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April 2009 Archives

The Benefits of Girls Schools: now on to longitudinal studies

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are single gender schools good for girlsHuffington Post contributor Susan Sawyers also posted some thoughts about the National Coalition of Girls Schools study confirming benefits for girls in single gender schools (Are Single Sex Schools Good for Girls?). While nothing earth shattering, her comments are an interesting, "yes, but..."Clearly, single gender education cultivates some benefits. Is it a panacea? No. The complexity requires more research.

"...But the question remains, however, if these seemingly confident public-speaking women will be able to express themselves in the workforce, in the company of men and around the boardroom table. First they have to get there. This leaves room for further studies that look at women's aspirations and accomplishments after they complete college or graduate school. It would be good to generate some numbers for women twenty or thirty years out of high school. You go girls, no matter where you are, we are cheering for you."

To read our post, visit: "Lasting Power of Girls Schools: more than anecdotal"
Admission professionals have been telling us the same story throughout the school year. Applications and inquiries are steady. Financial aid requests are up.

Using interviews at a few schools and with the National Association of Independent Schools, the New York Daily News ran a piece (Private schools see more financial aid requests during recession - but applications hold steady) documenting this exact situation.

Families are making tuition a priority and schools are increasing their fund raising efforts and aid budgets. Everyone in the school business seems to be exhaling deeply that we've made it though this year. But, if things say like they are next year, too, will be tough.

Chris Seeley, upper school admissions director at the Trevor School in Manhattan told the Daily News:

"We are tightening the belt...We are bracing for the possibility that we may have fewer students next year. But we are trying to cut the budget without affecting programs, and we haven't been forced to do any major tightening yet."

Kents Hill School Cuts Ribbon on New Performing Arts Center

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Kents Hill School recently cut the ribbon celebrating the conversion and transformation of their former Newton gym into the Performing Arts Center in Newton Hall. A multipurpose gathering and performing arts facility the Center includes the Vivian Russell Theater "where Morning Meeting will be held, visiting lectures and presentations will be hosted, and, of course, Kents Hill's theater troupe and musical groups will perform."

The Center also features music practice facilities, visual art gallery space and a recording studio

While the first phase is complete, work on phase two continues. 

"The refit will see the second part of the building's new lobby completed, permanent theater seating installed, a stage manager's booth added, a permanent video projector for presentations and movies, and lighting and sound systems for the stage."
Many thanks to Kents Hill School's communications office for providing the photos below:

If you believe in a boarding or independent school and you can afford to make a financial contribution, give now. Independent schools- just as colleges and universities- are working through endowment decreases and pressure. With increased financial aid demand, creating an even greater strain on institutional savings and finances.

If independent school is part of your or your family's nature and you can do it, make sure to make any gift possible this year.

The New York Times recently ran a piece titled "Colleges Ask Donors to Help Meet Demand for Aid." The higher ed situation and independent school situations are similar.

"Faced with one of the most challenging fund-raising environments anyone can remember, colleges and universities are appealing to donors to help meet the swelling demand for financial aid...

The incoming student body for the fall of 2009 will have higher financial needs than in the past," said Clay Ballantine, Hampshire's chief advancement officer. "I tell donors these are excellent students and we want to take financial concerns out of their decision-making process, and we're looking to you to provide a gift that will help us do that."

Photo credit: vanhookc

Some Interesting Good News: Knox and St. Bede working to grow

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We realized that we've published two posts last week about schools that are building dormitories and/or working to expand their boarding populations this week. While not a silver lining, nor confirmation that everything is rosy, it's great to find two schools well positioned and so dedicated to boarding that they're building dorms and working to expand opportunities for families and students seeking boarding school.

St. Bede Academy Returns To Boarding Roots: A commitment to build two new dormitories


Knox School Wakes From Slumber with Ambition and a Plan

Ross School Offers Merit Scholarships

File this under the 'fantastic opportunity' category.

Ross School in Bridgehampton, NY "is offering $20,000 annual Merit Scholarships for students in grades 5-11 who demonstrate academic achievement and exceptional promise" in a number of areas.

Have a demonstrated talent for the Arts, Athletics, Community Service, Math, Media, Music (Jazz), Science, or Theater? This may be an opportunity to explore if you answered yes to any one of these categories.

