#admissionchat episode eight with Keri Allard, Madison Country Day School, and John Barrengos, The Putney School

Let’s Talk About Rolling Admissions

March 14, 2022

#admissionchat episode eight welcomes Keri Allard, associate director of enrollment at Madison Country Day School in Wisconsin, and John Barrengos, director of admission and financial aid at The Putney School in Vermont. They discuss the different ways that rolling admissions is utilized by their schools and what it means for families.

Questions discussed, include:

  • What are the different approaches to rolling admissions?
  • How does it benefit families?
  • Is the application process different for rolling admissions?
  • Are there deadlines to be aware of?
  • How does financial aid work with rolling admissions?

Listen to the episode above, ask your smart speaker to play #admissionchat, or subscribe on your favorite podcast platform: Amazon Music, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Pandora, Spotify, Stitcher.

Transcript

Daren Worcester: Welcome to #admissionchat. Let's talk about rolling admissions.

[Intro music]

Daren Worcester: Greetings, I'm Daren Worcester, and in this episode, I'm excited to be joined by Keri Allard, the Associate Director of Enrollment atMadison Country Day School in Wisconsin, along with John Barrengos, the Director of Admission and Financial Aid at the Putney School in Vermont. Keri and John, welcome to Admission Chat.

Keri Allard: Thank you for having me. I'm very excited to be here.

John Barrengos: It's a pleasure to be with you both.

Daren Worcester: Excellent. Let's start by having each of you tell us a little bit about your careers, how you got into helping families through the enrollment process, as well as a brief overview, if you can, about your schools as well? And Keri, how about you go first with that?

Keri Allard: Thank you. So a brief overview about my career. I started out actually in higher education when I started in education. So I worked in higher ed for 15 years. I worked at Madison College and University ofWisconsin, Madison, and I actually came over to working here at Madison CountryDay School when I enrolled my twins here at school. I fell in love with the mission and the vision of the school. And as I told my former colleague, she recruited a parent as well to be her co-worker.

So I have been here with Madison Country Day School inMadison, Wisconsin for about three-and-a-half, almost four years. And we are a pre-K through grade 12 independent school. And we have on average, about 450students. And we are actually in our last year of accreditation to become a full IB school.

So not only have we been going through COVID, our teachers have done a phenomenal job at moving all of their curriculum over all of their lesson plans to International Baccalaureate program.

Daren Worcester: Sounds like never a dull moment at Madison Country DaySchool.

Keri Allard: No, we have fun all the time here, all the time here.COVID, we've stayed open through COVID and then doing IB. So never a dull moment, always fun.

Daren Worcester: Excellent. John, how about yourself?

John Barrengos: Well, I've got to start by complimenting you Keri, and your school. The IB is no small mountain to climb and the transitions can be really challenging. I used to serve on the board of the school that did that, and I'm in awe and I'm excited for you, and that's going to be fun roads ahead.

John Barrengos:

Quick overview of my career, Daren, I started in commercial banking, like so few admissions folk do. I got out of college, went into banking, got into the side of banking that worked with schools and hospitals and nursing homes, and non-profits then I ended up working for my alma mater, running their development operation back in the 1990s.

Then I went to grad school for a Master's, and I stayed for a Doctorate, studied education. And then I went back and forth between teaching and administrative assignments, until I became a Head of School in2007, a sweet K-8 school in Connecticut. And as my daughter was getting old enough to look at high school and I knew their finances better than, well, anybody else there, I had to go to them and say, "Hey, I've got to find a place that can pay for my kid to go to high school because the local school isn't going to work."

Long and short of it is my family and I have been at thePutney School since 2013. Putney is an extraordinarily progressive version of a boarding school. It's one of the most unusual schools I've ever been a part of.I love it. Its aspirations in its dreams are unassailably idealistic. And I have fun getting to do admissions work because we don't have to try to be all things to all people. We get to be who we are and try to engage folks in that.So I'm in a pretty good mood professionally these days.

Daren Worcester:

Excellent. It sounds like you're one of one. Thank you for joining us today, John. All right. So the simple definition, and feel free to add to this, of rolling admissions is that schools continually accept and evaluate applications on an ongoing basis instead of just the traditional fixed application period.

