“Intangibles” are components of an application that count, but that an applicant and family probably can’t affect much. Here’s an overview of the “intangibles”:

  • Learning needs
    Needs range from those that affect learning directly (e.g., dyslexia or receptive language compromises) to those that are a part of a student’s profile but have an indirect effect on learning (e.g., AD/HD or anxiety). We know much more about different ways people learn than we did even ten years ago. Still, all other things being equal, a less complex student profile is generally preferable to a more complex one.
  • Diversity
    Twenty years ago, diversity was often a topic on the “nice, but not necessary” list. Not so anymore. Now diversity is seen as an essential element in an effective education, and almost every DC-area school seeks a rich diversity of almost every kind among both students and parents.
  • Parents’ specialties
    Skills sought by most schools: law, marketing, technology, finance. A history of volunteering can be helpful. Past chairing of a successful auction is an automatic admission! (Not really, but it can’t hurt!)
  • Family resources
    Ability to pay, unfortunately, counts. The later in the admission season, the more true this is.
  • Family connections
    Knowing influential members of a school community can help — but only if you play it right. Over-claiming a connection or appearing too entitled to special treatment can count against an applicant.
  • Fit
    Schools want to know that their families share a basic commitment to the school’s mission and its approach. They do not expect parents to march in lock-step, or to agree with every decision, but they are understandably wary of families who do not subscribe to their philosophical underpinnings. If you think grades are an important aspect of classroom work, don’t apply to a progressive school; if you want your child to wear sweatpants, don’t enroll in a school where the girls wear plaid skirts.

To read about the “tangible” parts of an application, please visit this page.

To see what others say about how Peter works with families during the search process, visit the Reviews page.