if on paper, your family is very desirable or well-suited for the school. There are years when a school might not have a single girl or single boy spot and that has nothing to do with you, but the need to keep classes balanced.

      I know the process is frustrating and can seem vicious to some, but as an optimist, I do think schools do the best they can, in a fair way - it does no service to them for current families or potential applicants if their enrollment process seems at all weighted by irrelevant factors...word travels fast around town if a school is shady.

      As for googling or FB applicants - do they really have time? I'd like to think that the application provides far more valuable information than what's on Google.

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    2. Live Oak and Friends definitely do "google" parents and check job titles on linked in. I've heard they check property shark or blockshopper to get a sense of net worth. Both are starting MAJOR capital campaigns so it makes sense to understand the relative wealth among strong candidates, especially since they also admit middle and lower middle class families and need to balance out the economic situation so they can count on getting enough funding. The people doing this are in their development office people.

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    3. I'd be surprised if they didn't utilize those resources. It's quick and easy, and sometimes tells you more than the parents themselves would.

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    4. Friends capital campaign has been underway for well over a year and is going to be wrapping up. The campaign finishes the buildout of the 250 Valencia building and establishes the Friends Community Scholars program. This is actually a very good time to be starting at Friends - you'll get 9 years worth of bang for the buck on the campagins that happened in earlier years.

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    5. We applied to a few of the "Big 5" and also to Friends. Of these, only Friends looked at our LinkedIn profiles.

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    6. The new capital campaign I referenced at Friends is not facilities related and just began last year. It is to fund free scholarships at the Upper School level and it's a large area of focus for Cathy Hunter. The are looking to support families in the Mission specifically who can not afford Friends tuition; ironically, this will only happen if they can recruit enough rich families to donate serious money over this and the next 2-3 years. Money is very important to the Friends school now for this dream and major capital campaign to become a reality. All families (not on aid) will need to contribute, but the very rich families will be counted on to essentially fund it. Therefore, the "Google-ing" is necessary to find out who is actually wealthy (done by their development office) during admission season.

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    7. Interesting points 2:56 and 3:00, I think Friends just "jumped the shark" for me ... it's turning into something it was not. Also, LO is not looking so great based on this thread either ... Synergy anyone?

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    8. OK I have to ask, which ones are the "Big 5"? Is this just for coed? Ive never heard that before.

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    9. Heard it for the first time on this blog, as well. Consensus seems to be, Burkes, Hamlin, Town, Cathedral, SFDay. YMMV.

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    10. But you cant apply to all 5 then, since 2 are girls schools and 2 are boys schools. What about Sacred Heart(Convent/Stuart Hall)?

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    11. Sometimes MCDS is thrown in there too. Stuart Hall usually is not included.

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    12. Big Five = SFDS, Hamlin, Town, Burkes, Cathedral

      MCDS if you want to say "Big Six"

      Convent/Stuart Hall is not included but considered more established than second-tier Independents (Live Oak, Synergy, Friends, etc)

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    13. It does seem that an obsessive poster is contributing to multiple threads with his/her take on which schools have the most Pacific Heights snob appeal. Because from an admissions standpoint, things don't make logical sense.

      If some of the so called "second tiers" are so difficult to get into (and isn't that the origin of this thread?), what does that say of the "top tiers"?

      Because it seems impossible that the single-sex schools are anywhere near as hard to get into as a few of the coeds (from whatever tier on the pretentious scale), seeing as they have twice as many spots to fill for one gender than say an SF day does.

      Unless there is 4x more demand for single-sex v. coed education, it seems that the single-sex schools have to dig much deeper into any theoretical common applicant pool.

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    14. It seems there are differing opinions of what the "Big 5" are

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  55. You might be surprised how much information is on Google. For example, if you buy a house. It's there, usually so is the price, usually so is info if the purchaser was a trust, like a family trust. Address is of course there. Also job titles appear almost instantly. I think it naive to think they wouldn't seek out entirely legal info. FB though? I doubt it.

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  56. Really, for a reputable private school, the admissions process focuses on the kids. My husband and I may be perfectly delightful people and able to discretely communicate our ability and willingness to--well, let's say play an active and positive role in the school community---or maybe not. But bottom line, our kid punched another kid at his kindergarten evaluation play date in a dispute over a toy. This school had a ton of applicants to choose from. He didn't get in. If I were that school, I wouldn't have admitted him either.

