It's not uncommon for parents to shop around during the Private School/JATP process and see what it is that they should and should not do in choosing a school. Unless you are shopping at a local Whole Foods, it is difficult for one to obtain and objective perspective on what the schools represent until you make an appointment to tour the schools personally. Parents in the Atlanta area must rely on word of mouth to determine which schools would serve their students best.
In an effort to help understand how parents "think" and make their final (or in some cases, only) choice, here are some strategies that some parents have subscribed to in preparing for this life-changing decision:
The "Cast a Wide Net" Approach
In some circles, this is an approach that is used by families who are more concerned with the status of being in a private school than the actual private school itself. They have listened in on the various conversations that their fellow "Parent-In-Arms" are having at the playground, preschools and athletic fields to gather information freely. Once they hear of another school that was not on their radar, they add it onto their personal list, call the school the next day and sneak into the next tour before the end of the month. They are new to the private school world because they either are not from the Atlanta area or they attended public school and do not want their children to attend public school.
Pros: Somehow, one of these schools may provide a favorable response and glimmer of hope that may cause you to star in your own "School Wars" trilogy
Cons: A school may choose you because they need to fill in the numbers and it may not be the best choice for your child.
My practice is private and confidential, however, I can tell you that there are a number of Legacy families that I meet on a daily basis. The "Legacy Approach" (also known as the "Blind" approach) is one where the pride of a family and where one or more than one individual attended, takes precedent over the proper selection of a school with a child. It is important to keep up with traditions that are meaningful and important, but isn't that what Thanksgiving football games and the Macy's Parade is for? Knowing that Grandma and Mom went to the school is important, but times have changed and some schools have changed in their educational philosophy and have contributed some wonderful students in the global community.
Pros: Great for family pictures and maintaining a certain degree of conformity within your micro-community
Cons: Choosing or imposing a school for your child may cause more harm than good especially if your child does not feel that school is for them.
This approach is taken by some families because they either know too much about one particular school through another child or family member attending the school or because they are completely enamored by that chosen school. They have played out their cards rather favorably because their children can attend the local neighborhood public school as a back up in their envious neighborhood or continue to attend their "Plan B" school that their child is currently enrolled at.
Pro: Saves you time in planning and prioritizing your school search. For the most part, you only have to schedule one of everything for this "chosen" school.
Con: This leaves nothing on the table for other schools in the search. Many schools in Atlanta are being avoided because the parent is only choosing one school. Because you are looking at one school, the pressure is insurmountable for some individuals who may not be able to handle it. (Yes, that means you might need to call on your support system when your children are in bed at 11:00pm or early in the morning at 7:00am to relieve stress). And, it might cause you to have a nervous breakdown if your application make a grievous mistake anywhere during this process.
If you would like to learn more about how Learning Ridge has helped Atlanta families through this process of choosing an Atlanta private school and obtaining a favorable response, feel free to contact Christine at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can call me at (404) 964-8533.