(Photography by Lauren Kelly-Jones, ’14)

The right fit

A chance to figure out the right school, at any age.

In mid-April 550 high schoolers converged on the quads for one of several “admitted student overnights.” The University had sent them golden tickets—letters of admission to the College—a few weeks earlier, and now it was their turn to do the choosing: they had until May 1 to pick which school they’d attend this fall.

They came to Hyde Park to immerse themselves (and parents and siblings) in the UChicago lifestyle, culture, environment. They stayed in dorms, sat in on classes, and took architectural and historical tours. They attended sessions on student life, study abroad, financial aid, and how to prepare for a career in a number of fields. The schedule was impressive, and with temperatures in the low 60s and a mix of sun and clouds, it was easy to see how the experience could ensure the right students: this is the place for me.

If only there were overnights for preschool. Choosing a new day care and preschool for our two kids, my husband and I visited the classrooms for a few minutes, exchanged waves and a few sentences with some teachers, and sat down with the director. Hardly immersion. But even though 14 years separate my older child from the prospective Maroons, we are asking questions similar to entering college parents: Will my child learn? thrive? grow emotionally and intellectually? connect with teachers? make friends? eat right? exercise? get enough rest? be happy? Is this the right place, or at least a very good place, for our kids?

Sadie Stein, AB’03, says she found herself, and her friends, at the U of C (read her essay). My kids don’t need to find themselves yet, but friends would be nice. To feel safe and cared for, and to learn the basics they’ll need for their next step in life.

So yes, in 14 years, I hope and fear, we’ll be going through this process again—immersion style.