Friday, October 12, 2007

First impressions

I am applying to schools for my daughter now. Someone had told me that I would be able to say a lot about the school based on their application. It is true, and quite honestly I am not impressed. In one school, they asked me so many questions just to mail me out the stupid form! So if they didn't like my maiden name, they wouldn't have sent me the application?

And then there are the applications themselves... Reading through them, one cannot but think that no one put much thought into the questions and no one is concerned that for most parents this is the first real encounter with the school. I guess nobody told them that first impressions really count. In my humble opinion, only questions that matter should appear on the form - if the question is not relevant in deciding whether the child gets to step 2 - the interview - why ask it? And if those questions are relevant, then quite frankly I would be disgusted. For example, why should it matter whether the child's parents are married/divorced/deceased? One school had only two options for the marital status of the parents: married or divorced/separated. What if a parent is widowed - need not apply? And then there are questions you would like to answer truthfully, but know that your application will be tossed if you do so, so you lie, pretty much just like most other applicants.

One application asks for the picture of my child. Why? Are they afraid I might sneak in a different child for the interview? Or do they run the picture through Interpol to make sure the 3-yr-old is not involved in any terrorist activity/drug smuggling/human trafficking? What's next - blood sample and fingerprints? And that particular school doesn't even guarantee you the interview, so what are they going to do with the pictures of kids who didn't get to that step? Post them on the Internet under the "Look at the losers who didn't merit an interview with our elite school"? And once again - does the picture help them in weeding out students not eligible for the interview? Do looks matter? Should I then go for the full disclosure and send my own picture as well, so that the school can decide ahead of time if they want a mug like that associated with their unblemished name?

The whole process would be extremely annoying (as opposed to just simply annoying) if not for one school, who simply did away with applications. They just take down your name, phone number and simply set up appointments to meet with prospective students. Just for that they have scored points in my book.

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