“But if we move to a part of the world we don’t know at all, how will we find a school for the kids? How will we know which is the best one for them? We have to get it right!”
When a parent is offered a compelling professional opportunity that will require a move, often their most significant concern is identifying a school for their children. In this new series, which we are calling Bennett Confidential, we will share true stories of real families who embraced a move to a new community, highlighting their unique challenges and offering insight into how the support of an expert, professional education consultant (and we know a few of the best) can help ensure the optimal outcome. All family and consultant names are fictitious to protect the privacy of the individuals involved.
Case # 1: The Grant Family
Charlotte Grant, a corporate executive, was living in northern New Jersey with her husband Jake and daughter Emma when she was offered a position in San Francisco. Emma was a sophomore at an excellent private school where she was thriving and happy, making the timing of a move seem less than ideal. Charlotte and Jake decided that if they relocated, they would want Emma to continue in a private school setting where she could pursue her academic, athletic, and creative interests. An online search of prospective schools did little to address their lack of knowledge about the private school landscape in the San Francisco area. Outreach to colleagues and friends in the area yielded a list of six private schools that sounded promising, but all were highly selective and likely fully subscribed. Not only that, it was spring; Charlotte and Jake knew that this meant that the application deadlines had long since passed. Would any school even be willing to consider Emma? If they did, what admissions testing would be required? And, to further complicate matters, Emma would be entering her junior year; private schools are often reluctant to admit a student to grade 11. Even if she was accepted, would Emma be able to complete the graduation requirements? Everyone was feeling deeply anxious and stressed, and the prospect of managing an admission process from 3000 miles away seemed overwhelming.
Carolina, Bennett’s consultant, who is locally based in northern California, reached out to the family immediately upon being assigned the case, and scheduled a time for a detailed intake call. Always the first step when a new case is initiated, this conversation centers on the student’s learning profile, their strengths and areas of interest, as well as any areas of challenge, and includes a discussion of the culture and curricula of the local schools. Within 24 hours of the initial conversation with the family, Carolina had reached out to all of the schools the family was prioritizing. Leveraging her excellent relationships with school personnel, she advocated on behalf of Emma, resulting in the willingness of four programs to accept late applications. Carolina organized school visits, working around Charlotte’s complex and busy schedule. She supported the family as they completed the applications and advised them on admissions testing. Finally, she prepared Emma, Charlotte, and Jake for the school interviews, visits, and tours so that they were all able to navigate those processes with confidence and ease.
The Grant family was thrilled to receive offers of admission to three of their preferred schools: San Domenico, Woodside Priory and Santa Catalina.
“Thank you very much for your efforts,” Charlotte told Carolina. “On behalf of my husband and daughter, we very much appreciate the advice and support through the entire process. We feel strongly that your contributions and attention to detail made all the difference.”
There are hundreds of stories in the files of Bennett Confidential. This has been one of them. Stay tuned for more.
By Annemiek Young, from Sara Schmidt's case notes
Annemiek Young, former Bennett Education Consultant, Director of Private Client Relations Emeritus, and good friend , is a regular contributor to our blog.
Sara R. Schmidt is the Director of Business Development & Client Relations, Co-Director of Private Client Services and a Senior Education Consultant for Bennett International, based in Seattle. As a member of an internationally mobile family, Sara has navigated the school search process for her own children on three continents, finding the right fit for them in public, private and international schools. She is very familiar, therefore, with the anxieties and hurdles faced by parents relocating their children around the world, and her work is informed by her own extensive experience. Sara serves as Trustee and was President of the Bellevue Schools Foundation in Bellevue, WA, and is a member of Pacific Northwest Relocation Council and Bay Area Mobility Management. She holds a B.A. Ed., Summa Cum Laude, from Wheaton College and an M.A. in Public Administration from Harvard Kennedy School and is also fluent in Spanish.
Over the years, Bennett International Education Consultancyhas worked with hundreds of corporations across the globe, many of them Fortune 500 companies, providing domestic and international school advisement & placement services - preschool through university - to the dependents of relocating employees. In addition to education placement, our team provides customized consulting for corporations with a range of education issues: education policy writing & benchmarking, tuition studies, group move advisement & planning, and remote education solutions.