The boarding school application mainly comprises of information about the student. In other words, most of the forms, essays, recommendations, etc. are expected to be written by or on behalf of the students themselves. However, there is one thing that isn’t. That is the parent Statement, so-called the parent essays.
The parent essays are a written form of 4-5 questions, asking the parents of the applicants to share their knowledge and observation throughout the years. Many boarding schools in their application request it, and the reason is simple. The applicants are simply too young to share every noteworthy aspect of their lives. As 14-15 year olds, the perspective of an adult who walked alongside their journey to adolescence is helpful to the eyes of the admission office: a chance to determine their upbringing, academic background, and character. In fairness, the household environment and the parent’s guidance are one of the most influential aspects of what makes the children who they are.
Before we begin on the know-hows of responding to the parent statement, here are some of the questions you can expect:
1. Please describe your child’s academic strengths and weaknesses.
2. Please describe your child’s personal strengths and weaknesses.
3. For boarding applicants: After reading our materials and learning about Exeter, how do you think your child will adapt to the challenges of living away from home in a dormitory?
4. Is there anything else you would like us to know about your child?
To complete the parent statement in the most helpful way, we must first consider the kind of applications boarding schools want. In this case, the relevant adjectives are independent and hard-working leaders. That being said, the preferred parenthood and the parent-child should be children centered. In any academic, extracurricular, or personal endeavors, the child should be the one leading the effort, driven by curiosity. The ideal parents’ job would be the “nudge” and “support.” The nudge would be observing the children from a step behind and giving a word of advice, especially when they encounter a challenge. For example, let’s say they started a small research project on Mesopotamian Warfare but is struggling to find good sources. A nudge would be sitting them down and going over some possible list of books and websites with them. Support is creating and maintaining an environment in which the children can commit to their work, such as driving them to hockey practice, listening to the child’s instrument repertoire at the moment, or being their dance partner.
The central question and the main struggle of these parent statements is “how do we show the above qualities?” The answer is through episodes. Your child probably has and will hear this phrase a lot in their educational career: “show not tell.” This saying also applies to parent statements. Show your children’s qualities through episodes and let the admission officers be the judge. They are extremely experienced and talented in extracting the qualitative aspects of a child through stories. Episodes are far more convincing than simply telling, “my child is an independent, intellectually curious leader.”To do this, I suggest you start by going through some old pictures of your child to refresh the moments of their upbringing. You don’t need a lot, three to four will suffice.
Lastly, make sure the parent statement relays a different facet of the student from their own essays and other application materials. Specifically, there is no need to emphasize the student’s particular academic accomplishments or general strengths, like how talented they are at math. Instead, focus on qualities that only you know or see as a parent, like how they are so obsessed with Poetry that they asked you to buy 16 series of Emily Dickinson’s short poem collections.
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