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Private School Admission Myth #2

Carolyn Means - Tuesday, January 30, 2018

HOUSTON PRIVATE SCHOOL ADMISSION MYTHS

Real Information Parents Can Use  

Carolyn Means, M.Ed., CEP

Houston’s Day School Consultant

Myth #2: Parents should not be truthful on applications.

Questions on School Applications:

Has your child had educational testing in the past?

Is there anything you would like to tell us that would help us know your child better?

Has your child been diagnosed with a learning disability?

Is your child currently taking medication?

Has your child been asked to leave a previous school?

What other schools did you apply to in the past?

Parent

“Oh, no!! This is an application to the school of our dreams and I have to answer these questions? If they find out the truth, my child will never be accepted.”

I get this reaction often, but my experience with schools has always proven that being truthful is the right choice. Of course, sometimes my client and I discuss a situation and determine that the answer is, “No”. Other times when it is clear that the answer is, “Yes”, I explain why schools need this information and why being truthful will benefit the child.

Myth #2: The Truth The truth is that schools want to partner with parents. Partnerships begin with a truthful application.

When parents are not truthful on applications, they begin a network of fibs that can come back to haunt them. Admission directors are not expecting to find perfect applicants. When they learn that a child has a learning differences or an unfortunate past experience, they want to know what support the student is getting and if it is sufficient for the student’s success.

If you have concerns about how to answer these types of questions, come see me for a SCHOOL SOLUTIONS Consultation to talk about how being truthful can benefit your chances of admission to a school. Often I can help parents with application responses by talking through the issue and helping them understand how the school might view it in a positive light.

Private School Admission Myth #1

Carolyn Means - Tuesday, January 30, 2018

HOUSTON PRIVATE SCHOOL ADMISSION MYTHS

Real Information Parents Can Use  

Carolyn Means, M.Ed., CEP, Houston’s Day School Consultant

Myth #1: Top Houston private schools select students with the highest grades and test scores.

Parent: “Our son Jack just earned a perfect ISEE score of four 9’s! His OLSAT score was 140!!  He has dedicated his school years to becoming a perfect student. Test prep and tutors have taken up all his time, but with his high honor roll grades Jack should get into all the best high schools. What more could the schools want?”

Myth #1: The Truth: The truth is that low test scores may keep a student out of a school, but it takes more than high test scores to get a student in.  Without a doubt, admission committees will take notice of ISEE scores of 8 and 9 stanines. However, schools know high test scores are not predictive of success in school. High test scores could be the result of test prep, but not an inquisitive, creative mind. That is why teacher recommendations, class visits, and interviews are highly valuable parts of the admission process.

When choosing candidates for a new 9th grade, schools today want to make a diverse class of students who will add richness to the educational and social experience of their peers during their years together as a class. Schools look for students with a variety of academic strengths, athletes for every sport, actors and stage crew, musicians, artists and dancers, filmmakers and journalists. Applicants with much to offer outside the classroom may not have top entrance scores and grades, but they may be curious and gifted and role models for leadership. 

If you want to know more about entrance tests and the range of test scores that Houston private schools typically like to see, make an appointment for a SCHOOL SOLUTIONS Consultation. We can discuss test prep resources and a reasonable approach to helping your student become sufficiently prepared for the next admission season. If you want some ideas for helping your child develop the talents and strengths schools are looking for, that is also a good topic for a Consultation with SCHOOL SOLUTIONS Consultant, Carolyn Means.

Repeating a Grade or The Gift of Time

Carolyn Means - Friday, September 08, 2017

Why does Harvard University's acceptance letter ask student's to take a gap year before entering college? It turns out they know that "redshirting" has some big benefits. Most Houston families are familiar with "redshirting", a practice used to give athletes time to mature and extend eligibility. When kindergarten became the "new first grade" academically, some children were developmentally ready to master the tougher curriculum, but the younger children in the class often struggled. Eventually, we saw fewer children turning 5 in the summer being ready for kindergarten. When I have a conversation with parents about whether to consider giving their summer birthday child the "gift of time", I refer to "S-P-I-C-E". Thanks to former Houston school principal Shayne Horan for this handy acronym, we know that a child needs to be strong in these developmental areas: Social, Physical, Intellectual, Cognitive, and Emotional. When a child is one of the youngest in the class, and social and emotional development lag behind, classmates may not be kind. Cognitive delays can cause anxiety. If you want to talk about when your child should start school, this is a perfect conversation for a Consultation. Complete a Contact form and you will hear from SCHOOL SOLUTIONS the next business day. 

How to Prepare for the ISEE

Carolyn Means - Wednesday, September 06, 2017

It's nearly ISEE time. Will your student be ready? Houston private school applicants to grades 5-12 must take a rigorous entrance test covering vocabulary, reading and math. The Education Record Bureau publishes the Independent School Entrance Exam, better known as the ISEE - sounds like "icy". Here is the web address for ISEE information and registration: https://www.erblearn.org/parents/isee-registration. 

