A campus tour checklist for parents – F…

A campus tour checklist for parents -

For years, I have worked with parents of troubled teens and struggling teens as they have searched for therapeutic boarding schools. This is one of the most difficult decisions parents make on behalf of their child and their family. It has significant implications not only for the immediate future, but long into adulthood. Finding the right program can be daunting, given the many options, subtle differences between programs, and the marketing that schools and programs have in place to draw prospective parents. The evaluation process necessarily entails a degree of discernment and care that is often difficult since the decision is often being made in the face of crisis. Parents experience a myriad of emotions — frustration, fear, disappointment, anger, hopelessness — none of which are good for making informed, well reasoned and thought-out decisions.

After reviewing a school’s website and admissions packet, and speaking with admissions personnel, parents need to make the all-important campus visit to learn first-hand whether the school is appropriately equipped to meet their child’s needs.

My experience has been that many parents are not well prepared for this campus tour, and understandably so. Most parents have not had the experience of evaluating and choosing a therapeutic school environment, and thus do not know what to look for or how to discern aspects of a school that make it right or wrong for their child. In addition, there is usually so much emotion associated with the process that the evaluation is sometimes based on an emotional reaction rather than the merits of the school.

My hope in writing this is to provide parents with a checklist — a list of important and necessary things to look for, questions to ask, and mistakes to avoid when touring a campus. The list is developed not only from my experience as the director of admissions at a therapeutic boarding school, but also as a clinician who has visited over 100 schools and programs. From both sides of the table, I have experienced the challenge of not only learning and understanding programs, but in accurately representing them as well.

Although this information is copyright protected, permission is granted to parents to copy and use as they begin to visit schools and programs. I hope that it is helpful to you, and that it empowers you to more effectively engage and evaluate the schools you visit. I value any additional items that could be added to make the checklist more thorough. I invite you to email me your ideas at jbrain@thefamilyschool.com

Making the Most of Your On-campus Tour
A checklist for parents when visiting a therapeutic boarding school or similar program

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2 Responses to A campus tour checklist for parents – F…

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  2. Rina says:

    Hi Jeff,
    I am a stepmother of a 12 year old daughter. I love her but the battles are unbearable for her father and me and it also effects the way her brother, 7years old, lives as well. Her older brother has Leaukemia and she was brought up in many different family homes with all kinds os spoiling going on and inconsistent discipline and absolutely no structure until now. Her brother is 16 living with the grandmother and she is with myself and dad and younger brother. She has the classic signs of ODD. However, nobody has diagnosed her with such. I did after researching the entire net work and books and diagnoses that she was told she had helped me get to ODD> She was on many different medications, as she grew up and mom and dad stopped the medications since it made her more violent and out of control or a zombie. My question to you is what needs to be done? Their father is raising them on his own with no support from their natural mother and the bills are piling up since he only works as a truck driver when it is not raining, snowing etc Bad Weather. He then gets unemployment. There is no room for money to be spent on a boparding school. At her, she is considered ADHD and not on medication, she is on a list of kids with a learning disability. She admits that when worked with one on one she will listen and try to focus but otherwise will fight school and it’s efforts to helper. She has developed a very negative attitude towards everyone and everything. She does somewhat well with me, she averages A’s and B’s when study time with rolls around but fights me the whole way. She says horrible things to me and I am at my wits end, this is very discouraging and I want to give up since she attackes me, horribly! Please let me know if there is help for families that can get a scholorship to attend a boarding school. Thank you MS.RINA

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