Disclosure :: This post is sponsored by St. Martin’s Episcopal School.
7 Ways to Make the Most of Your Open House Visit
Whether it’s the lawn signs, billboards, ads, or social media posts — it doesn’t take long to realize it is Open House season for schools in New Orleans. Many parents across the city are navigating a wide variety of educational choices for their children. With so many options, attending Open Houses can be overwhelming for both parents and children.
Regardless of the schools you choose to visit this fall, here are seven ways to help make that experience more valuable ::
- Talk to students (or parents) at the school. Don’t limit your conversations to the tour guide. If there are opportunities to talk to current students, parents, or even alumni at Open House, find a moment to do so. Ask them why they chose the school, what they like best, or even what they like least. This helps you find out not only information about the school, but also gives you a sense of the community atmosphere.
- Ask lots of questions. It is easy to get overwhelmed while touring a campus, but getting a better sense about whether a school is a good fit for your child (and family) all comes down to asking questions that are important to your family. Here is a helpful list of questions for a variety of age ranges. If you can’t find time to ask during Open House, consider scheduling a return visit. (See Nos. 4 and 5.)
- Take notes… and even photos! You might think that you will remember what you saw and heard at a school, but after visiting a few different schools, you may not. It will be helpful to make notes and to take photos. Talk with your child after each visit and compare impressions. You may both be surprised at what stood out.
- Take a personal tour. Open Houses help you get a good feel for a school, but are certainly not all-inclusive. Meeting one-on-one with a school’s admission representatives and taking a personalized tour is a great way to focus on what is most important to your family. Did you want to see the arts program? Or athletics? Let your admissions representatives know ahead of time what you’re most interested in so they can design a tour that is perfect for you.
- Spend the day. You test drive a car and even try on clothes before you buy — and those investments aren’t nearly as important as your child’s education. Having your middle school- or high school-aged children spend the day is a valuable experience that can help them get a feel for student life, teaching styles, and the school’s atmosphere. (Depending on the child, even a lower school-aged child may benefit from a spend-the-day experience.)
- Ask for more materials. You’ll probably receive some sort of admission brochure, pamphlet, or maybe even magnets, pens, or notepads, etc. Consider asking for materials such as a school magazine or student publication. While admissions reps and Open House tour guides can give you great information, these additional materials will provide a clearer glimpse of what is important to the school community. They will also showcase successes and milestones that go beyond what can be captured in a brief school tour.
- Seek out recommendations. Often our friends and families have great perspective. Ask for recommendations from neighbors, family, and friends. Use social media, such as the New Orleans Moms Blog neighborhood groups, to ask specific questions about to other parents.