However, it gets a little more complex than that. And part of why I'm glad to have both of you with us today is that each of your schools essentially has a different definition or twist on how it handles rolling admissions. So I'd love for you to describe what rolling admission means at your schools? And I know there are other schools that treat it the same way as yours. So what that means for families when they're applying to your schools? And John, how about you go first this time?

John Barrengos: Sure. I think Putney's version of rolling admissions maybe typical for small boarding schools that are not at the very top of the brand hierarchy in terms of market position, and atypical for schools that have ongoing rolling admissions. So in some ways, we're a hybrid.

We have a first season in admissions that mimics precisely what most boarding schools advertise. You're going to recruit in the fall, families are going to get acquainted with you in the fall and visit. You're going to be evaluating applications in the winter and notify families. They're going to hear from you on March 10th, and they're going to get back to you onApril 10th. And in that way, Putney has a very conventional process.

On March 11th, however, we're into our second season, or at least the way I think of it is second season, and we intentionally hold about a quarter to a third of our open spots for that second season. And there's a bunch of reasons for that, that I hope to get a chance to get into, but that would be the structure of our rolling admissions.

Once March 10 happens, we roll all the way until we finish filling up, which can be anywhere between mid-May and late June.

Daren Worcester: Excellent. I think I am going to have some follow-up questions on that as we get into it. Keri, how about yourself?

Keri Allard: Our school is rolling admissions, meaning we are open enrollment all the time. I guess kind of similar to John, we have our first season, which is all of the families that have been pre-planning and looking at us, and on top of their game. And so they're applying and going through that, and what we do is we have evergreen contracts. So our families let us know at the end of January, if they'll be continuing with us or not.

And so by February 1st, I know how many openings I have. Some classes, I might have openings already. So I know I can do the admissions for those prior to that January 31st deadline. Otherwise, February 1st, I start enrolling, offering spots to all of those, and we are open the entire time. So I'll do mid-year transfers. I'll be enrolling the first week of school. So we have that entire time that people are able to enroll.

And we typically enroll until the class is filled. So I have a couple of grades right now where they're very tight and I don't have any openings, but the rest of the school, I do have openings. And so, Madison, Wisconsin has a lot of great public schools. Independent school is something we've been around for 25 years, but it's a newer thing here.

And so for people, it's kind of... we're like that diamond that really hasn't been found yet. It's still buried and we are working. We have a phenomenal marketing team. Dana Asmuth, who has come back, has been phenomenal at rebranding, and we're doing a lot of new things. So people are starting to find us. And so we have become more popular.

We have become increasingly popular and I have to say, COVID was definitely a plus for me. And that really kind of helped scaled us invisibility, I think in our area. But that just is kind of the short answer as to how we work our admission cycle.

Daren Worcester: Excellent. Thank you. So looking at this from the parent perspective, when they see a school accept rolling admissions, and I'm intrigued, John, by how you guys holding spots and what that means for families as well. What do you see in terms of what's the benefit to families or what can they get excited about when they're applying to a rolling admission school? And Keri, why don't you keep going with that one?

Keri Allard: Sure. I think the opportunity, and it seems like John, Putney School does this, is it allows you if you didn't have that first time to look at the school, or maybe it wasn't even on your radar, you didn't know you were transferring jobs or you're happy with your current school and then something's happened. It allows you that time to enroll and not have to wait till the next academic year.

I see it as definitely a time that you can still shop and make the best decision for your child academically.

Daren Worcester: Excellent. John, how about with you?

John Barrengos: It's intriguing to me, what Keri's describing from my point of view makes terrific sense depending upon market. I don't know Madison at all, although I want to know it better. It seems like a neat part of the country. The idea that a day school has a relatively geographically static market and how people learn about schools, what drives their hopes and anxieties, how they make decisions about major expenditures, that's sometimes specific to a culture and a neighborhood, and a cocktail party, right?

Whereas the boarding school equation, I think is different because the market's not limited in that way. So we don't have to worry about what's become fashionable or normal in a particular neighborhood or a group of neighborhoods. That's my long-winded way of thinking my way into, I think the families that look at a boarding school might fall into a few different categories.

