The private school admission process can often feel stressful, confusing, and even tedious. Yet, it can also include some surprising moments of joy for families to experience together.
One such surprise? The opportunity for parents to truly focus on and examine their child’s emerging personality, strengths, and passions and connect with them on a deeper level.
The private school admission process focuses on nearly every component of your child’s character and development — from grades and test scores to interests, talents, identity, and motivation. It requires you to intimately understand your child on multiple levels to find the best-fit school for their needs.
While a student transcript and teacher recommendations provide glimpses of your child, other factors make your child a unique individual. How can you get to know these intangible aspects better?
One way is to have your child take the Character Skills Snapshot (the Snapshot).
<span class="text-color-orange" role="decoration">What is the Character Skills Snapshot?</span>
The Snapshot is an innovative online tool from the Enrollment Management Association that gives schools a more consistent, complete picture of your student during the admissions process.
Taken at home in approximately 25 minutes, the Snapshot measures a student’s preferences, attitudes, and beliefs about seven essential character skills: initiative, intellectual engagement, open-mindedness, resilience, self-control, social awareness, and teamwork.
Hundreds of private schools use Snapshot insights to better understand how they can help applicants grow and thrive. The results complement a holistic admissions process that includes information from standardized tests such as the SSAT, recommendation letters, interviews, and other application components. Schools do not use it alone to determine if a student should or should not be admitted.
<span class="text-color-lightblue" role="decoration">Should Your Child Take the Character Skills Snapshot?</span>
While the Snapshot is a beneficial tool for admissions professionals, it is also extremely relevant to families who want to ensure they find the right-fit school for their children. There are many reasons why the Snapshot is useful for students and families, including:
- The Snapshot elevates your child’s voice in the admissions process. While other aspects of your child’s application come from outside perspectives (standardized tests, their current school, recommendations, etc.), the Snapshot reveals your student’s view of their own strengths and skills.
- The Snapshot is more than an admission assessment tool. Schools and their teachers also use the Snapshot to better understand a student’s strengths and areas for growth so they know how to best support the student on their academic journey.
- It’s a great conversation starter within your family. The Snapshot will provide important insights into your child’s personal perspective — and some of it may come as a surprise to you! Even if you decide not to send the results of the assessment to potential schools, it will still allow you to talk to your child about their perceived strengths and weaknesses in a new way.
- Character assessments are becoming more common in higher education and the workforce. The Snapshot represents a new way of analyzing whether an individual is a good fit in an educational or professional environment. Google, for example, measures the “Googleyness” of every new hire. Getting familiar with character skill tests now will give you and your child valuable insights that will be useful in the future.
<span class="text-color-green" role="decoration">Are There Any Drawbacks to Taking the Character Skills Snapshot?</span>
One concern parents might have about the Snapshot is also one of the test’s benefits — there are no right or wrong answers. This can cause parents to misinterpret and assume that a student would want to measure strong in all skill areas.
However, schools do not expect (or even want) students to be strong in every area. Private schools are looking for individuals who will be successful in their programs — and success is not just about admission, but about persistence and positivity throughout the educational journey. Schools are looking for students with potential who will bring different, unique character skills to their community.
“The Snapshot helps us evaluate children on the skills they need for lives as adults that will be fundamentally different from the lives we lead today. We need to help our students develop skills for careers that don’t exist yet, and to solve problems that aren’t invented yet,” says Laurel Baker Tew, Assistant Head of School for Enrollment Management at Viewpoint School in Calabasas, California.
It’s important to remember that admissions professionals never focus on only one tool in the enrollment toolbox. The Snapshot is one tool that gives students a voice in the process — and can also bring your family closer together during the private school admissions journey.