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  57. Why is there not more discussion on MCDS and Presidio Hill on this blog, I can't really find any recent info on each. Does anyone have any insights they'd be comfortable sharing on either school?

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    1. I think one reason for this year is that a lot of the bloggers were located on the south east part of the city (and maybe the idea of MCDS and/or Presidio Hill were just too far away)?

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  58. Regarding the "Big 5" schools, we attend one of the so called "feeder" schools. Our current graduating class will be attending private schools with each child averaging 2-3 acceptances- primarily among the so called "Big 5." I think it's safe to say our parent community is one of the most focused groups out there. Over the past year, it would usually take 30 seconds before a conversation turned to kindergartens. Our school starts preparing us when our children are three for the process and our director has been around long enough that every AD knows her very well. We have extensive consultations with the school starting when the child is 3 years old that can last hours.

    I can say that within this borderline obsessed group, among the hundreds of conversations we've had over two years, I've never heard the term "Big 5." This is honestly a figment of imagination by some posters. Most parents at our school looked to see what was the best fit for their child. Many in fact were accepted to the "Big 5" and chose others.

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    1. I too come from a "feeder" preschool though not yours. I rarely heard the term "big five" but it was commonly accepted that "top-tier independents" was used quite a bit, and the schools included in that group were the "big five" so often referred to on this forum.

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    2. what is the process to get into one of these "feeder preschools"? Since the kids are even younger, do they do interviews and evaluations like the kinder process? seems amazing that each child had 2-3 kinder offers from the more competitive independent schools!

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    3. Might seem amazing but definitely true! Some of the ADs talk to each other (esp at say Burkes and Hamlin) and dont extend offers if the other school is going to, but most people I knew who got into one of the private schools in the first round got into more than one (if they had applied to 3 or more schools). Then, when they released the spots, other families that might not have gotten an offer got a spot of the wait list. The preschool director at some schools closely manages this process so that hopefully the waitlist spot that is given up gets offered to another family at that preschool.
      Oh, and how to get in to a "feeder preschool"? Some have child assessments, some dont. Alot of times its another case of who you know and what you can offer. About the family, not the kid- except for the whole balance of gender and age and diversity.

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    4. I keep hearing that ADs (esp at Burkes and Hamlin) talk and strategize (for lack of a better word) on who to accept. there are clearly families who get into both though, perhaps they are just the less "borderline" acceptances?

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    5. Yes, lets say someone is a great applicant in the eyes of both schools and they really have gone the whole 9 yards to get in, have had strings pulled (letters written, recommendations, etc) then I think they would get an offer from both, although the ADs would know this and would then know that at least one of those offers will end up being a freed up spot that can be offered to another family at the top of the waitlist.

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    6. If you go to any of the "kindergarten admissions" presentations (Parents Place, GGMG and others offer them) you'll always hear that there are no feeder preschools. I don't know whether there are or not, but based on our experience this year the role of the preschool director seems critical. Preschool directors who have strong relationships with independent ADs can make a huge difference (but I don't think they are found only at the "feeder" preschools). They help families figure out what schools are a fit and realistic; they have credibility in the assessments they write (and from what we heard in the process the assessments from the preschool weigh heavily); they advocate for the families (often with a call to the school in the process, and definitely if trying to get off the waitlist). We attended a preschool we loved, but where most families go public and where the director has weak ties to the independent school community. We got in to independents where we had our own strong connections, and not in to the ones where we didn't - our friends at our preschool had the same experience. We also had to do a lot more footwork in terms of figuring out where we should apply and how to position ourselves in the essays and interviews. So if you think that getting in to a competitive independent school is going to be important to your family, you should definitely factor that into your preschool decision - how strong are the school's ties to the independent schools you might want to attend (you can figure that out by exploring where alums of the preschool end up and in talking to the director), and how does the preschool director view his or her role in working with families through the kindergarten admissions process.

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    7. There aren't feeder preschools in the way of the preschool leading directly to the Kindergarten with no questions asked but some preschools send more kids to certain schools. Due to 2 reasons: The preschool director and the families. The families that get into a go to a feeder are often the same type that would get into and go to a top private school. Take that family out of that preschool and put them in another one and they would likely still get into the top private school. Then the families that may or may not get into the top private on their own might get a slight advantage if the preschool director has a good connection at the private school, but this is less important. I think what the poster above said is very true though, the preschool director can be of great assistance in the whole process, helping you during the application process and in working the waitlists that fateful week after the letters go out.
      But the private schools do like to take kids from a variety of preschools all over the city, they don't want to say that the incoming K class came mostly from the same preschool. That doesn't look good for them, so they are happy when they are able to find great applicants (and I use that term "great" just to mean an applicant having the aspects they are looking for whatever that might be) from a different preschool. In this sense, your competition at a preschool where most people end up going public might be a good choice in the end.