The well-behaved ones, the ones who are compliant, the ones who are conventional and traditional are definitely looking at the different alternatives, lining things up, getting those applications in on time, because they want to be in the front of the line for consideration if they're very much subscribing to that steep brand hierarchy notion. "I want to get into name brand school XYZ, whatever it might be. I know what I have to do." Think of the colleges that we know. If you want to go to Yale, you're going to line up and get things done a little bit in advance probably.

Putney's a place where we definitely get those families. One of the reasons we hold onto, Daren, one of the reasons we hold onto spaces for the spring is we don't want only those families. And because our market is not delimited by how far will people drive and commute twice a day to make school work, we've got the opportunity to assume a pretty large number of potential families are going to be looking at us.

Some that looked at the more traditional models of education and some that didn't even think about the fact that they were going to be changing schools until much later than would be convenient for our calendar. So we, in some ways, want to be open to any number of groups. We also explicitly want the maturity and the reflective capacity, because we're just four grades. We're just high school. We want the maturity and the reflective capacity that comes from both kids and parents who've been down a road that has had bumps. And we buy the idea, we believe in the idea that high school has some bumps in the road.

So to have kids looking at us in the spring season of that second season, who've had, if not a rough time, a time that didn't quite meet their needs, I suppose at the minimal level of discomfort, it didn't quite do what they wanted it to do, all the way up to they've had a rough go of particular aspects of it and they're open to looking at something new.

When those kids look around, those families look around and they check out the alternatives, and they see a place like Putney and they find that it meets their needs or that it might meet their needs, those kids are invaluable because they're coming into Putney as 10th graders or 11th graders typically. And they're coming with a motivation and a clarity about what they need, that models for the rest of our community.

Now, Putney's progressivism is very unusual too, and it's part of why that makes sense. We don't need to bring in a ninth grade class that is static for four years and holds the culture of the school. Our culture is about fluidity and permeability and not having hierarchy, so it works in that way too. Is this making sense or have I gone way off the deep end?

Daren Worcester: It's making sense. I think Keri has a follow-up question and I may as well, but Keri, why don't you go first?

Keri Allard: Yeah, sure. It's not really a question. I was just going to say, I think you brought up a great point in the sense that it allows you to diversify your population, because you have your students that come in, like you said, that this is going to be, or we've had students that have been here since pre-K and they've just gone along, and it's really nice to have these students come in, that we weren't on their radar.

And so I think diversifying the population is really nice, and we are in the part where we're trying to grow our high school because it is smaller. And so, these steps allow us because not everybody, they're like,"Oh, I'm going to this," and then they start looking and they're like, "Oh my gosh, college is coming up. Oh wait, you do advising, starting in ninth grade. Wait, let's slow down. I don't have to hire a college consultant," and being able to look at these things.

So I do think, I agree, you do have those that know exactly what they're doing. They've planned it out for many years in advance, but then to have others that are brilliant individuals that can come in and just really light up a class, it's nice.

I do think when we're talking about rolling admissions to families and helping them understand how this process works, that part of it isa little bit of myth busting. And if I'm a parent and I'm listening to what you guys are saying, it all almost tells me like, well, I guess I can wait to apply, but I'm guessing that's really not the right takeaway for that.

And John, I'm curious with your season one, season two approach to it, if you guys do, for lack of a better term, roll families from season one into season two? How does that work?

John Barrengos: And we're right in that moment right now, Daren. So we definitely have... we have a January 15th admission deadline and I think it's the same deadline for financial aid. Some number of folks make the deadline. Most of them have some piece that's running late and we have an admission committee that has students on it as well as adults. And so we meet weekly, all the way through January and February and very beginning of March, which means we can consider an application that hasn't been completed as long as it's completed by maybe the first week of February, maybe the second week.

Do we still get more interest? Sure. And what do we do with those? Well, We see what we can. So I've got three or four folks just as we're about to send out our accepts and our declines this Thursday, I've got three or four folks who we almost made it to, but won't quite have made it to.

