Worried About Applying To Nursery School Or Kindergarten?

2008, Jennifer Brozost, then an admissions officer at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School, approached her
co-worker Vimmi Shroff with an idea: why not start a business to help New York City parents navigate the
notoriously nerve-wracking process of applying to private schools? —

The two women
have seen New York’s private school
admissions from every angle. Jennifer taught second grade before working in
admissions for seven years; Vimmi taught kindergarten before her eight-year
admissions career. They bonded when Jennifer was applying to schools for her
daughter at the same time as Vimmi was applying for her son.

Just a year
after starting their consultancy,
PEAS (Private Education Advisory Services),
Jennifer came to Vimmi with another big request: would she co-write a book with
her based on their experiences? They ended up collaborating on The NYC
Private School Admissions Handbook
, which was published in June, and walks
parents through the steps they must take (from playgroup politics to admission
tests) to apply to the city’s private nursery schools and kindergartens.

write that you wished you had a book like this when you were applying to
schools for your own children. After working in admissions, why would you need
a guide?

: It’s not that we needed the book to know how to
do an interview, but to keep ourselves organized. In the back of the book, we
have checklists and places for notes. People can go to their interview, come
back, and write down everything there. It’s just to keep it fresh. It gets so
crazy when you apply. Also, we included anecdotes to keep it light. We know
it’s a serious process, but the more relaxed our clients are, the better they
are going to do in their interviews. Our most difficult clients are the ones
who are so stressed out.

don’t recommend prepping children for the kindergarten admissions test, but
aren’t you in effect prepping their parents?

JB: It’s
very different. It’s not really prepping parents. It’s just educating them on
the process. It is giving them someone real to talk to after each interview. We’re
just kind of doing a lot of their homework for them, and they can trust us.
They go to these different schools and then ask us to interpret the education
for them.

In the
front of your book, you identify clients who recommend you by their initials,
not their names. Is that because there is a stigma to using an admissions

JB: Yes,
there is. You don’t want to feel like you had a step up on anyone.

What is
the first tip you give to parents applying to nursery school or kindergarten?

Vimmi Shroff :
Talk to someone who is objective [in order] to learn about a school. In this
process there is a lot of park bench gossip. We saw tons of “frenemies” created
this year, parents who were applying to schools who could be nasty to each

What is the top mistake that parents make?

VS : Herd
mentality. This is New York City, and people get so
caught up and competitive and think the admissions process is their personal
game, but it is actually a child’s life they are dealing with. Show respect to
your child for who he or she is. Do not follow what other people want your
child to be doing.

JB : You
really need to understand the philosophy of each school to which you are
applying. That information is crucial for you to make the right decision. You
want to find a school that fits your child.

write that all
New York City private schools offer
fabulous educations. Can you explain why?

VS: Because
they invest in great teachers. They value education. That is the reason they
are a school in New York City. It’s not easy to run a
school here. They are always learning. The private schools also have a lot of
resources compared to public schools.

JB: You’re
also getting smaller classrooms, and more individualized attention. The problem
with public schools, even though there are great ones, is that they are getting
overcrowded again. Also they really have to bring up the bottom of each class
to perform well on tests. So in the third grade, because of the third grade
testing, they really teach to the test for a lot of the year. It’s not a
negative thing; it’s just different. Private schools are not held to those
public testing standards, so kids do a lot of different things.

For more information, visit nypeas.com.