It’s admissions season once again, and parents around New York City are gearing up for an intense, months-long journey. The admissions process for private schools in New York involves many steps; read more about preparing for the entire process here. But in the fall, one of the first steps for families to begin focusing on is parent statements.
Many parents find parent statements challenging to write: how can you possibly encapsulate your child’s entire personality and how much you adore them into a few paragraphs? But much like any writing project, developing a parent statement gets easier once you sit down and get started.
We recommend that all parents begin by drafting a general statement about their child. Most schools ask for an essay that boils down to “Tell us about your child,” though the specific wording of prompts might differ. So, it’s always a good idea to start by developing a general response first, then repurposing bits and pieces of that general template into more specific responses for other prompts. This advice applies to both the general “Tell us about your child” prompt, and also the “What are you looking for in a school / What type of school environment is a good fit for your child / Why are you applying to this school” prompt. The latter also lends well to starting with a general response and then customizing it later for each school.
How should you structure your parent statement? Below are the four elements we recommend including in any essay. But don’t forget that all of these parts should tie together; the four sections below should flow from one to the next and connect coherently. Your completed statement should paint a consistent, compelling, and authentic portrait of your child.
Once you’ve drafted a general parent statement that covers all of the key sections above, it’s time to begin customizing your statement to match the prompts for each specific school. We recommend creating a Google Doc to organize each school’s prompts and responses. Create a new page for each school, and paste in their prompts. Make sure to note any word or character counts.
After you’ve gathered all of the prompts in one place, review them all at once and notice how they compare. We recommend creating a color-coding system to group prompts into categories; for example, highlight in pink any prompts that relate to your child’s academic strengths, and use green for prompts about family life. Remember, your goal is to work smart, not hard: it’s very common for schools to ask the same questions in different words, so be efficient about repurposing the same segment of writing across multiple prompts.
Begin copy/pasting any elements of your general parent statement that fit for each individual prompt. From there, it’s time to brain dump: jot down thoughts, anecdotes, and bullet points that should be included in each response. Once you’ve finished this rough outlining process for all of the prompts for one school, take a look back on all of the essays put together to ensure you’ll touch on all of the key themes you want the school to know (and make sure there aren’t any redundancies).
The final step is probably the hardest: translating these snippets of writing and notes into full essays for each prompt. We’ve written elsewhere about our top tips to keep in mind when writing your final responses, but we’ll summarize them here: prioritize quality over quantity. Include plenty of anecdotes. Be honest and authentic. Make sure your essays are consistent with the rest of your child’s application. Don’t name-drop. Don’t overstate or embellish.
You’ll probably feel like a high school senior preparing college applications again, but we promise that you’ll feel very accomplished once you finish drafting your parent statements! Looking for even more parent statement guidance? Check out our full sample parent statement here to read a high-quality example that exemplifies all of the tips above.
Struggling to compose parent statements that capture your child’s unique personality and strengths? We’re here to help.