So for those people, Daren, they're going to hear from us,March 15th, March 16th. For people who are just interested now and jumping in, we'd simply make it clear, "Hey, you're going to be part of our second season." As we all do in admissions, we explain what the process will be.We offer them scaffolding. We paint a picture that includes using March andApril so that we can get them acquainted with the school, come up for a visit, see kids in action, all that kind of stuff.

Keri Allard: John, would you ever take somebody and say they didn't make it into your first admission cycle, kind of like some of the bigger universities, you waitlist them to see, do I want to bring you in? The bigger universities will say, "Oh, you're on my waitlist. And then if I don't get enough applications, then I might want to bring you in," or do you guys just say, "This just isn't the right fit right now?"

John Barrengos: Well, no, it's a great question. If we think someone is able to add something to what's going on at Putney and vice versa, if they're acceptable, we want them to be part of our group. If we've hit a limit in a class with a gender with day or boarding, we'll use a waitlist for sure, but we won't do it for any other reason.

So the premise of the higher ed folks doing it is there's volume. Putney's got 225 students, 235 students. I'm only getting 75 to 85 new kids every year. So we are a very, very self-selecting situation. If they walk onto campus and think, "Oh my God, they don't mow their lawn every 20 minutes. How could I ever be here?" They turn around and go, and that's fine with us, right? That's just not what we're about.

So our numbers are pretty low and we're not asked to artificially inflate them. There are some schools out there with 10% acceptance rates. It strikes me as unethical. What are you doing goosing up all those applicants if you know you're going to be knocking out nine out of 10? But I'm going off a little. Sorry, Daren.

Daren Worcester: That's okay. That's okay. Keri, since waiting list came up, do you guys... are waiting lists still part of your process as an ongoing rolling admission school?

Keri Allard: Yes, we do. And we don't call them waitlist. We use wait pool. And so instead of a waitlist, we have a wait pool and that's because when we have students go to what would normally be termed a wait pool, I need to be able to look at, did their sibling get in?

So maybe I have four people in a wait pool. I want to look when I'm admitting the student into the class, like we're looking at gender makeup, we're looking at diversity. Do they have a sibling? Because siblings get priority over non-siblings. So we put people into a wait pool.

So I have a couple classes that do have wait pools, and so this year I was able to take them into this upcoming year. So I will bring those wait pools over year to year, should something like that happen.

Daren Worcester: I think some people view rolling admissions as almost like an application speed pass, that they can start applying in the summer and just get it knocked out really quick. But what is the application process? Do you see it as a full process? Probably is your application process essentially as involved in equivalent as what John's is, I guess is the question?

Keri Allard: Sure. So I don't know his entire application process, but ours would be the same, whether you apply in January or you apply August 24th.The benefit to applying earlier is for instance, my fifth through grade 11 are open to receive the Prairie Hawk Merit Scholarship. So applying earlier, you have the ability to be eligible for scholarship money.

Also, it is being able to get into a class that is open and not closed. So I do love that we have open rolling admissions, but I still think if you're even thinking about it, it's always good to look first and then find out all your information, go through the admissions process. So you can make your decision as well, because as you're going through the admissions process, yes, we're reviewing the application and getting to know the student and the family, but also that is their time to be interviewing us. So then they can make their decision as well.

So maybe they meet us and they're like, "Oh, this isn't the right school for us." Well, you haven't kind of waited till later thinking, "I'm just going to apply and go here." It's more or less like, "Okay, that's not the right spot. Let's look at a different place."

John Barrengos: I think that's such an important point. If we're doing our jobs well, certainly we work for our schools and we're trying to maximize what's good for the school, but if we're really doing our jobs well, we're helping families do the learning that they need to do to make the best choice for them and their child. And I think that's a really important point that we make with families whenever they apply, but if I know somebody's thinking vaguely about exploring schools, I say start as soon as you can, even if it takes you a while to get through the process.

And for us, like you, the process is the same, whether they are first round or second round, but there's no chance they've got as easy a shot at financial aid awards. No chance because the folks are going to get mostly consumed in that first round. I'll reserve some because I need to, but the big awards are going to be out of the way by then.

