Post #3: What We’ve Learned. Getting In.

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This is a perfect time of the year to begin to research independent schools. To be truthful, the earlier you start the better. Kick it off with a complimentary 30-minute RIISE consultation, and attend various Spring admission events.

Having spent over a decade in an independent school and through the observations of others with RIISE, we’ve learned that ‘getting in’ is never really fair or equal. If you stare at it long enough you’ll begin to observe the harsh realities. But, don’t be disheartened, push ahead with confidence. It is worth it. Just keep in mind that the real competition is not an individual, per se, but a system that must thrive.

In its short run at Lincoln Center, the satirical play, Admissions promotes nervous laughter from a mainly white audience, who observe an all-white cast offer a safer space to decry the pernicious influence of race and class.

Ironically, the features that make an independent school desirable are the ones that make it tough to get in. For example, small class sizes narrow the chances of getting in. Other desired features like access to leading and innovative curriculum, resources, faculty, impressive physical space, and college prep, present another barrier to entry, cost.

Although independent schools offer significant financial aid awards to attract capable, talented and high-achieving students whose families could not afford it otherwise, it is not enough to create equitable and inclusive communities. There are families of color that do not need financial support to attend an independent school. But, as a result of other historic and systemic injustices, most do.

The intersections of race, wealth gaps, and the high cost of tuition challenge equity and inclusion at independent schools. School missions appear to be meritocratic, but privilege often prevails.

We are lured by the promise of academic and future successes, so we persist by investing our cultural and financial capital in predominantly white, pK-12, institutions to help secure better social and economic outcomes for generations to come. Independent schools are flawed but overall they are transformative spaces that most families of color don’t regret.

Perhaps, the opinions in yesterday’s Sunday Review, How To Level The College Playing Field, can transform independent schools too.

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