View Only

Grace in the Admission Cycle

By Marianne Ryan posted 02-08-2024 12:47 PM


The week after the application deadline and final scheduled tour, I received 14 inquiries and 5 phone calls from families looking for tours and application information for the upcoming school year. Quite honestly, I was a bit disappointed. We advertise our tour dates in many online and paper publications, and our website clearly outlines the application process, including dates and deadlines. I realize it is my hope that people will find us and go through the process in the orderly way we have outlined for them, that they will inquire, take a tour, apply, send transcript release forms and teacher recommendation forms to their child’s current school, and sign up for a visiting day. It is a linear process with steps and instructions, well designed to make the process of admission clear for families to follow.

I had the wakeup call I needed when I answered a phone call this week from a father looking for spots for his two children. I told him that my month was quite busy with interviews and playdates but that I could give him a quick tour of the school. I asked him what his availability was for the following week, and he replied that his wife was having her next chemotherapy appointment that week and wondered if we could schedule for the week after so she would be able to attend. My heart sank upon hearing this news and it humbled me into reality – not the reality that I want in my admissions process, but the reality that we never know what families are going through in their lives, lives are not linear, they are often messy and complicated. Of course, this father didn’t know anything about the process…his family is going through trauma.

The application process can add a great deal of stress to the already overwhelming aspects of people’s lives. Families need grace and accommodation.

Independent schools boast, and for good reason, about their communities of welcome. I am glad I answered the call, to remind me that our number one priority is to respond to everyone who inquires, whether they are early or late to the process, with kindness and grace; this is the first example to prospective families that they are joining a caring community. So the next time you get that late inquiry, breathe deep before you answer the call – you may be helping a family who needs the grace and care that our schools provide and they may end up being the “perfect match!”

And perhaps keep this quote from Anne Lamott in mind: "I do not at all understand the mystery of grace - only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us."

Marianne Ryan

Marianne Ryan
Director of Enrollment Management
Clairbourn School