We are approaching decision time for applicants to independent schools. The consultant and family school research, student visits, coaching, testing and interviews are all done. Now the wait is on. Most schools will be announcing their first round of decisions by mid March.

Admissions staff are reading and assessing applicant folders right now. With the increasing popularity of independent schools, the pressure to achieve the right mix and fit of successful applicants intensifies. I found reading the applicant files to be a joy in discovering each student’s uniqueness. The pressure came from rendering the decision when the competition was overwhelming.

When I was admissions director, I was always looking for talent. As an admissions associate at Choate Rosemary Hall School said to me in November on my visit there, “ We are looking for smart plus.”

The “ plus” is personal for the student, yet must fit the programs and values of the desired school. Both must mesh and fit. The great independent schools enroll a well-rounded class with multiple talents in evidence. Schools want star soccer players to star saxophonists. If they go together in one student – great – but that is very difficult to achieve, so they try to encapsulate excellence as a whole in a class.

At this period in late February, the educational consultant will be nearly as anxious as the family. Did he/she recommend the right school fit for the student? Did the consultant provide enough advice prior to the visits to help the student shine and stand out? Finally, did the consultant advocate clearly and effectively for the student with the admissions office?

March decisions will tell the story. Stay tuned. Stay calm. I wish the very best results to all applicants, particularly my clients of course!