I heard about this a bit late in the day (I read about it in the Independent Educational Consultants Association April/May Insights newsletter)- the deadline is May 1 and applications received post-May 1 will be reviewed on a rolling basis.

If you're interested, you can learn more on the school's site or submit an inquiry to school's admission office through their AQ admission inquiry form.

With new head of school George Alison at the helm, The Knox School is focusing its mission and looking to grow its current student population by 40 over the next few years- to about 170 from its current 130 students.

Jennifer Lawrence joined the Knox board of trustees and set to realizing the schools potential by connecting with the surrounding region. Building and refurbishment programs began; a marketing campaign; and, the school rededicated itself to preparing students for college.

Allison, who brings with him 23 years at Perkiomen School (PA), told Newsday (Knox School in St. James to open a new chapter), "We've got great faculty, fantastic kids...We need to get our name out there."

Photo credit: The Knox School
Peter drew attention to this on AQ's twitter account the other day and I thought I'd follow up with a mention here.

The National Park Service, United States Department of the Interior approved listing the Olney Friends School campus on the National Register. The buildings date from the late 19th century and feature local materials.

Head of School Rich Sidwell told the Intelligencer/Wheeling News Register:

"Students and teachers at Olney are proud of the honor bestowed on the school by the National Park Service...We will do all we can to preserve the historic character of the campus, while maintaining an atmosphere where students develop and learn."
St. Bede Academy- a small Benedictine Catholic school in Peru, IL- broke ground this past Monday on a new building that will house female boarding students beginning with the 2009-2010 academic year. 

Reclaiming its boarding mission, St. Bede reopened its boarding department boarding department with the 2007-2008 school year, with four girls and eight boys living in leased residences. St. Bede boarded boys boarding school from 1892 through 1981 and has been coeducational since 1973.

Rev. Claude Peifer told the school's public relations office:

"St. Bede Academy is responding to a renewed interest in providing opportunities for boarding students on a small scale, and so we are providing housing on campus for this purpose. We hope that the boarding students will profit by living on campus because they will thus be able to participate more fully in the activities of the academy."
A second boys dormitory is in the works although no timetable has been set.

The expanded boarding program reaches back into the school's roots, providing boarding school opportunities to a new generation of students.

Rev. Peifer added:

"We hope that some of our boarding-school alumni who have fond memories of their years at St. Bede will enable their children to profit by the opportunity to enjoy a similar academic and living experience in a 21st-century context."
Traditional  boarding tuition looks to be a great boarding school bargain with  seven day tuition, room, and board St. Bede totaling $23,000 annually.

Read the article from The Daily Times of Ottawa.


Highlighted in the current National Coalition of Girls' Schools newsletter is a UCLA study confirming the lasting affects of a girls school education on graduates. I find the most interesting aspect of the study coming from its longitudinal view. Alumnae seem to carry and benefit from their girls school experiences deep into college and graduate work. I'd love to know if girls school alumnae and their coeducation alumnae ever gain equal education footing? Just how deep into life do these advantages carry?

Interesting work.

"According to the UCLA report, which was commissioned by the National Coalition of Girls' Schools, girls' school graduates consistently assess their abilities, self-confidence, engagement and ambition as either above average or in the top 10 percent. Compared to their coed peers, they have more confidence in their mathematics and computer abilities and study longer hours. They are more likely to pursue careers in engineering, engage in political discussions, keep current with political affairs, and see college as a stepping stone to graduate school...

    (Skipping over data conclusions)

As the UCLA study points out, girls' schools graduates rate themselves more successful and engaged in precisely those areas in which male students have historically surpassed them - mathematics, computers, engineering, and politics. The findings may undermine opponents of girls' schools, who argue that single-sex education accentuates sex-based stereotypes and widens the gender gap."
Julliard is putting its Music Advancement Program on indefinite hiatus with fundraising under pressure. The program will complete it second year obligation with current students but has canceled auditions and will add no new students this year. The Music Advancement Program brings music lessons to kids who don't normally have access to music training.

