What do Manhattan educational consultants and school advisors do? We speak to people about private schools. In 2010, I talked to hundreds of parents, students, teachers, administrators, and psychologists. Here’s the scoop in private school admissions trends:
- Competition for top private schools continues to be strong. Despite the economic pain in the country as a whole, Wall Street is doing well. Unless they're decamping for Bronxville, finance guys and gals are gunning for big name New York City private schools. They're also supporting lawyers, artists, plastic surgeons, and talk show hosts, whose children are also applying.
- ERB prep has become a way of life, whether it's a four year old or a high schooler. ERB prep books and tutors are hot, hot, hot and everybody knows it, including parents, reporters, preschool directors, and admissions directors. The ERB itself now has free prep material on its website, making a mockery out of its traditional “no prep” stance. Unsurprisingly, far more than 1% of the population is scoring in the 99th percentile. When scores disappoint, parents often turn to preschool directors or educational consultants for a retake.
- Changes in the New York City public schools continue to push many people who can afford it toward private. Many Manhattan and Brooklyn parents are so disgusted with the public schools—kindergarten admission to zoned NYC schools sometimes no longer guaranteed, prep for entrance into G & T, a schools chancellor picked from the publishing industry—that they’re seriously considering other options, like private school or Montclair.
- Unless it's Saint Ann's, which gets a parent pass thanks to its perceived college admissions clout, many New York parents are turning from more relaxed, developmental teaching philosophies to strongly preferring more skills-based, structured, traditional schools. There's a feeling that children need to learn to read and do math in kindergarten, especially at these prices.
- Kindergarten students seem taller lately. New York City private schools generally prefer older, more mature students. (How better to ensure that a child will succeed in kindergarten than to have him, in some cases, repeat the grade?) Parents, concerned by how high the bar is being raised, are more likely than ever to want to hold their child back.