Beyond EMS: The Secondary School Application Process at The Elisabeth Morrow School

by Aaron Cooper
Assistant Head of School

Winter 2010

At Elisabeth Morrow, we are as committed to guidance as we are to providing an outstanding education.  The Secondary School application process is all about finding the right match for each of our students.  We encourage our students to play a more active role in their next academic steps.  Despite the anxiety and stress that inevitably accompanies this process, applying to secondary school is a wonderful learning opportunity for our thirteen- and fourteen-year-old students.  The high school search process assists in the development of self-knowledge, sense of identity and emerging interests; it is an invaluable time to establish student and parent goals, and measure the student’s character and preferences against available academic experiences in an effort to find an ideal “fit.” Fortunately, there are plenty of secondary school options available to students and families.  In the past four years, Elisabeth Morrow students have been accepted at sixty-nine different, exceptional high schools.  Of those sixty-nine schools, our students have enrolled in thirty-eight, as detailed on the next page.  
Applying to secondary school formally begins in the spring of the seventh-grade year when Elisabeth Morrow hosts the following events: a general orientation meeting, a parent panel consisting of graduates’ parents, and a secondary school fair consisting of admissions representatives from two dozen different schools.  Parents are also invited to meet individually with the Assistant Head of School, Mr. Cooper (who oversees the application process) during the seventh-grade spring or summer to speak specifically about their child and family, and to create a preliminary list of potential school “matches.”  
There is much for families to consider:  Public or private? Large school or small?  Urban or rural? Near, far, or somewhere in between? Religious or secular? Single sex or co-educational?  Boarding school or day school? What academic programs are offered? Are sports important? Are the arts important? What about college placement? Or technology? How about culture?  Communication is the key throughout the process.  In the eighth-grade year, Mr. Cooper is in regular contact with the families as they visit schools and trim to a final list of applications.  At the same time, we offer our students a once-a-week course, called Decisions, to assist them with aspects of the application process, such as interviewing skills, test-taking strategies, essay writing skills, and tips on managing the process.  Throughout the eighth-grade winter and early spring, students and families make their official choices.  

Where our Graduates Go:  Most Recent High School and College placements