• Campus Experience
Private School Visit & Tour: What to Ask

It's time to look for a new school.  Perhaps it is a natural transition between grades, or maybe you are looking to uncover a another option for your child's education and make a mid-year transfer.  Boarding or Day? Domestic or International? Private or Public? Independent or Parochial? Whatever your focus, the campus visit is an essential way to evaluate for yourself whether a school is the right-fit for you, your family, and your child. 

Perkiomen School Tour Guides Abbey and Sophia share their tips for what to ask during a campus visit:

1. How was your experience transitioning to the school? Almost all of the stories will be different, and guides will have an opportunity to discuss the Registration and Orientation process.  At Perkiomen, we have 20 minute mini-classes as a preview, as well as after-school practices so you can meet new friends before the school year officially starts.  "During this time there are also Orientation Leaders to help you find your way around the different buildings," says Abbey. "At the end of these three days, you'll know where everything is!"

2. Tell me about dorm life and weekend activities.  Day or Boarding - you'll have an opportunity to experience Residence Life.  From weekend trips to weeknight dinners, its likely that all students are able to experience the benefits of an extended campus community.  "Even if you are a day student, you may sleep over in a dorm if there is a late game, snowstorm, or you are coming back from a weekend activity," says Sophia. "Everyone is on the same schedule and day students and boarders are always friends.  Sometimes I even have a hard time figuring out if someone is a day student or a boarder!" adds Abbey.  

3. What is your favorite class, and why?  By answering this question, your tour guide will have an opportunity to share a personal story about a subject they are passionate about, or a signature academic offering.  It helps to have a student perspective on what classes are really like, outside of what you read on the school's website. You'll also be sure to learn about a favorite faculty member.  "This question allows me to discuss the freedom we have here at Perkiomen," says Abbey. "We have the autonomy to take classes that we are interested in and the freedom to create our own schedules. It is very individualized for the student."

4. What about the food?  Everyone wants to know what meals are like. In most schools, like Perkiomen, all students are welcome at all meals. The dining hall has many options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Mealtime is also an opportunity for students to connect with faculty, and in a boarding environment, also faculty families. Students can continue discussions from class, ask a coach a lingering question, or have an opportunity to simply share a laugh with a friend. "Asking this question allows tour guides to share the wide variety of food options that each school has and what their mealtime traditions are," says Abbey. 

5. Does your school have a particular educational philosophy?  Learning more about the overall mission and focus of the school, allows you to see if your values align with the values of the institution.  "It is solved by living and risk becoming your best - are our mottos at Perkiomen. They are about putting yourself out there and gaining real-life experience now," says Abbey. "It is about taking control of your education and preparing yourself for what you want to do or be when you graduate."

Perhaps most importantly, each family should ask themselves:
What are the unique academic / social / developmental needs of my child and can this school meet those needs and contribute to a partnership with our family?  

"If you have any burning questions that you want to know, don't hesitate to ask," advises Sophia. "Your guide is there to answer them no matter how silly you think the question is. We probably thought of the same things while we were touring Perkiomen!"


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By Abbey Glavin '20 and Sophia Taylor '22

Both day students, Abbey and Sophia are tour guides at Perkiomen School as well as work with the Admissions Department in the summer months. Their perspective is invaluable as they have given hundreds of tours and meet both domestic and international families who are exploring options for independent and private schools. 

Orientation is the most helpful time on campus. We meet our teachers and have 20 minute classes to see what they will be like. Practices during this time allow you to meet your teammates and make new friends before the year officially starts. During this time there are also Orientation Leaders to help you find your way around the different buildings.  At the end of the three days, you'll know where everything is! - Abbey Glavin '20