But I think people need a chance to go look at three schools that are completely unlike mine so that that student... and we need the student to be really on board with the decision, so that that student knows what they're responding to and knows what they really like about this school, that school, or the other school. That doesn't happen if they start in August, and although I get the concept of rolling all the way until you're full, I'm very skeptical of late summer enrollment because you can't give an admission process, or we can't give it as much time as it needs. The teachers aren't available, the dorm parents aren't as available. And we want them to connect in our admission process, anyway.

Daren Worcester: Of course, of course. You guys both brought up some great points. A, not putting all your eggs in one basket, and if you wait too long, the other schools that you might be considering may not be available. Keri, you mentioned scholarships and availability. John you threw in financial aid and availability, which I think is such a huge point.

I think we've hit the big ones, but is there any other potential sort of hidden deadlines if you will, that come up in a rolling admissions process? And I'll leave that open to both of you?

Keri Allard: It's not a hidden deadline. I just think it's better through the admissions process. We do a shadow day for our students, and even though... And things happen where you decide that you need to change over the summer, or like I said, there's a job transfer.

So over the summer enrollment is always great, but I think as... and for a student that's transferring, it's nice to be able to do that shadow day and have time to come into the school because again, they're able to see like, "Okay, this is how the school operates. These are the type of kids that are here. Oh my gosh, I didn't even realize they had this department because when my family was talking to them, they didn't mention that I really love theater. And so my mom might have just kind of lazed over that, where this is something I'm huge into, or they have a science research program."

The ability to do that is great where over the summer, I don't always have the chance for the child to come in and shadow because we don't have summer school. I do have summer camp, but for high school students, they don't get that ability. Like I'll have a meet with other families and students, but I really think a hidden deadline that isn't truly a deadline is just the ability to go on campus and be there while school is in action. Just being able to see, I love giving tours during the school day because the parents get a feel and the vibe of what we're like in watching the student engagement, and making sure that that's the student engagement that they're wanting.

John Barrengos: I'd echo that, what Keri just said about being able to see the school while it's a school. We have students give our tours. And in fact, I like to get people into the classroom, maybe even more than they would initially have an appetite for, because that's what differentiates us. So in the best case, folks are getting to gather their information from Putney during school.

It's also the case, and I guess this would functionally be a hidden, if not a deadline or pressure, the families that get finished with the enrollment process by early mid-June, those kids have as easy a shot at the courses and the activities that they want, as just about anybody else.

If I've got a student squeezing in, in the middle of July, or even into August, the course selection, the whole nine yards around the program just can't be as flexible. And I don't know that that's the case with all schools, but it makes sense to me that our colleagues on the academic and registrar side need to get these things lined up. So the degree of freedom that kids would have should diminish over time.

Daren Worcester: Those are both great points. In regards to the visiting campus and getting to see it when it's vibrant and the students are there and all that stuff, I know families can call and set times to come visit, but in terms of your planned open houses, do you just plan them in the fall traditionally or do you plan them throughout the year so that families can come in on sort of those group visitation times?

Keri Allard: So we do, we have like our kind of set open house times that we have, like Readiness Day for my pre-K and K students, my new incoming classes for that's always held in January. I usually have a fall open house to really gather those coming for the following year. And then usually, we kind of look at where we are enrollment wise and then almost always, ever since I've been here, we've done a spring open house as well.

We've also tried doing some online events. So not in-person to show that we are the academic leaders, and so we're offering yardstick events. And that's like looking at the child's social, emotional development as well as physical development. So a lot of parents who are...when your first child going to pre-K or K and you're like, "Oh my gosh, is this normal? Or is my child a genius?" Trying to figure all of these different things out.

So being able to place ourselves out there, and then that kind of brings... I've used that as a tool to then bring them into maybe another event in person. So we do have those, and then actually, just this year, it first started, I've never seen it before, but we had some colleagues at charter school. They were out in D.C. and saw this, and we do ADFEST.

And so this was our first year for ADFEST, and it's all the schools. A lot of us were all independent schools. We did have one public, it was all the schools in the area. So our gifted and talented school, our kind of slightly alternative school, our private schools, they were all able to be there and parents could go one-to-one-to-one and stop by and get information.

And I thought that was a really neat way because it was kind of getting all of us together. So yes, we are competing, but we were able to get to know each other, get to know more of the curriculum over there. So when I do have a child who is highly gifted and we have a great curriculum, but maybe they need that little extra, I can say, "Oh my gosh, this is a great area."

