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(While schools don't publicize their acceptance rates, "in some select schools, it can be as few as 5% of the number of families requesting applications," Shapiro says."In other schools—many of them very good, just not as well-known and prestigious—it may be 50%.") Part of her job is managing some crazy expectations about the admissions process.
For example, parents often want to know how well kids at a certain nursery school do on the Early Childhood Admissions Assessment, a standardized test administered by E. B.—an educational services organization—that some kindergartens take into consideration when making admissions decisions.
"Schools all stress that it is just one of several factors that go into admissions decisions," Shapiro says.
RELATED: Secret Co-Ops: One Mom Breaks the Law to Send Her Son to Preschool And then there's the issue of supply and demand: In New York, there are currently fewer slots at preschools than there are tiny pupils, so "getting in" to the more competitive schools becomes an issue—even for two-year-olds.
That's where a preschool admissions coach like Emily Shapiro comes in. Preschool in New York is “fairly consistently insanely expensive," says Shapiro, and parents there pay her to help them place their kid in the best school for them. Shapiro worked at the Columbus Park West Nursery School on New York City’s Upper West Side, as a teacher and as director of admissions, for 15 years.
“The most important thing to mention in application essays is real specifics about what you like about the school and why you think it's a good match for your family and your child," Shapiro says.
"The school needs to know you are really on board with its mission and share the core beliefs about children and how they learn." RELATED: Bringing Up Bebé: Do French Moms Know the Secret to Better-Behaved Kids? If you believe that, first of all, you have a really unnecessary escalated anxiety around the preschool thing." RELATED: How Can Expensive Daycare Save Us Money?Myth 3: If your kid doesn't get into the right preschool, game over. “The one thing I find the hardest to convince parents of is that preschool is not going to determine the ongoing school your child gets into. What a Good Coach Can Do Every exclusive club has its own lingo and traditions, and big-city preschools are no exception; a good preschool admissions coach can translate them for you.“Parents will ask me, ‘What is Montessori, really? But it's not all Montessori, there’s also Reggio Emilia and all the other philosophies, plus 'traditional' versus 'progressive,' play-based versus structured schools. Schools tend to describe themselves using this vocabulary, as if somehow parents are going to magically know what they’re talking about—or have some obligation to know what they’re talking about," Shapiro says. ” Great coaches also save time by clarifying what’s really important in a preschool. Try preschool in Manhattan (or many other big cities.) From ,000 a year for five mornings at a neighborhood daycare (call it your toddler's "safety" school), to up to ,000 at preschools that are part of elite private elementary schools, these fees won't just blow your budget, they'll blow your mind.But many parents pay for a school somewhere on that spectrum because they have to—there are few other options, unless you want to homeschool.But, as some parents see it, that's a small price to pay if junior gets into Harvard. We know: An admissions process for toddlers sounds beyond ridiculous.We asked Shapiro to demystify what consultants do, debunk urban legends about preschool admissions and offer tips on how to pick the right school—no matter what preschool "market" you're in. Don't worry if you're not applying to eight schools or constantly revamping your kid's "application essay." But getting a glimpse into the ultra-competitive world of New York nursery schools can be fascinating.“I try to set parents up with a list of enough of the schools that they really want,” Shapiro says.“So people get to a point where they really believe that there’s not only one school where they can be happy.” And yes, there really are parents who feel like this.“It’s kind of scary, because applications are given out only to the first 30 or so people who get through on the phone," she says."Many schools have since adjusted that policy, with some offering applications by lottery and others making applications available online prior to Labor Day." Step 4. Parents should expect to spend more time on certain schools’ applications.