Applying to school is pretty much the same as applying to Hogwarts, Harry Potter’s famed academy. Except the wizard stuff. And the physical inaccessibility. And the standardized tests. And, let’s face it, the interview really isn’t much like a convention of wizened sorcerers sitting behind a marble table. And while there may be one or two Dumbledores on campus, there really isn’t any Voldemort and the houses don’t cast spells on each other (if there are houses at all, which there probably aren’t). So applying to schools is almost exactly applying to Hogwarts — except for all the actual application stuff.

Kidding aside, many years of helping students apply to schools has yielded an important truism: An effective counseling approach isn’t about giving families the right answers. Rather, it’s about helping families to ask the right questions to get to their own answers, making their search a learning experience for everybody involved.

Consider these questions that are often on the minds of applicants and their families:

  • What’s with information sessions and tours? Do we have to attend one before our child applies?
  • Can a student apply after school starts in the fall?
  • Which admission tests should my child take?
  • My child has already taken some standardized tests. Can I use those instead?
  • I know a board member/teacher/influential parent at a school we’re interested in. Can that help my child’s chances for admission?
  • Most schools ask for two recommendations. Is it okay to submit more?
  • Which teachers should write recommendations?
  • Should I waive my rights to see my child’s teacher recommendations?
  • Is there anything in the process that counts more than other things?
  • My child has a learning disability. Can he or she get into any schools?
  • Do schools consider AD/HD a learning disability?
  • My child had a psycho-educational (or “neuro-psych”) evaluation. Should we submit the results?
  • My child and/or family represents a minority group. Can that affect the process?
  • What happens during a school visit?
  • What should my child wear to a visit and interview?
  • What will schools ask a student during an interview?
  • What will schools ask a parent during an interview?
  • Wait — there’s a parent interview?!

Reasonable people can provide different answers to some of those questions. But a reasonable approach also means understanding the range of “reasonable,” and helping families to understand the various ways information can be interpreted and put to use.

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