And so I thought that was something nice. And so the committee, I was discussing with the committee and we're going to do an open house in the fall, and then another online event in the spring to catch those and possibly in person, but to catch those second round of admissions individuals as well.

John Barrengos: And that underscores for the families, the idea that even though these schools are competing in some ways, they're also there to serve the families. Daren, you were asking about open house events and such, and ours are typically in the fall, but we are so geared toward inviting individual applicants and their families to come visit us on their own, that while we have those events, we're always inviting people who come to those events or who never even see those events. "Hey, you've really got to spend a half day with us. You've got to sit in on classes, the best way to check this place out because it's unusual is to be here when possible."

But our open house events have only morphed a little bit with the pandemic where we can create online stuff. And we've used the online stuff almost throughout the year, just as a way to keep capturing folks as they go through their arc of experience of the school, which may start in August, but it may start in December or January, or March, or whatever.

Daren Worcester: I'm curious, you both mentioned you maintain some form of a wait pool, not a waitlist, if I've got that right for both of you. What does that mean in terms of mid-year transfers? Are those more likely? Is it more apt that there'll be a situation where maybe a family moves? I know family moving probably not going to affect your school, John so much, but are there situations where children are leaving halfway through a school year and it's more likely as a rolling admissions school, or more feasible for new students to kind of get rolled in? What are your thoughts on that? John, can you go first this time?

John Barrengos: We won't take kids in that we don't feel pretty confident about. So we may have space in the school that is not filled in September. And if I find mission appropriate kids who I think can handle the social transition in January, we'll do that. I'm thinking of last year was a little unusual because the pandemic actually did have people pretty clear about moving out of a whole bunch of different locations, toward more rural places that might say, look like Vermont and be beige on a COVID map.

So we had a huge influx of interest from states that we had not seen before. For us, this was a very large number. I think we had more than 35 families looking at us for mid-year. I think we offered admission to seven. We enrolled six. The one we didn't enroll came in September following, and two or three of the 36 or 35 applied for the fall.

So I'm not sure that the waitlist or the wait pool idea has much to do with our mid-year. Our wait pool usually has more to do with on occasion when there's just not the right spacing in dorms, we'll put someone in a wait pool and hope that, that might fix. And more often than not for us, we have a yearly $72,000 price tag. It's usually a financial aid waitlist, and that's something that someone decides to go on next week when I send those letters out this week, and they might be going back and forth with me between now and June to see if money's freed up, because someone didn't take an award or something shifted, or maybe they finally got comfortable talking to the grandparent about helping out, all sorts of stuff. But I'm not sure that's tied into the rolling quality, Daren, I might be missing something there.

Keri Allard: No, I have to agree with you. I don't think that rolling admissions really has too much to do with the wait pool in acceptance. Every once in a while, I might have a transfer or something like that. And then I can say, "Oh, hey, something just opened up," but that doesn't happen too often. It might go to the next year.

John Barrengos: Daren, you kind of asked if people sometimes feel like it's more convenient to have rolling admissions so that they can go later. I've never had people who are in my pool saying, "Yeah, this is really interesting to me, but March is a freer month for me," anything like that.And yet I wonder, out in Madison or in the day market, does that happen? Will they say, "This is a busy period for us. We need to check you out in a few months?"

Keri Allard: Yes and no. I have had families where... I just enrolled a family that I've been working with for two-and-a-half years. And it's just because like, "Well, do we want to make this step? I have a child over in this daycare, do I want to do this with the younger ones?" And they're finally doing it, but for the most part, if people are truly interested, they're going to move on it.

I do get families that say... and that's just because our market is completely different. I do have the openings, I am trying to enroll students. So they do have that upper... they have the leverage to say,"Oh, you know what? We're busy this month. So we're going to come back next month. It's not like a February to March thing per se, but it's just like,"We're busy right now. I'm traveling for work and I'm doing this and that." So it's not a priority.

And so that does happen, but I also think that's our market and we're trying to... I've definitely seen an increase in queries. SoI'm able to say like, "Okay, I only have a couple spots left, are you interested or not?" So I think yeah, it's a little different, but I think that's market to market.