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    8. I'm guessing 12:33 went to 150 Parker. An excellent place to go that sends a lot of families to public but sends a bunch to private and preps them well for the application process along the way. And at Parker, you're not competing against everyone else in the class also trying to get into the same private elementary as you might be at one of the feeders listed here - the ones with the Ls - The Lone Mountains, the Little Schools, the St. Lukes

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  59. I would completely agree. Our daughter will be finishing up at one of the so-called feeder preschools and we have NEVER heard the term Big Five until it popped up on here.

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  60. We too went to one of the feeders and I'm wondering if it's the first one described. Except our class was piled with so many siblings (seems to happen in these feeders) that there never was an issue of the whole class getting 2 to 3 admissions each, nor did people reveal those kinds of details - or not everyone did. Still, didn't hear the Big Five term either. The top independents term got thrown around as private doesn't always have good connotations and the independent emphasizes, well, their independence from the kinds of things that sometimes make people fear publics.

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  61. In terms of the single sex schools being easier to get into, Im not so sure. I do think that SF Day would get the most number of applicants because it appeals to a bigger audience- it is more centrally located for one and I knew of alot of people who had it on their list. Such as I knew people who were applying to all the single sex schools and SF Day as well as people who were applying to all the South side of the city schools and SF Day.
    I think the sibling situation would be worse at the coed schools bc there would be more of a possibility of a sibling (such as a boy with an older sister would not have a "guarantee" at a all boys but would at a coed, etc)
    But then, the single sex have been around alot longer, and you could even run into the "legacies" situation.
    Sigh, can you tell I spent a long time analyzing this?

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  62. Could one of you private school parents explain to me why you even bother to send your kids to private school (often resulting in significant financial hardship for yourselves), when there are so many excellent public elementary schools, with very strong academics, in SF?

    I toured a bunch of public and private schools, and could not really see anything that would motivate me to pay $26,000 a year for a private (and we are fairly comfortably off and could have afforded it). I spent a lot of time comparing between schools the quality of the kids' work on the walls at each grade level, and just didn't see any evidence that the private school kids' work was appreciably better than the public school kids' work. Also, at many of the private schools the teachers seemed to be a lot younger than those at the public schools--which did make me wonder whether they were lacking in experience.

    My daughter is now at a "trophy" public school where she and the other "advanced" kids are constantly given differentiated education and opportunities to excel.

    So am I right in thinking that your reasons for sending your kids to private school have less to do with wanting strong academics and more to do with wanting your kids to be in a certain kind of social milieu? Because if academics are your motive for sending them to private school, I suspect you might be wasting your money.

    BTW, I hope I'm not coming across as rude. I just can't see that your kids are getting any better academics than my kid is, so I'm kind of perplexed as to why you're spending so much money for an education that just doesn't seem to be any better than the one that's available to you for free.

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    1. Well thats kind of easy to say if you are at a "trophy" public school now isnt it?

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    2. True. But there are enough quality public schools in the City that any parent who has the patience to keep playing the lottery will eventually get their kid into one--or at least that's how it seems.

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  63. I also think the question is fair. The definition of a "trophy" school is getting broader. The poster's child may well not be at Clarendon, Rooftop. CL, etc, but rather at another good school many have never even considered, or would never consider. With as many questions/comments as there are on feeder preschools and the "Big Five" it's not that crazy to think many of those posting are only looking at private schools, or if they're looking at publics, are only doing the go-one-round and only-put-a-few-schools (which might not even be visited) on the list thing, while really focusing on the private search. Because honestly, it takes a huge amount of time and energy and scheduling to really carefully scrutinize and visit both a wide swath of private and public schools. A huge amount of time beyond the capabilities of many. It sounds like the poster actually did that, and really thought about these questions carefully. Seems like a very reasonable question, not even taking into account the issue of whether the academic differences are truly striking in elementary school, where the classes are smaller and in some ways at least, students' lives are less complicated (or can be.)

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