Professional pianist and Juilliard alumnus Ronen Segev told the New York Times (Juilliard Curtails Program That Serves Poor Children), "It's really heartbreaking... it means a lot to these kids."(NYT)

Joseph W. Polisi, Juilliard's president, likens the strategy to pruning so that the plant will bloom with new growth and life during the next spring explaining to the NYT:

"I was the guy who started it 20 years ago, and I believe deeply in it...It's an extremely important part of me and Juilliard'... Mr. Polisi said he hoped to raise money to restart the program, on a smaller scale, in two years."
April 7th marked the 40th anniversary of Requests for Comments or RFC. In "How the Internet Got Its Rules," in the New York Times, Stephen D. Crocker  recounts the fluidity as the World Wide Web became codified. RFC's are the technical working papers that worked through and created internet standards and protocols that allowed different machines and languages to communicate. It's a fascinating story.

"After all, everyone understood there was a practical value in choosing to do the same task in the same way. For example, if we wanted to move a file from one machine to another, and if you were to design the process one way, and I was to design it another, then anyone who wanted to talk to both of us would have to employ two distinct ways of doing the same thing. So there was plenty of natural pressure to avoid such hassles. It probably helped that in those days we avoided patents and other restrictions; without any financial incentive to control the protocols, it was much easier to reach agreement.

This was the ultimate in openness in technical design and that culture of open processes was essential in enabling the Internet to grow and evolve as spectacularly as it has. In fact, we probably wouldn't have the Web without it..." (NYT)
The article leaves me with a powerful lasting thought- openness and transparency.  

"As we rebuild our economy, I do hope we keep in mind the value of openness, especially in industries that have rarely had it. Whether it's in health care reform or energy innovation, the largest payoffs will come not from what the stimulus package pays for directly, but from the huge vistas we open up for others to explore."
The Internet makes AdmissionsQuest and our work with families possible and it's opened and continues opening new ways of communicating and connecting the boarding school world.  YouTube and Podcasting didn't exist when we started.

Openness and transparency foster new ideas, great creative thinking and healthy relationships and these are also the foundations of great boarding schools.


Although geared for college admission, one recent New York Times article and a new blog on their site provide some good thinking and advice- parts of which are applicable to private school admission.

The article first- "Paying in Full as the Ticket Into Colleges," lays plain for all to see that, with tight financial aid offerings colleges are accepting more students whose families can pay in full. This has always been the case at or near the bottom of college applicant pools, but the practice is creeping further up the ladder into the realm of highly qualified applicants.

As we've always argued, you can increase your aid opportunities by applying to a school in which your abilities and desires place you toward the top end of the applicant pool.

The Choice: Demystifying College Admissions and Aid is a new NYT blog exploring college admission and financial aid through the voices of students and professionals. Even though it's geared toward college admission, the issues, experiences and thinking are similar to private school admission. Keep in mind that college and private school admission are not the same.  I recommend it as a thought provoking read. You'll find some thinking and commentary applicable to private school admission.

Photo credit: Gwen's River City Images
I read a couple of articles over the past few days that, combined, provide a good pictures of the thinking, priorities and sacrifices that families are grappling with in their 'public or private' school decisions. With a generally more conservative outlook about future earnings and home equity gone as a banking option families are struggling mightily to reach the best decisions about schools.

Two articles provide insight into the two sides of the education coin:

The New York Times article, "The Sudden Charm of Public School," looks at family thinking and finances that underlie a migration into the public school system by families who previously assumed that private school would be their choice. The exact numbers are unspecific and anecdotal, but the number of families thinking through this process is clear.

In the current climate can we, and, should we send our kids to private school?

From the NYT article:

"There is no way of knowing just how many would-be or current private school parents are turning to the public schools. But there is no question that the city's public kindergartens are experiencing a groundswell of interest...

The growing undertow from private to public emphasizes just how desperate some families have become.

Moving your kid out of private school is usually one of the last things to go," said Kathy M. Braddock, a partner at Charles Rutenberg Realty. "You give up vacations and cars and take away summer camp first.

But I hear people evaluating everything now. I know lawyers who have been laid off, Wall Street people, the Madoff victims. These are people who never thought they would be in a financial situation where they would have to start making certain choices.

...saying you're interested in sending your kids to public schools used to be a taboo among a certain group of people....Now it's actually kind of cool and in vogue."
The NYC Private Schools Blog paints the opposing view. In a post titled, "Private School Not a Luxury to Most," the author paints a picture of the willingness of parents to prioritize and sacrifice for private education.