Daren Worcester: Excellent. Well, if there's one takeaway that you'd like families to have from our conversation today, what is it that they should remember? And Keri, how about you go first?

Keri Allard: Sure. I think the one takeaway is investigate all your options. I think really taking a look to spend the time at the school, taking the tour, sitting in on a class, having your child shadow. I think those are the most important things to rolling admissions or not, just when you're making a decision about where your child's going to go to school, I think that's the most important thing, is really diving in and interviewing the school as much as they are kind of interviewing the family.

John Barrengos: I hate to sound like I'm echoing Keri, but I think it's the same point. My only caveat would be that I think it's really a good idea to do that with three, four, five, six schools, and schools that are different from one another. But I can't underscore enough how powerful it is when kids have a sense of context, even when they're younger, when they know the different alternatives and they're part of making that choice, it gives them a sense of clarity and confidence, not perfect clarity and perfect confidence, but more than they would otherwise.

Daren Worcester: John, can we dig that rabbit hole a little bit? Why do you find it important for families to really look at schools that are different from each other?

John Barrengos: The premise of my school is to reject the conventional model, and the conventional model is you want to go to Hogwarts because it's the most popular school. You do everything you can to go Hogwarts and you apply, and if you get in, your life is complete, and if you don't get in, you've failed and you're ruined. That's a pretty dichotomizing model of self-worth, of contribution to community, of value of community, and of contribution to school and to a larger society. We reject that wholeheartedly.

So when I've got a kid who's going to some version of Hogwarts in New England, and they can look at a place like Putney and a place that's different from the other two schools as well, I'm arguing that that family and that kid is giving themselves the chance to take their learning journeys seriously, and to see themselves as an individual who has things that they responded positively and with uncertainty and negatively.

That's the conversation I want the family to be involved with for their sake, but it also lets them be frankly, a lot smarter in their consumption of the potential service called schooling. And that customer usually chooses us because we've got a very thoughtful educational design as opposed to a KIPP Academy, content driven kind of a model, or a brand hierarchy,"If you do what we say you do, you're going to go to Harvard," which is a load of baloney, and it's oversimplifying, and it's not useful for anybody.

So I don't know if that makes sense, Daren, but that's what occurs to me.

Daren Worcester: No, that makes perfect sense. I'm glad you dug into that. Keri, any final thoughts there for you?

Keri Allard: No, I just 100% agree. I think you're going to be able to make the best decision by doing that and seeing it. Yes.

John Barrengos: That was so much more compact than what I did.

Keri Allard: John, you can't be compact. You can't be compact.

Daren Worcester: All right. Well, I really appreciate you both joining the #admissionchat podcast today during what is a super busy time for you. So thank you both. I'm sure this is going to be really helpful for our families.

John Barrengos: Thank you, Daren, for letting us do this.

Keri Allard: Yes. Thank you, Daren. This was fun. I'm so excited, I've been on a DVR radio show now. This is awesome.

Daren Worcester: Excellent. Thank you both. And for everyone listening, thank you for joining this #admissionchat. Please look for another episode soon, and for more insight into the private school application process, visit Admission.org and check out our Admission Academy live presentation series, featuring insight from school admission leaders. Until next time, take care everyone.

Subscribe to #admissionchat

Don't miss an episode—subscribe on your favorite podcast platform: Amazon Music, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Pandora, Spotify, Stitcher.

Latest Articles

Read the most up-to-date advice on finding and applying to your best-fit school. 

View All

Is it hard to get into private school?

It's a question without a one-size-fits-all answer. Let's take a look at the factors families should consider to bring clarity to the question about getting in.

No items found.
A link arrow.
May 24, 2022
May 24, 2022

How to Prepare Your Child for Boarding School

How can you get your child ready for boarding school? Here are some things you can start doing well before you load up the car and say your goodbyes.

No items found.
A link arrow.
May 12, 2022
May 12, 2022

Parents and Private Schools: How to Build a Strong Partnership

You've probably talked to your child about attending a new private school, but you're also joining a new community—here's how to make the most of it!

No items found.
A link arrow.
Apr 25, 2022
Apr 25, 2022