Students can take the pretest in the free, downloadable publication, "What to Expect on the ISEE", find a free online pretest, or use a testing company. Students who want to compete for the best schools must prepare for the ISEE.  If you think you need help having a successful admission season, fill out the form on our Contact page and we will get in touch with you by the next business day. 

Maker Spaces Capture Students

Carolyn Means - Sunday, April 23, 2017

 


Dysgraphia and Working Memory

Carolyn Means - Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Dr. Cheryl Chase from Cleveland, OH, presented an excellent program on dysgraphia – “an impairment of written expression” – at the Houston Branch of the International Dyslexia Association Conference on March 4. Research is showing that the connection between the amount of working memory one has available and the familiarity of graphic material impacts writing. Typically, a person with illegible handwriting has fine-motor difficulty, an inability to re-visualize letters, and an inability to remember the motor patterns of letter forms. It is common to find dysgraphia present with dyslexia. Working Memory is becoming a major topic of conversation in education. Some psychologists believe that the amount of working memory a student can hold in his/her brain’s “counter space” is a more important factor than IQ when determining the student’s potential to be successful.

“The Cusp of Confidence”

Carolyn Means - Tuesday, March 07, 2017

I love it when I hear a new phrase that captures just what I want to say. Jerome Schultz, Ph.D., Harvard Medical School, spoke to the HBIDA Conference on March 4 about not Dyslexia, as one would imagine, but Stress. Most of us know about “toxic stress”, that long-term, destructive stress that can damage our immune system, and “tolerable stress” which is short-term and we get over it or adapt to it. Good stress is the kind we feel in a situation where the challenge “hits the sweet spot”, or the “cusp of confidence”. I think of a “right” school as one that puts students on the “cusp of confidence” – a rigor and pace that asks for a reach without causing anxiety. We want to put our students at a point where they balance stress with competence, confidence and control.

ADHD and the Developing Brain

Carolyn Means - Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Author and ADHD expert Chris Dendy spoke at the ADDA-SR Conference hosted by Briarwood School February 25th, about research that shows the slower development of the brain in children and young adults with ADHD. On the whole, there is a lag of 2.5 to 3 years, or 30%, in the executive functioning region of the brain of a student with ADHD and a student without. This explains a lot about why a ten-year- old might act like a 7-year-old or a sixteen-year-old may act like a thirteen-year-old. Impulsivity, lack of emotional inhibition, and poor organization are among EF Skills that make the ADHD kiddo look less mature than his peers. Research was done by Barkley and Shaw.

ISEE Scores Are Coming In

Carolyn Means - Friday, January 27, 2017

Tears. Shock. Joy. Sighs of relief. What is the reaction at your house? The Independent School Entrance Exam scores are coming in. With these scores, hopes can rise or fall depending on whether the scores are in range of what the target schools generally want to see in applicants. The ISEE is one of the toughest tests a student will take. I tell my students to think of sharks in an Olympic-size pool – only the strongest and fastest are in the pool and they are all fighting to the finish line. Students don’t believe me until they take the “Practice Test”. Then reality sets in and they are ready to devote every weekend until January to test prep. Adding another layer of anxiety, new guidelines allow students to take the test more than once and choose the score set they want to submit to schools. I often say that ISEE scores will not get a student “in”, but they can keep a student “out”. Students who read good literature for pleasure and those who can quickly and accurately compute have a huge advantage over students who don’t like reading and have weak math skills. As an educational consultant, I do a lot to help my families manage all aspects of the ISEE.

Trafton Academy Tour

Carolyn Means - Friday, January 27, 2017

Today I visited the PK-Grade 3 programs at Trafton Academy located in the Willowbend area of Houston. Trafton has been a highly respected school serving grades 4-8 for over 40 years and was able to buy the adjacent Mrs. Wagner’s preschool-third grade school when it closed a few years ago. It took no time at all for Trafton to fill the remodeled classrooms with bright new furnishings and happy children eager to learn “The Trafton Way”. That “way” is what some may call “old fashioned” – even my student guide used that term, but he said he has not minded because he feels truly prepared for high school. High school admission directors like to see Trafton applications because these students have strong academic knowledge and skills, are polite, confident and respectful and have leadership skills, have had opportunities to play lots of sports, compete in PSIA academics against top schools in the state and nation, learn to play a band instrument, and have had an age-appropriate middle school social life. Trafton is not fancy on the outside, but the students care about what goes on inside the classroom where they are offered a “reach” and their efforts are rewarded. Small class size, mastery learning, caring teachers, solid curriculum with a wise infusion of technology, and a school community that honors good choices. No wonder the tour was full.


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Nothing is more important than your child's education. SCHOOL SOLUTIONS in Houston, Texas, offers educational consulting services to help parents make the right choice for their child’s school. As an Educational Consultant and founder of SCHOOL SOLUTIONS in 2004, I have helped over 1000 students find the right fit at over 90 different Houston private and public schools, from preschools to high schools, including special needs schools.

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