When you decide to move to a new area, one of the first things to do is to explore schools for your children. Below are a few tips for how to tackle each stage of the school research and selection process so that your move to a new city will be complemented by a smooth transition to a new school!
Step 1: Online Research
The National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) recommends considering multiple topics, such as educational philosophy, student body, and facilities, when you’re looking at schools. Once you have an idea of what qualities you want your school to have, use a resource like the NAIS School Search Tool to locate schools in your new area. Filter for big categories like geographic location and school features (boarding vs. day school, co-ed vs. single-sex, etc.) and you’ll see a list of the independent schools in that region. Sort the list to show schools in the city or state where you’ll be moving and let the detailed research begin!
You may want to make a chart or list to keep track of the websites that you visit and the things that stand out to you. Visit multiple pages of the school’s website and do a mix of reading content, watching videos, and looking at photos so that you can get a full picture of what each school offers. Note any questions that come up or things that seem especially interesting so that you can ask for more details during the in-person visit.
Step 2: In-Person Visits
Once you’ve thoroughly explored the school websites you should have an idea about which schools seem to fit with your family’s needs. Reach out to those schools to schedule a time to visit. If possible, arrange for parents/guardians to tour before students so you minimize disruptions to their current school year. However, if you don’t have much time before the move, or if it isn’t feasible to make multiple trips, you can schedule the parent and student visits for the same day. When arranging the visits make time for both a campus tour and a meeting with administrators and/or teachers to discuss any questions that you have.
Step 3: Submitting Materials
When you’ve decided where your child will apply, carefully review the process and timeline for admission and financial aid. Ask each school how you can track the progress of your application, and check in regularly with your child’s current school to make sure that those administrators are clear on what materials should be sent to each school.
Step 4: Preparing to Transition
So, you did the research, had a productive visit, submitted your materials on time and have selected your child’s new school. However, your work is not quite done. The final step is to support your child’s transition to the new environment. Reach out to the new school to find out what opportunities they have to connect new families to the community. For example, at Sanford School the Admissions Team helps organize orientation events so that both students and parents are prepared with the Home and School Association and each division (Lower, Middle, and Upper School) to do things like match new families with mentor parents and organize orientation events so that both students and parents are prepared for what the new year will bring. Buiding relationships over the summer will go a long way toward helping the year to begin smoothly so that, soon, the "new school" will just feel like home.
Jacqueline DeLaFuente received a bachelor's degree in Spanish and Psychology from Amherst College and completed her M.S.Ed. in Urban Educational Reform and Leadership with an Elementary Teaching Certificate at The University of Pennsylvania's Graduate School of Education. She has served students and families from early education through graduate school, and after several years working in higher education career services and college admission, has joined the Sanford preschool through 12 admission team.
Christine DiUbaldo received a bachelor's degree in Elementary Education from Penn State University with a minor in Urban Studies, and her graduate coursework was completed at the University of Delaware. After teaching third grade at Sanford for twenty-one years, she has taken her love of Sanford to the role of Assistant Director of Admission.