As educators, we are always a bit challenged by Accepted Student Days as we simultaneously want to put our best foot forward for each visiting family while remaining true to who we are. A well orchestrated Accepted Student Day is critical to showing families the entirety of the Proctor experience, and yet the trust we place in our students to showcase the best of Proctor is what families will likely remember.
While some schools may try to over-plan Accepted Student Days, our focus is simple: facilitate the opportunity for each family to meet and talk to those individuals within our community who can best speak to their interests, questions, and desire to learn more. For us, it is not about the glossy brochure, the picture perfect website, only showing visitors the newest dormitories and facilities, or moving dirtied snowbanks out of the way to make campus look better than it normally should in the heart of mud season. Instead, we believe if you like us for who we are, then perhaps we are the right community for you.
To our Accepted Students and their families, we offer three pieces of advice:
Look closely at the quality of human interaction.
When looking at and comparing schools, do not just look at the features of the school, but at the core, at the human interactions between students and adults, and evaluate those. Are the kids happy, engaged, known, and loved? That is what our students need today, and what we seek to do at Proctor.
At Proctor, it is about relationships. It is about valuing the bonds that form in small family-style dormitories, advisories, classes, and athletic teams and letting those relationships we’ve formed with students during their time here to organically illustrate the impact of Proctor’s educational model. It’s about the intangibles a visiting family will observe entirely outside of our Admissions teams’ control: how students treat each other on the walk between classes, the mutual respect demonstrated in classes between teachers and students, the smiles of students genuinely enjoying their high school experience. You can’t fake these things on an Accepted Student Day no matter how hard you may try.
Choose a community that embraces the messiness of adolescence.
We believe it is important to be honest that we are a community of real individuals who daily experience real struggles and real joys. It is through this acknowledgement of our humanness that our community is forged and we will never gloss over this reality just to impress visiting families.
A few years ago, David Brooks shared in this article a poignant message that seems especially important for all of us to hear as our Accepted Student Days approach. “We have a tendency, especially in an achievement-oriented culture, to want to solve problems and repair brokenness — to propose, plan, fix, interpret, explain and solve. But what seems to be needed here is the art of presence — to perform tasks without trying to control or alter the elemental situation.” Our goal is not to “fix” our students, but to be present with them as they grow into caring, interesting, fun, active humans.
Choose Your Next Community Who You Could Become.
Every independent school offers remarkable programs (Proctor included). But as you visit schools, do not be blinded by shiny objects. Do not allow your attention to be solely focused on a singular program that interests you. When you visit Proctor, we encourage you to take it all in. Visit every table at the programs fair in the gym. Talk to students. Talk to faculty. Talk to the amazingly talented dining services crew at lunch. Talk to the housekeepers and maintenance team who quietly keep campus looking beautiful. Move beyond the show that every school (Proctor included) puts on for Accepted Student Day and dig into the heart of the school.
Programs are what attract students to a school, but it is the whole of the school that determines the capacity for growth for each student. You will not be the same person you are today when you graduate, do not limit your potential for evolution. Acknowledge the programs on your visit, but take time to learn about the whole of the community you are joining. Two, three, four, twenty years down the road, you'll be thankful you did.