Much of the article comes from a Wisconsin Rapids Tribune article looking at one mom's desire and willingness to sacrifice so that she can afford private school tuition and efforts of the area catholic schools to create aid and financing options. 

As Beckie Rogers told the Wisconsin Rapids Tribune:

"It's pretty much a given tuition rates go up every year...But as a parent, I prioritize and give up other things. This is a necessity for my family."
The reality of the public versus private equation in the current admission cycle lies somewhere in the middle. With no sound data, we don't know how many families will choose their public or private education options. We know for sure that economic stress has increased the value and importance of the public side of the equation. We know, with certainty, that uncertainty has private school admission officers working to demonstrate the value of the product and looking harder at their cost structures and aid and financing options than they have in quite some time.

Boarding School Podcast Sustainablity Series

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In light of the economic downturn, school sustainability and adaptive strategies have been hot topics for a number of months. No one is spared from the realities of a shrinking economy- schools, families, students- we're all impacted.

To encourage a conversation about the options available to families and schools, AQ's Boarding School Podcast hosted a four part sustainability series featuring leaders in the private school world. Each interview provides history, current thinking and insights regarding adapting for the future. I encourage you to listen and share.

Boarding School Podcast: Sustainability Series

Boarding Schools Adapting To A Changing Environment
Pete Upham, Executive Director, The Association of Boarding Schools

The Value of Working with an Educational Consultant in a Tight Economic Climate
Mark Sklarow, Executive Director, Independent Educational Consultants Association

Exploring School Sustainability Directions & Ideas with Patrick Bassett, President, National Association of Independent Schools
Patrick Bassett, President of the National Association of Independent Schools

Approaching Financial Aid in an Economic Downturn
Martin Peyer, CEO, TADS & Jamie Miller, Director of Financial Aid, Blue Ridge School

Heading 'necessity is the mother of invention,' Pingree School's Trevor Leahy set his mind to recouping any advantage that he could achieve within the rules. Hockey rules recently mandated smaller sizes for hockey net minder pads. While the offensively minded thought this a great idea (goalie pads were starting to cover far too much of the net face), goalies, like Trevor, were miffed asking why should the net-minders give-up their advantages?

If a skater can tape his stick blade with black tape in order to hide the puck, Treavor reasoned, I should be able to paint and design my pads with the design of the goal net so as to confuse skaters about the edges of my pads.

A patent application and a deal with Stomp Manufacturing later, and the GoalieFlage is a reality.

There's no way to measure the effectiveness of the design, but one teammate tells the New York Times (Against Goalie Trevor Leahy, It's Nothing but Net) that he finds the design effective by disorienting his shooting.

As for Trevor, he's now pondering a career in sports marketing or design.  As he told the Times:

"It would be unbelievable to get some kind of job out of this...I would love to get my stuff out there and then see other kids wearing it and think, wow, I designed that." (NYT)
Let's hope the hockey powers-that-be don't send Teavor's creative thinking the way of the A-11 football offense or Steve Avery's antics.  Creativity makes the game fun.
I often look at the touted promises of the 'next' technology with a jaundiced eye. This is technology put to great, direct, effective use.

The Washington, DC area chapter of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society has provided  Georgetown University Hospital's pediatric oncology program with six laptops and webcams that hospitalized students use to follow lessons and stay connected to their classrooms and lessons.

Becky Wilson, a leukemia patient, follows along with her classmates at Jamestown Elementary School.  She told the Washington Post (Webcams Allow Students to Stay Connected: Thanks to Donated Gear, Even Serious Illnesses Aren't Keeping Some Children Out of the Classroom) that "she has been able to join her first-grade class almost every morning in solving math problems, listening to poetry and working on group projects."

Lisa Wilson, Becky's mom, also told the Washington Post: "She's a very bright child...The webcam really just adds that extra dimension that she misses."

Aziza Shad, Georgetown's pediatric oncology director added:

"Having this technology available is really a turning point for children with cancer and other serious illnesses...They miss their teachers. They miss their friends. These laptops with webcams provide a perfect way for them to participate in a lesson and stay connected with their school." (Washington Post)
Photo credit: mshades

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This page is an archive of entries from April 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

March 2009 is the previous archive.

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