We Are Westridge

A community blog featuring Head of School Elizabeth J. McGregor, the Westridge Leadership Team, our esteemed faculty members and occasional special guests


Top 2 Tips from a Private School Admission Director

The first in a series of blogs from the Westridge Office of Admission

by Director of Admission & Enrollment Management Sarah Jallo

Getting ready to apply to a new school can seem daunting and full of unknowns. You may be asking yourself questions such as, “What do I need to do to prepare my child? What is my first step? What should I be looking for in a school? What are schools looking for in my child? How do I know if the school is the right one?” Those are all great questions that I want to answer for you! So, this begins a series of blogs coming from our admission office to help provide insight into “all things admission,” from nuts and bolts information to more abstract topics and questions, like some of those mentioned above. And from time to time, we may throw in a post on whatever hot topic is burning up our office at the moment.

With the admission season just underway, I thought it best to focus this first blog with what I would say are the two most important things to keep in mind as you embark on this process. While there are many questions still to answer, when I whittle it down to the core pieces of advice that I really wish families would take to heart from the very beginning, here is what comes to mind:

  1. It truly is all about the right match
    This is #1 by a long shot. I know that from the outside this can seem like a platitude, but it is quite the opposite―it is key to the entire process. Finding the right match for your child is the most significant factor in your search. Every child is different and so is every school. The goal is for your child to be in an environment that best sets them up to learn and grow in confidence and skills―and that is found in a place where they feel they belong and are connected to the community, experience success in their learning, and can thrive through opportunities and in areas that matter to them. This is not to say there is a perfect school out there – there will be ups and downs for every child in every institution, but on the whole, finding the right match will make their educational experience more meaningful and beneficial, which best prepares them for life after graduation and beyond their school walls. There are many excellent schools, so it’s important to look past reputation to focus on the best learning and social environment for your child’s specific learning style, interests, and goals. Understand what motivates them and gets them excited about school and find a place where that can happen on a consistent basis.
  2. Honesty is the best policy
    Be your authentic selves in the admission process and be honest with the school about what you are looking for and who your child is. You should expect the same level of honesty and authenticity from the school about who they are and who they serve. No school can be all things to all people, nor can your child. Being in “the best” school won’t matter if your child is feeling unsuccessful or unhappy (something that will only make students feel incapable, disconnected, and unable to take full advantage of their educational opportunities.) Again, it is all about the match, so rather than focus on the end-goal of getting your child into a particular school, start by asking the questions that matter to you and determining if it is the school that will serve your child best. The school can’t answer questions that aren’t asked. And the last thing you and the school want is to start the year thinking “we wish we had known that.”

While these are the top two big picture concepts to think about first, there are many other topics worth discussing. As the year progresses, my hope is to have some fun with these blogs while helping to demystify this process and provide relevant and useful advice and information. Some future topics I’m hoping to address include:

  1. Frenemies: Our love/hate relationship with entrance exams
  2. Let’s talk about grades
  3. Everybody loves a procrastinator, except in the admission process
  4. Interviews: It’s a two-way street
  5. Decision time, part one: What are schools looking for?
  6. Decision time, part two: How do I know if I’m making the right choice?
  7. Wherever you go, there you are

I hope you will find this information helpful. Please feel free to let me know if you have other topic ideas to discuss, or your own burning questions I can address, in a future blog post!

Posted by Samantha Chaffin in upper school, middle school, westridge thought leader, lower school, admission on Friday October, 4, 2019


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An independent, forward-thinking
day school for girls, grades 4–12

324 Madeline Drive
Pasadena, California 91105
Phone: 626-799-1153
Fax: 626-799-9236

Westridge School admits students of any race, color, religion, national or ethnic origin, or sexual orientation to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national or ethnic origin, or sexual orientation in administration of its educational policies, admission policies, tuition assistance programs, athletic, and other school-administered programs.

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