Your child has great SSAT scores and excellent grades. You have talked with teachers who will write stellar letters of recommendations. You believe that you understand character assessments and assume your child has the right character attributes. You are confident that your interview and your child’s interview went well. You also assume that your “connections” will give your child that edge to be accepted to top private schools.
Admissions committees want to learn more about applicants through their parents’ eyes. The purpose of the parent’s statement is to add dimension to the candidate’s statement and to help the admissions committee better understand the applicant from the parent’s perspective. The parent statement is one of the few steps in the admission process that parents control, but where I see parents make egregious mistakes. These are some of the more common mistakes:
- Assume your parent statement is unique. What parents often fail to realize is that admissions committees have seen thousands of applications and parent essays. They are looking for unique students who have a view or passion that sets them apart from the other hundreds of applicants who apply. When my team and I first review our client’s parent statement/essays, they sound like a typical statement. Parents actually assume that the statements are unique but they are, in fact quite predictable and commonplace.
- Procrastinate. Don’t wait until the last moment to draft your parent essay. Many parents, while getting everything else in order for the application, wait to start to write their parent statement essays. They may write a draft or two have it reviewed by a friend and submit it. We meet with our clients and brainstorm ideas that are appropriate for each essay early in the process. Parents submit drafts and we revise as many as 10 drafts so that the essays are grammatically correct as well as have flow, rhythm and color.
- Attempts to impress. Writing a parent statement that portrays your child as a leader and overemphasis childlike abilities will certainly cause rejections. I often see adjectives like immensely caring, forward thinking, brilliant, philanthropic and sometimes statements such as “my son or daughter will improve your school”. I often hear from admissions officers how parents in their attempt to impress schools often show condescension.
- Incompatible essays. Many parents write essays that don’t match teacher’s recommendation or the characteristics of their child. Admissions officers have different methods of truly discovering the real applicant. The student essay, letters of recommendations and the student and parent interview should harmoniously and rhythmically match. I often hear from admissions officers how the parent statement they read is not the same as the applicant presented and sounds out of step with the rest of the application.
- Using sample essays. If you are using sample essays the probability is that many other parents are also doing the same. This means that your essay will sound exactly the same as parents who are using sample essays. Plus, it’s not honest. I have had parents ask me if I use sample essays or send me past clients essay responses. We do not use sample essays, nor do we use past clients essays; I would advise all parents not to do this.
- Not hiring a professional private school admissions advisor. Lots of parents use the “do it yourself route”, hire essay writers or inexperienced educational consultants. To really write a stunning, awesome and meaningful essay that will help your child stand out you need to hire an admissions advisor who understands the entire application process, the mission and admissions policies of each school, and how a well written and descriptive parent statement will fit in the applicant’s profile. After all, the applicants profile is really a conversation amongst admissions committee members, one component out of sync will raise red flags that will cause rejection. The right advisor will work with you to discover MISTAKES and omissions, as well as help you through the process in completing the task of applying to private schools. Consider a professional private school admissions advisor as a great investment in your child’s future.
Dr. Paul Reginald Lowe is the managing director and lead admissions expert at Pinnacle Educational Center Admissions Advisors Group’s Private School Admissions Advisors. Dr. Lowe specializes in providing exclusive concierge-type admissions advisory services for U.S. and international families and students who are interested in applying to top U.S. boarding and day schools. Dr. Lowe also helps U.S. and international students gain admissions into their top choice private schools after they have been wait-listed and rejected.