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Admissions Director Offers Advice on Preparing for Parent Interviews

When students apply to boarding schools, admissions officers schedule separate interviews with candidates and their parents. Many parents wonder how their conversations affect an application. With the busiest season for interviews coming up, now is a good time for insight into how admissions officers see this element of an application. 

Erby Mitchell, Director of Admissions
Hotchkiss School, Connecticut

How does the meeting with parents fit into the application as a whole?
We usually meet with parents right after the student’s interview. In this forum, I try to distill my sense of the child, based on our conversation. I’m looking to family members to clarify how on-target my perception is and to add more texture to that impression.

Is there anything in particular that parents should or should not talk about in this conversation?
Focus on the child. What are his or her strengths and areas for growth? Why is he or she a good fit for this school environment?  Remember, these comments are additive because candidates have already had an opportunity to speak for themselves. A common mistake is focusing on how to get the candidate “in” rather than on the delights of the child. This is not the place to mention where parents went to school, or a corporate relationship that has some connection with our school.

What is your goal in this conversation?
Most importantly, I want to get a sense of what a family’s greatest hopes are for this child. That gives me a sense of how the family’s values match up with who we are as a school.

What do you wish parents knew about this meeting?
Be confident that you are sitting down with people who care deeply about children. Our top priority is helping young people grow. Hopefully keeping that in mind can help parents relax.