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A prospective student getting introduced to a teacher during a private school open house visit.

Private School Open House: What To Know Before You Go

October 20, 2021

A private school open house might seem like just one more thing to fit into your busy schedule—but it’s one of the most important steps you can take in the private school selection process.

If you’re unsure about attending or want to feel more prepared, here’s everything you need to know about private school open houses, from what to wear to how to make a good impression on the admissions team.

What is a private school open house?

An open house is a no-commitment, no-pressure opportunity for families to visit a school’s campus and learn about the school’s approach, facilities, faculty, and programs.

Why should I attend?

At a private school open house, you will get a chance to explore campus, meet faculty and staff, and learn more about the school’s approach. This will help you discover if the school is the right fit for your student. An open house gives you an opportunity to not just read about the school but to experience it.

An open house is also an early opportunity to start building a rapport with the admissions team. Stay engaged throughout the open house to make a good impression. Listen, ask questions, and take notes to show your interest.

What do I wear to a private school open house?

The parent dress code for a school open house doesn’t need to be stressful! Business casual is usually a safe choice. If you’re unsure, browse the school website to see what faculty and staff are wearing in their photos, and select a similar style of dress. 

Should I bring my child?

Generally, schools recommend that you leave young children at home, as they can distract parents from getting all of their questions answered. If it’s important to you that your young child see the school before enrolling, you can schedule a private visit once you’ve formed your own opinion on the school. 

However, if your child is in middle or high school, attending an open house can be beneficial—especially if you’re planning on giving them a say in what school they attend. 

What should I do to prepare?

You can attend an open house without doing any prep work. However, in order to get the most out of the experience, do some research so you can arrive with questions you want to ask, programs you want to learn more about, facilities you want to see, or faculty and staff you want to meet. These things might not all happen during your open house visit, but knowing what you’re hoping to get out of the event will help. Bring a small notebook and pen, or make sure your cell phone is fully charged so you can use a note-taking app.

What happens at an open house?

Open house activities vary from school to school, but often include:

  • A brief campus tour
  • A question-and-answer session
  • An activity/club fair, where you can learn more about athletics and after-school programs 

If the private school you’re considering is a boarding school, you might also have lunch on campus so you can assess the dining hall, and you may be able to schedule an overnight stay for your child to give them a more in-depth experience of life on campus. 

You might be able to schedule an interview for your child on the same day as the open house, but often this happens separately. An open house event also might not include a classroom visit, so if you’re hoping for an opportunity to see the school’s philosophy and curriculum in action, schedule a private tour for another day.

Since an open house is a time for many families to learn more about the school, it’s not a personalized experience. Remember that you can always follow up with admissions to schedule a more complete campus tour or interview opportunity for your child after the open house event.

Choosing a private school is a big step for any family, so don’t miss out on the chance to experience a school open house.

Want more tips and resources?

Join Admission Academy, our yearlong event program that supports families step-by-step through the private school admissions process.

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