Parent Statements For Private High School Admissions

Christopher Coleman

Parent Statements For Private High School Admissions

When writing Parent Statements for private high school admissions, you must remember: you’re not writing your child’s resumé. For the purposes of this article, pretend that you are no longer a parent of a boarding school applicant. Instead, you are a boarding school admissions officer. Your job is to review applications and identify the applicants that are the best fit for your school from a large applicant pool. As a boarding school admission officer, you will read each page of every single admission application, which is standard operating procedure. 

In reviewing admission applications, you will read Parent Statements for private high school admissions. They will, hopefully, provide you with further information about the applicant. See, teacher recommendations primarily describe an applicant from an academic perspective. Transcripts will paint the picture of how much care the applicant puts into his or her studies. An activity list will explain how the applicant spends time outside of the classroom. What completes the applicant’s profile is information about them from the parents’ perspective, a unique vantage point that can provide very important information…or not.

As an admissions officer, Parent Statements can influence you in one of three ways: excite you, frustrate or bore you, or make little impression on you at all. 

What Should Entail Parent Statements for Private High School Admissions?

For whatever it’s worth, I am the parent of a child who is both a boarding school graduate and a college graduate. I have experienced both sides of the admission process, so I know the position in which you are in currently. 

Now, you might be thinking, “How can Parent Statements be anything but helpful and wonderful as they are written by kind, caring, and loving parents who only seek to support their children’s candidacies, Christopher?” In composing Parent Statements for private high school admissions, the writers  are only being, well, parents. More often than not, though, a parent’s point of view might come off as too promotional or lacking in objective insights. Translation: parents embody the statement made famous by Malcom X in that they wish to help their children gain admission to a school “by any means necessary,” touting their child as the second coming of Marie Curie, Serena Williams, or Stephen King. In reality, even though they are written with good intentions, these types of Parent Statements hurt their child’s application the most.

Let’s be honest. Parent Statements rarely make or break the success or failure of an admission application. Only in very rare cases has an applicant been accepted or denied admission solely based on the weight of a Parent Statement. So, it is best for parents to provide honest and objective information that will determine what kind of impact your child could make if he or she were to join that school’s community. 

Examples of Parent Statements

With that said, we’ll use the prompt and Parent Statement copied below as a sample for what ingredients should go into successful Parent Statements for private high school admissions.

Prompt: Please share with us the values you've instilled in your child and how our community might benefit from those values/lessons.

Response: We’ve taught our son Jimmy the value of volunteering and that not only does it benefit others, but that volunteering can also be a benefit to himself. Following our suggestion, Jimmy chose to volunteer on Saturdays at our neighborhood’s community center. He tutors younger kids in math and science. While the community center director has explained to my husband and me that Jimmy seems to be in a “happy place” whenever he tutors. The director also pointed out that Jimmy has a lot of fun interacting with the other children. My husband and I also noticed an increase in Jimmy’s grades since he started volunteering. You know what they say, the best way to learn is to teach.

Even more, Jimmy has also found that helping others is a practical way to further his own interests. During summer break, Jimmy loves to go fishing, but knows that he cannot go to the lake behind our house without being accompanied by an adult. My husband and I work during the day Monday through Friday and have lots of chores and errands on the weekends. So in previous summers, we have not had much time to take Jimmy fishing. To solve this issue, Jimmy taught his grandmother how to fish and goes fishing with her almost every day!

Experiencing firsthand the benefits of helping out others has made a positive impact on Jimmy’s life. My husband and I believe that as a student at your school, Jimmy would be likely to join or supervise a community service project or choose to become a peer tutor.  

Assessing the Example

Using the above example, here is how you, as an admission officer, should assess it:

  • Clean writing. There are no spelling or grammar errors and the sentences should flow together. You should expect to compose several drafts for each of your Parent Statements. Take the time in between each draft so that you read each draft with a fresh perspective. 
  • Answer the prompt. In directly answering the prompt, the Parent Statement provided a load of information about Jimmy. It pays for parents to brainstorm their child’s positive personality traits prior to responding to each prompt. These descriptors can act as a guide and give direction to the answer.
  • No GPAs or academic accolades were found in this response.   I understand being proud of a child’s academic performance as a parent. However, the admissions officer will gain an understanding of that through academic transcripts and recommendations. Your job is to give further perspective on your child. Jimmy’s grades improved as a result of his behavior, but the grades themselves were not included.
  • Tell a story…but not a novel. First and foremost, everyone likes a good story. Why do you think we watch movies and read books? The above example provides insight into Jimmy’s personality and his character. His academics have improved since becoming a tutor. He derives joy from helping and interacting with other children. He likes to fish. His family has set rules that Jimmy follows. One also learns that Jimmy is a problem-solver and has a positive relationship with family members from older generations. Lastly, by teaching his grandmother to fish, he now can participate in an activity he enjoys. The implication in all of this is that, if accepted, these are the qualities that Jimmy has to offer any school.
  • Having a sense of humor helps.  Two key points to consider when composing Parent Statements:
    • Parent Statements do not have to be as dry as legal documents or tax forms or be as tedious to read as assembly directions for an Ikea dresser. Adding interesting details or humor to a Parent Statement will benefit its readability.
    • Imagine a stack of Parent Statements stretching from your living room’s floor to its ceiling. As you are still reading this article, you are still an admissions officer. If your school requires each applicant’s parents to write five Parent Statements and during the course of an admission cycle you need to read 853 or more admission applications, you might just end up reading thousands of Parent Statements. From that perspective, you become quite eager to read Parent Statements that neither bore you, are majorly hyperbolic nor leave you with little to no insights into the applicant.

I hope that this blog has provided you with the basics towards building great Parents Statements for private high school admissions. When writing them, remember to think like an admission officer and not as a parent. If you were reviewing an admission application, what kind of Parent Statements would you find enjoyable to read and most insightful into an applicant’s personality? Did the Parent Statement you wrote meet those two criteria?

My best advice to you: Parent Statements are only meant to tell the parents’ side of a child’s story, not all of it. Put the care and attention into telling your side of your child’s story and do it well, leaving a positive impression.

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